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Monday, September 08, 2014

Former Beacon-News Editor John Russell Rewarded with City of Aurora Job at Taxpayer Expense After Cover-Up of Corruption by Mayor Tom Weisner

In recent years, anyone who has read the Aurora Beacon-News, the local fishwrap old media newspaper (tabloid), knows the publication severely deteriorated to the point of having no credibility in reporting and journalistic integrity.

Some reporters were better writers than others.  Ed Fanselow was one of the few examples of any actual talent.  Most, such as Andre Salles, Dave Parro, Matt Hanley and many others turned out not only to be bad reporters, but knowingly would twist facts and stories.

The most recent city hall beat reporter, Stephanie Lulay, quit.  Initially, she promised to be different and she was.  She started asking questions, but soon fell in line with the Aurora Way of ignoring corruption and being friendly with the crooks she was supposed to be objectively and aggressively covering.

Since 2005, Beaconfused reporters would blame editors for not publishing more stories on corruption and changing stories written by reporters to cover-up misconduct by the administration of Mayor Tom Weisner.  And, while there was a problem with the reporters, they were correct there was a problem with the editors, such as John Russell and Denise Crosby.

In the case of the profanity-laced John Russell, he represented the worst combination.  He was old media, part of the Beaconfused since 1974 and a strong supporter of the status-quo, old guard of Aurora that has exploited the city for years.  He was also a close buddy of Mayor Tom Weisner.

After Russell was eventually tossed out by the Sun-Times in 2013, he claimed he was leaving so he could "retire" but that turned out to be untrue.  Just a few months later, he ended up getting a new job, this time as a "grant writer" with the City of Aurora, a gift at taxpayer expense by Mayor Tom Weisner.

Even without this obvious example of corruption by Weisner, it's always been clear John Russell lacked basic journalism integrity, but now they are exploiting you together.


Anonymous said...

I see the Rick Nagel has got himself in a bind using County resources to help Lauzen. Nice to see you back

Anonymous said...

AURORA – Marking the second Property Standards scandal in about a year, top city employee Rosario DeLeon has been placed on leave pending an investigation.

Last year’s case concerned Rosario DeLeon’s brother. This time, the case concerns property owned by Rosario DeLeon, the city’s director of Public Properties.

For nearly a year, DeLeon’s East Side rental property was cited for property standards violations that he failed to correct. Last week, the case was referred to an administrative hearing.

Upon learning of the violations, Mayor Tom Weisner placed DeLeon on administrative leave pending an internal investigation, city officials confirmed Friday.

DeLeon owns a rental property at 1021-1023 Pearl St. with his ex-wife Elizabeth Carrizales, who also works for the city. Carrizales works for the city’s Neighborhood Redevelopment Division.

The Pearl Street property has been cited for violations seven times in the last five years, according to Aurora spokesman Dan Ferrelli.

According to city records, DeLeon owns four rental properties.

DeLeon could not be reached Thursday.

Jim Pilmer, director of the city’s Neighborhood Standards Division, said he knew DeLeon’s property had been referred to administrative hearing. But city leaders in the Mayor’s Office, including Mayor Tom Weisner, were not aware of the violations or the hearing, according to Chief of Staff Carie Anne Ergo.

After the 2013 Property Standards scandal, Weisner swapped key personnel and made policy changes to the Property Standards division that “further solidify consistent and transparent code enforcement,” Ergo said.

“Despite his executive position with the City, Mr. Deleon received no special considerations which demonstrates that everyone is treated fairly and equally under the current property standards procedures,” she said.

DeLeon started his career with the city in 1985 as a parking meter checker. Over the years, he was routinely promoted, serving as director of Public Property in 1999 before being appointed to director of Neighborhood Standards in 2006. In 2010, DeLeon was named Chief Operation Officer, overseeing divisions that included Property Standards.

In 2012 and 2013, DeLeon’s salary – which does not include cost of benefits – was about $145,560, making him one of the city’s highest paid employees. In 2014, DeLeon’s salary will be about $140,750.

As a longtime city employee, DeLeon accrues five weeks of vacation and 12 sick days annually.

Brother’s case

In June 2013, three City of Aurora employees were placed on administrative leave for the mismanagement of a property code violation case that cited one of the Property Standards Division’s own employees. That employee, Reymundo DeLeon, is Rosario’s brother.

The city has declined to name the three employees that were placed on administrative leave in 2013, but Rosario and Rey DeLeon were both heavily linked to the case.

At the time, Rosario DeLeon apologized for the situation, saying that it caused a breach of trust with the community.

Rosario DeLeon promised he would work to put measures in place to ensure the situation will not be repeated.

“The poor judgements and lack of professionalism displayed by certain members of my staff in this matter are not reflective of the service that is rightfully expected by citizens and taxpayers,” he wrote in a statement.

