Riverdale mayor's state job under review

Deyon Dean's two full-time jobs require a minimum of 62.5 hours a week
2010-04-25T00:05:00Z Riverdale mayor's state job under reviewBy Rich Bird - Rich.Bird@nwi.com, (219) 937-5741 nwitimes.com
April 25, 2010 12:05 am  • 

RIVERDALE | Village President Deyon Dean is a very busy man.

In addition to his job running Riverdale, he also is an associate director of the Illinois Department of Human Services' Division of Community Health and Prevention.

Both are full-time jobs.

As such, he is compensated $35,000 annually as village president, and $71,800 a year for his state job.

Dean is expected to put in a minimum of 62.5 hours a week -- 25 for the village and 37.5 for the state -- for his publicly funded salaries.

Although some take their hats off to him -- including Village Clerk Deborah Smiley, who said she's pretty sure Dean doesn't sleep -- there are some, including former Village President Zenovia Evans, who question whether he adequately serves the taxpayers.

After an initial inquiry by The Times into Dean's duties, DHS spokesman Tom Green said the department now is reviewing Dean's state position for "potential conflict."

"I guess I can just say that it's under review," Green said Thursday. "The department in general is looking at that issue."

Dean did not return repeated messages left by phone and e-mail for comment. Messages left with his assistant, Tanya Watkins, also went unreturned.

Full-time jobs

Dean has held his associate director position with DHS since 2007. According to Green, Dean oversees community support services, including programs for youth and community prevention programs, "like programs that help youth stay on the right tracks."

"He oversees the people who do that," Green said. "In effect, he's a manager."

Prior to that, he was with the same division, but not as associate director. He started with the division in 2003, Green said.

Before becoming village president in 2009, Dean was a Riverdale village trustee for 12 years.

He is not the only south suburban mayor to hold two jobs. According to Ed Paesel, executive director of the South Suburban Mayors and Managers Association, most have a job other than being mayor.

"Many have full-time jobs; then, they are putting in lots of hours in the evening and over the weekend," Paesel said. "In effect, you end up working two full-time jobs.

"Some work for other agencies. I don't know that on the face of it, whether they are working for a private company or a government agency, it doesn't necessarily say that there is something wrong with that. ... On the rare occasion that there might be a conflict with the policy of the village government ... the person would have to make a decision. I imagine it would be rare."

Riverdale, however, is rare among other south suburban municipalities; according to Paesel, most have part-time mayoral positions.

In October 2008, the Riverdale Village Board approved an ordinance "establishing the position of village president as "full-time" with an expectation of "a minimum of 25-40 hours per week to properly perform the duties."

The ordinance goes on to establish a salary of $35,000 a year with annual 2 percent increases, and states that the village president "shall be furnished with an automobile for his/her use."

Evans, the former village president who served two terms before losing a re-election bid to Dean in 2009, authored the ordinance. She said she did so after she found herself working an average of 30 hours a week for the village and roughly 20 a week for her "day job" as the office manager for a dental clinic.

"It was because I was putting so many hours in (Village Hall), that was the reason," Evans said. "We had so many things going on, it took a lot of my time."

Evans said she spent weekday mornings at Village Hall and kept daylong hours there on Wednesdays, in addition to evening hours for meetings.

She questioned how Dean could be putting in the required 25 to 40 hours with the village after meeting his commitment to the state.

"I would hope that if someone is being paid full time, they are doing full-time work," Evans said.

She's not alone. David Morrison, deputy director of the Illinois Campaign for Political Reform, also questioned how it would be possible to perform both of Dean's positions.

"There are only so many hours in the day, and it's hard to see how someone could provide full service for both employers," Morrison said.

Odd hours

Smiley, the village clerk, said Friday she believes that Dean does the job that Riverdale residents are paying him for.

"He does it, based on what I see," Smiley said. "I don't think he sleeps!"

Attorney Amy Kurson, with the Chicago-based firm of Greenberg Traurig LLP, which represents the village, agreed.

"That's been my experience with him," Kurson said. "The man works hard. ... This mayor is usually spending his evenings -- usually about four hours a day, and always 10 hours a day on Saturday -- on mayoral activities."

Kurson said the ordinance does not require Dean to spend the 25 to 40 hours a week at Village Hall, nor does it require him to work from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

In addition, Kurson said Dean has given back to the village by taking 10 "furlough days," during which "he has been working but not paid by the village, and he also gave back two months of his salary, so he essentially was working for free."

Even so, there are those who question whether the mayor is too busy to return calls regarding city business.

Ralph Nikischer, assistant director of the Illinois Fraternal Order of Police Labor Relations Council, has represented Riverdale police officers for two decades. He's had working relationships with several past mayors, but can't seem to establish one with Dean.

"I have made repeated calls and personal visits over to the Village Hall, and I have never received so much as one phone call or communication from the mayor over the course of a few months," Nikischer said.

In addition to a lack of communication on the ongoing police contract negotiations, Nikischer said things recently came to a head when Dean ordered the removal of a portrait of slain Detective William "Wally" Rolniak from the lobby of the public safety building that bears his name.

After the FOP took the rank and file's concerns about the portrait public, Dean reversed the order, and the portrait was replaced. Dean said the intention never was to disrespect the memory of the detective who was shot and killed in 2004 while transporting a prisoner.

Dean also denied that he planned to strip Rolniak's name from the front of the building, despite a memo from Police Chief Hollis Dorrough to his staff in which he said Dean "will not change his mind on the matter but is willing to have a plaque designed for Detective Rolniak ... ."

"The Rolniak thing was just the icing on the cake of what has been a bad experience," Nikischer said. "I have been there 20 years. This is the worst it's ever been in the relationship between the union and the village.

"There were times when we couldn't reach an agreement, but it's always been professional and businesslike. Now it's almost like there's no working relationship with him at all."

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