Plainfield Park Board VP Accuses Hurtado of Ethics Violation

Commissioner Janet Silosky accused Hurtado of trying to unload LED lights by selling them to the park district.

Janet Silosky (left) speaks as Peter Hurtado (right) and fellow park board commissioner Mary Kay Ludemann listen. Credit: Shannon Antinori
Janet Silosky (left) speaks as Peter Hurtado (right) and fellow park board commissioner Mary Kay Ludemann listen. Credit: Shannon Antinori

While some residents continued to call for the Plainfield Park District board majority to step down, one commissioner has targeted board president Peter Hurtado.

Janet Silosky on Wednesday publicly accused Hurtado of attempting to unload a shipment of LED lights on the park district. Hurtado is a small business owner in the commercial lighting industry.

Hurtado, who denied the accusation, ignored requests from the public to resign, instead asking park district attorney Matt Campbell to investigate the matter and bring it to the attention of the Illinois Attorney General’s Office.

“I don’t know if it rises to the level of a crime,” Campbell said, but told Hurtado he would look into it.

At Wednesday’s special board meeting, Silosky claimed the issue came to light on Jan. 14, when park district spokesman Doug Booth came to her after Hurtado allegedly asked him to authorize a payment to the lighting company via PayPal. The company, "Solis," coincidentally bore the same name as Hurtado’s daughter’s boyfriend, she said.

“[Booth] felt very, very uncomfortable” with the purchase, Silosky said. “He had the guts to come to me about this.”

According to Silosky, the purchase caught her attention because she had prior knowledge that Hurtado’s company was sending a shipment of LED lights to China over the summer, but the order had been cancelled.

“He ended up with all of this LED lighting,” Silosky said.

She said she confronted Hurtado during a Jan. 20 meeting with then-park district Executive Director Garrett Peck, who has since resigned.

“On Martin Luther King Day when we met, he admitted that the lights were his,” Silosky said. But, she claimed, he did not admit any wrongdoing and ultimately refused to resign from the park board.

“He said he didn’t do anything wrong,” she said. “He said that it was a setup … and then he walked out on us.”

Silosky claimed fellow commissioner Peter Steinys was able to put a stop on the PayPal payment.

On Wednesday night, Hurtado called the allegations “very serious accusations,” but did not respond to numerous residents who asked whether he intended to resign.

Hurtado acknowledged that the lighting vendor in question is run by his daughter’s boyfriend, but said he had no knowledge about the purchase or what the lights were to be used for.

He also denied that the lights were originally his.

Neither Silosky, Hurtado nor Steinys — who reportedly cancelled the payment — could say how much the LED lighting would have cost the park district.

“I don’t remember the exact amount,” Silosky said.

Hurtado said he knows there was a bid process involved with the purchase, but was not aware of details.

“I don’t get involved with equipment at the park district,” he said. “I didn’t see the bids.”

Newton: Step down ‘in the best interest of the district’

Commissioner Mary Kay Ludemann, who has been outspoken in her criticism of some decisions made by board majority Silosky, Steinys and Hurtado, said she learned of the allegations on Monday.

Asked whether she believed Hurtado should step down, Ludemann said she wasn’t sure, adding it depends on whether Hurtado is comfortable remaining in the position.

Commissioner Larry Newton, on the other hand, called for Hurtado to resign “in the best interest of the district.

“Whether the allegations are true or not, the uproar caused by all this is going to cloud the district forever and ever," he said.

‘Not an easy thing to do’

The special board meeting was called on Monday for the purpose of discussing “personnel and the performance of the occupant of a public office” in closed session, according to the agenda.

Even before the meeting began, at least one commissioner raised questions about the legality of the closed-session agenda.

“The Board of Commissioners does not have a vacancy nor do the conditions exist under which we have we the specific authority to remove an occupant from public office under law or ordinance,” Newton told Patch.

In an emailed statement, Silosky outlined the reasons for the meeting.

“Recent events have led to the calling of a special meeting by me and Commissioner Mary Ludemann, for the purpose of discussing the performance of a Board member who has allegedly acted in violation of the provisions of the Board Member Handbook,” the statement said. “While I regret that such an action must be taken, I believe that this meeting will be in the best interests of the District as well as the Board and I look forward to a frank discussion of the issues involved."

Silosky acknowledged that the email was sent out on her behalf, but declined to say who sent it.

Ultimately, Silosky said, the ethics issue could not be discussed in closed session, so she brought it up during the public portion of the meeting.

“This information was going to come out one way or another,” she said, adding it tough for her to speak publicly against Hurtado.

“This was not an easy thing for me to do,” Silosky said.

The next park board meeting is set for 6 p.m. Feb. 4 at the Plainfield Township building, 22525 W. Lockport St.

Watch video of Wednesday's special meeting.

