Cal City official splits conference payment in attempt at 'transparency'

2013-04-28T19:00:00Z 2013-04-28T22:30:22Z Cal City official splits conference payment in attempt at 'transparency'Gregory Tejeda Times Correspondent nwitimes.com
April 28, 2013 7:00 pm  • 

CALUMET CITY | The City Council gave its approval for payments totaling $2,500 to allow 7th Ward Alderman Antoine Collins to attend a conference being held in Washington, D.C.

Collins is a member of the Young Elected Officials organization, which attempts to encourage professionalism among government officials across the nation.

The group is holding a conference July 24-29 in the nation's capital, and Collins plans to attend.

Money approved Thursday by the council with a 6-0 vote (6th Ward Alderman Nick Manousopoulos was not present) will cover Collins’ conference registration, hotel, airfare and other expenses.

But Collins had the payment approval structured in a way that all he will receive now is $547.80 for deposits he has to make now to confirm his attendance.

The city Treasurer’s office will not pay out the remaining $1,952 to Collins until July 22 – two days before the conference is to begin.

“I don’t need to have the full amount now,” Collins said, adding that he believes splitting the payment makes it clear exactly how much in city revenues is being spent to send him to the conference.

“I deliberately asked for it to be structured this way,” Collins said. “This is about the spirit of transparency, it has never been done like this before.”

The desire to be open about a conference payment comes not long after the Better Government Association issued a report criticizing 3rd Ward Alderman Thaddeus Jones for a city payment of $2,378 that allowed him to attend the American Black Film Festival held last year in Miami.

That study contends that Jones took the full city payment, while also using money from his campaign fund to pay for the trip – a claim that Jones says is false.

In other business, the City Council also approved the awarding of a $248,766 contract to K-Five Construction for street resurfacing and drainage improvements on Forestdale Park and Legion Drive from Detroit Street to 159th Street.

Aldermen also approved a final payment of $13,599.30 to DesPlaines Office Equipment, which had leased copier equipment to city government.

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