Opponent wants apology from Geneva mayor over ethics accusation

Geneva Alderman Tom Simonian wants an apology from Mayor Kevin Burns over Burns' saying Simonian had acted unethically on a city council vote regarding a subdivision being built by Simonian's campaign manager.Simonian is running for mayor against Burns...

Opponent wants apology from Geneva mayor over ethics accusation

Geneva Alderman Tom Simonian wants an apology from Mayor Kevin Burns over Burns' saying Simonian had acted unethically on a city council vote regarding a subdivision being built by Simonian's campaign manager.

Simonian is running for mayor against Burns in April.

The request stems from a Feb. 13 committee-of-the-whole vote on approving a three-house subdivision by a company owned by Joe Stanton. Stanton is Simonian's paid campaign manager through his other business, Fagans Inc.

Simonian abstained from voting on one of the requests and voted "present" on another.

After the meeting, Burns told a reporter for the Kane County Chronicle that Simonian had made a "flagrant violation" of ethics rules, according to a Feb. 14 article. He said ethics laws require elected officials to disclose all business relationships they have with petitioners seeking approvals from the city. Burns contended that the abstention and "present" vote counted toward the majority, which favored granting Stanton's petitions.

Simonian consulted with a lawyer and disagrees.

"Per my attorney's opinion, the allegations against me were obviously false," he told the city council Tuesday night. "I hope that the mayor is honorable enough to apologize for his false allegations."

Burns did not respond to Simonian's statement Tuesday night and could not be reached for comment Thursday.

A letter from Simonian's lawyer, Timothy McLean, said Simonian had no ownership interest in the development or Stanton's companies, and that he had no conflict of interest as defined under state law or Geneva city code. A vote of "present" or to abstain "is considered to do nothing," under Robert's Rules of Order, according to McLean.

City Attorney Charles Radovich disagreed with that Tuesday, saying a state court decision 35 years ago set precedent on what abstentions and votes of "present" mean. Depending on the circumstances, they sometimes do count as votes in favor or disagreement of a matter, he said.

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