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Frank January 30, 2014 at 11:56 AM
JeffK, I've heard a lot of foolish talk in my time, but Hurtado does not appear to be the kind of person a board would deliberately try to keep around to do some good or "have a profound impact." That's hysterical! The only magic show anyone is seeing is the "board majority's" theatrics in trying to conjure up ways to save their own butts, while hoping everyone's "eyes are still on the hat." The guy's a cancer that needs to go.
Larry Newton January 30, 2014 at 11:56 AM
SHe admitted at least once that she didn't have all of the evidence AND she's relying on the willingness of other witnesses to verify her claims.
Tim January 30, 2014 at 12:02 PM
Actually Larry, I hate to disagree with you on the finer points of free speech, but Janet is pretty safe when it comes to almost anything she says in a public forum about a public official. "a speaker will not be liable for the defamation unless it is proven that the speaker either knew the statement was false or that the speaker made the statement with reckless disregard for whether it was true or not. If a speaker has valid reasons to believe that a statement regarding a public official is true, that statement is not defamation. The Illinois Appellate Court has held that ALL comments made at legislative or judicial proceedings are absolutely privileged. This means that anything said by either a government official or a member of the public during the course of a legislative meeting or judicial proceeding can not be considered defamatory. " Source: http://www.citizenadvocacycenter.org/uploads/8/8/4/0/8840743/freespeechbrochure.pdf Notice how she was very careful to show all the steps she took to verify her information, as she believed it? She was showing she had taken steps to be seen as not being reckless. She knows exactly what she is doing(or someone who told her knows exactly what to tell her to say). This is pure politics, nothing more. That is not to say some idiot cant try to sue her for what she said, after all you can try to sue people with any claim you want. It doesn't mean you will win(you usually wont, and it just makes you look worse).
JeffK January 30, 2014 at 12:05 PM
She said very little even though she talked a lot. All she said is there was a pay pal payment in transit to a company owned by someone he knew. So if there was a paypal payment in transit to a company of someone he knew, where is the liability? She stopped short of saying anything that would leave her open to any action other than not being on Pete's xmas card list anymore
Larry Newton January 30, 2014 at 12:14 PM
I guess I'll leave those questions to the legal eagles
Plainfield Independent January 30, 2014 at 12:16 PM
Plainfield Township Trustee Matthew C Starr recently endorsed a state representative candidate. Matthew 'supports reform-minded candidates who are looking to cut corruption, waste, and inefficiencies from government.' So do I Matthew! Where are you and they?
Joel Craig January 30, 2014 at 12:17 PM
Remember when running for public office meant being a public servant, serving the best interests of the voting public? You can probably count on one hand how many true public servants we now have in town. This last election was nothing more than a well-planned power-grab by a certain group with their own agenda that permeates every level of local government. Again, we had 10-11% voter turnout last time. This is the end result of voter apathy. Let this be a lesson to everyone. Don't vote party affiliation - there are good and bad folks on both sides. Do your homework!
JeffK January 30, 2014 at 12:17 PM
Frank the board doesn't have to deliberately keep him around, they don't have an option. He is there to stay. Look everyone in Chicago hated Dennis Rodman until he became a Bull. Did Jordan say I'm not playing with him? No, he won his 3 rings and never talked to the guy again. At some point someone has to be the bigger person and do what is right for the public interest. Hate and anger will get you no where and we all lose. Stop being children put ego aside, extend the Olive branch and fix some of the mess created.
Frank January 30, 2014 at 12:22 PM
Gimmie some of what you're smoking, dude.
JeffK January 30, 2014 at 12:26 PM
Common sense and reason, not that hard to acquire on your own if you try.
Frank January 30, 2014 at 01:02 PM
I think you need to take your own advice.
Plainfield Independent January 30, 2014 at 02:15 PM
For, like almost everyone else in our country, I started out with my share of optimism. I believed in hard work and progress and action, but now, after first being 'for' society and then 'against' it, I assign myself no rank or any limit, and such an attitude is very much against the trend of the times. But my world has become one of infinite possibilities. What a phrase - still it's a good phrase and a good view of life, and a man shouldn't accept any other; that much I've learned underground. Until some gang succeeds in putting the world in a strait jacket, its definition is possibility.
Tim January 30, 2014 at 02:21 PM
@PI - Those are wonderful words from Ralph Ellison. Author of T.he I.nvisible M.an
Jimmy Parks January 30, 2014 at 02:21 PM
@JeffK, where have you been through all of this? Can I suggest you have a conversation with JustAnOpinion? Perhaps you two can meet at Uptown.
Bad News Bears January 30, 2014 at 02:31 PM
I personally don't trust any of them. Why exactly did Peck resign? Why exactly did Janet change her vote on the church? How exactly did Steinys stop a PayPal payment? Why exactly does Booth have access to this account as the Communications Director? Who else at the PTPD knew this was going on and didn't report it? #whatelsewillbeuncoveredduringaninvestigation
Plainfield Independent January 30, 2014 at 02:32 PM
Yes they are Tim. T.he I.nvisible M.an is awesome!
Plainfield Independent January 30, 2014 at 02:44 PM
Notice how Mary and Larry are conveniently left out until it's time for a special meeting. But all the events leading up to this included everyone else. Hurtado did say this was a set up and in a way I believe his statement. Nothing but politics at its worst.
