State struggles with Sparrow controversy

By Michael Berg

The State Board of Elections can’t seem to decide what avenue to take on DeKalb Mayor Greg Sparrow’s disputed travel expenses.

As of Wednesday, a public hearing was scheduled for today at 9 a.m. in Chicago concerning 6th Ward Alderman Jamie Pennington’s complaint against Sparrow. Pennington accused Sparrow of incorrectly filing his disclosure statements concerning travel expenses and charging the city and his campaign for the same expenses.

However, Thursday brought a different story from the board. “They may decide tomorrow morning to hold the public hearing Monday in Springfield,” Sparrow said. “They’ve said that they’ll probably make the decision tomorrow (Friday) morning at a teleconference meeting.”

This resolution differed from the board’s earlier decision to hold the hearing today or cancel it altogether. According to a written order which resulted from the board’s March 15 meeting, the board would reconsider its decision to hold a public hearing if Sparrow provided further details and amended disclosure reports by March 17.

“They (the board) said if I got the materials in on time, which I did, they would have a decision, and they don’t,” Sparrow said.

If the public hearing is moved to Monday, the board will have to make the decision that same day. At the March 4 board meeting, it was decided to go to a 21-day calendar to reach a decision with Monday being the deadline. Pennington’s complaint was filed on March 1.

Sparrow has said he believes the board will find no need for a public hearing.

“I’m hopeful that in their (the board’s) assessment, they agree there is nothing in what my opponents are trying to say,” he said. “There is no reason to go to public expense and hold a hearing.”

If a hearing is held it will be similar to a courtroom setting. “The cases are presented before the public, and the ruling is determined from there,” Pennington said.

Northern Star phone calls to the State Board of Elections in Chicago were left unanswered Thursday.