JeffK January 30, 2014 at 03:02 PM
Way off base Jimmy. You should do some pre election research. I'm trying to give you a way to crush and destroy them and everything they tried to build. I'm sorry if people can't see that. You have an opportunity to fire and rehire qualified people immediately. You can fix some things. If he isn't interested, what harm is done? None. Let's do it your way instead and let unqualified get our tax dollars while qualified people sit on their couch out of work. The biggest way to stick it to them is to try to get him to work with you. This is politics, learn to play. It's easy to see why they were able to gain control so easily
Frank January 30, 2014 at 03:23 PM
I respect your opinion, but you can't fix stink with stink.
Vicky Polito January 30, 2014 at 04:01 PM
I am very busy with some other things today, but wanted to say this (and, I know it's not original or anything many others don't think): My heart is so heavy for the PTPD staff, all those good people who through no fault or action of their own have been run through the thresher these past months. Some were crying after last night's meeting, many are frightened, worried, and just plain sad. My goal is to do as much as I can to contribute to getting justice for all of us, but especially for them. This burden that they have carried and are still carrying is horrible and I hope some of them see this and remember that people are keeping you in mind, wanting to make things right and better. Hang in there, you're surrounded by dozens and dozens of people who care and want to help.
Mark Murphy January 30, 2014 at 06:32 PM
Even if there was a legit bidding process and the "Future Son-in-Law" was the best bid, One should think about what might be said. Pay-Pal is notorious for being difficult to find where/who the actual payment went to which make this even stickier. Mr. Pete, you screwed up!! Time to join your PAL Garrett!!
Frank January 30, 2014 at 08:57 PM
It is time to flush each dirty toilet in the gas station restroom that the PTPD has become. It is time to trace the tentacles of the cancer that have permeated this Village's very core and expunge them all as well. Chicago-style politics has no place in our town. The divide and conquer mentality of the people that have attempted to hijack our town and our taxpayers' wallets for their own benefit must be brought to an abrupt end. Peck ultimately did the right thing; apparently he has a conscience. Several others must now follow. The people of this town have been lied to, taken for fools and ultimately traumatized for far too long. We need to show up at the polls in VAST numbers to prove that it won't happen again.
Frank January 30, 2014 at 09:09 PM
JeffK, your quote "this is politics, learn to play" sums this whole thing up quite well and is a road that this community at large is UNWILLING to go down. If that is the banner you carry, I feel sorry for you because NEVER has somebody been so wrong. The PTPD is NOT politics. It's people elected and appointed to provide a "quality of life" service to the town's taxpayers. Nothing more, nothing less. I'll be damned if running a park district requires pay-to-play, politics (dirty or otherwise) and underhanded clandestine movements to provide a basic service to a community. You need to get a clue.
Frank January 30, 2014 at 09:12 PM
Yeah, I'm sick of it.
Frank January 30, 2014 at 09:33 PM
And another thing, while I'm on this rant, leave our community alone and do something DARING, like going out and getting a real job. If you spent as much time trying to figure out how to earn a legitimate living as you do trying to figure out a way to extract money from the taxpayers under false pretenses via latching on to government teat, you'd be very successful! Channel your energies in the right direction for a change. You'd be a better man or woman for it. I salute Janet Siloskey (with reservations) for finally finding some stones. I salute Jim Racich for showing the stones I always knew he had. If our Mayor found some stones, stood up and demonstrated he had them, I'd salute him too. He's a good man who's been far too silent. I salute Mary Ludeman and Larry Newton for having the stones to tactfully go through what they've been through FOR US, the taxpayers.
Frank January 30, 2014 at 09:37 PM
And another thing.....(no, I'm done).
John Simpson January 31, 2014 at 12:50 AM
The Plainfield GOP needs some new leadership to stop supporting these tea party whack jobs like Hurtado, Steiny and Silosky for public office. We need to vote no in this upcoming election to their candidates like Oberweis, Balkema and Tedone.
JeffK February 01, 2014 at 01:37 AM
Frank this community at large is apathetic, I see why you and I have such a disconnect. I see the world as it is you see it as you want it to be. As much as you don't want PTPD to be about politics, it is. You can't bring a knife to a gun fight. You want to take these people on it's going to be at the ballot box. If your strategy is to put your hope on the states attorney and atty general you are going to be very disappointed.
Frank February 01, 2014 at 05:36 AM
I have an opinion, not a strategy. Therein lies the biggest disconnect. And judging by the commenters here, the turnout at the meetings, the public outcry, the coverage in every major news source, I'd be remiss if I classified the community as apathetic and you'd be seriously mistaken. Just MHO, pal.
Frank February 01, 2014 at 10:08 AM
Furthermore, if the PD is "political" it is a direct result of the unscrupulous people that chose to politicize it, which is the chief reason it is dysfunctional and in disarray, because it is not designed to function like that. PD's serve only to provide a "quality of life" service to the taxpayers of the community; they are not pulpits for political shenanigans. Gaining that identity is what has impaired the PD's value and its ability to provide the very basic services it is designed to provide to the members of the community.


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