In that case, the complaint originated with Rey DeLeon’s neighbor, retired Aurora Police Sgt. Bob Mangers.

Mangers said in June 2013 that Rosario DeLeon ’s then-supervisory position over the superintendent of Property Standards Division, the division that Rey DeLeon works for, was “like the fox watching the hen house.”

After Mangers complained to City Council, the Fordham property was appropriately referred to an administrative hearing for non-compliance.

Anonymous said...

Rosario probably did something else to warrant Tom reacting the way he did.

Anonymous said...

Like what? Was it kinda bad? Was it naughty? Mean?

Anonymous said...

Did I read this article right that this person was making $145,560 a year not including benefits and was cited seven times over the last five years at this rental home while he was actually the top guy at the Property Standards Division.

Anonymous said...

3:53 p.m.:

So Rosario did "something else" to cause Tom to react the way he did?

Sleeping with a subordinate employee? No, that was in 2007. In most offices, this gets the manager fired, but not Aurora.

Using influence to get his wife hired at Special Events? Nah, he, Weisner and Pilmer made those arrangements with Stover in 2001. She's working in another department now and hundreds of other Aurorans are more qualified for the job, but that's nepotism for ya.

Getting his sons hired at the City? One as an extended seasonal worker for six years. The other was a temporary worker at the Parks during the Great Recession only to ...SURPRISE!!!...get hired full-time a year or so later. So much for open opportunity in City Government.

For years, Rosario has used Aurora as his family employment agency. Yet his highly paid BFF's in the Personnel Department and the Mayor's Office never stepped in and stopped it. But that's OK, just load up that payroll with family. It's been happening for over ten years.

Working 30 hours each week at a $145,560/year salary? Never answering the City cell phone? Taking long lunches? Naw, been doing that since at least 1999, breakfasting and lunching with buddies from the Hall. Gossiping and telling stories must be important for City operations.

Being roundly considered a joke by aldermen, private contractors, City workers and everyone except political associates? Most people shake their heads after they do business with this guy and find out he's been a top manager since 1999. Old news there.

Refusing to return phone calls and emails from residents/aldermen? Heck, that would require doing work, having answers and being accountable. This guy's been ignoring the tax-paying public since 1999. Nope, not that.

Not knowing about the condition of his brother's rental house on Fordham? After two years of violations? Nice to have fat family salaries and embarrass the City by being irresponsible and unaccountable. That was last year's scandal.

Problems at the Pearl St. rental? One violation dating back to 2009? Primer paint spotted on a yellow house for a year? No prosecutions from 2010 through 2013? We know landlords get five years to comply but no special considerations or double standards here, only consistent and transparent enforcement...and so on...

Are we waiting for the next issue?

Anonymous said...

Rosario DeLeon, the city of Aurora’s director of Public Properties, has been placed on suspension without pay for one month for failing to fix property standard violations in a timely manner on a property he co-owns.

While the situation is about a year old, the city on Aug. 21 set an administrative hearing for DeLeon’s rental property at 1021-1023 Pearl St., which he co-owns with his ex-wife, Elizabeth Carrizales, who also is a city employee.

At that time, Mayor Tom Weisner put DeLeon on administrative leave pending an internal investigation. With the investigation finished, city officials Tuesday publicly announced the suspension. They said it would cost DeLeon more than $10,000 in lost pay.

“As a top-level city executive, Mr. DeLeon should have promptly corrected the violations without the necessity of the administrative hearing process,” Weisner said. “His failure to do so is simply unacceptable. Although the city normally does not discuss personnel issues, I feel it is important for our citizens to be reassured that I have taken this matter seriously, especially considering Mr. DeLeon’s position and level of responsibility.”

According to city records, DeLeon failed to correct a property standards violation at the Pearl Street rental property for nearly a year after first being cited by the city’s Property Standards Division. Records show that property was cited for violations seven times in the last five years.

In August 2013, a city property inspector discovered a cracked driveway and other violations at the Pearl Street property that were not in compliance with city code. The city sent notice to DeLeon on Sept. 27, 2013, indicating the violation should be corrected by May 5, 2014.

The property was reinspected on July 7, and a notice was mailed July 18 notifying DeLeon of the continued violation and hearing date.

At the hearing, the property was found to be in compliance because work was done at the address after the July reinspection. City officials said it is common for a property owner to fix violations before the administrative hearing date.

DeLeon could not be reached for comment Tuesday afternoon. He owns four rental properties in the city.

Jim Pilmer, director of the city’s Neighborhood Standards Division, has said he knew DeLeon’s property had been referred to administrative hearing. But Carie Anne Ergo, chief of staff, said neither Weisner nor anyone in the mayor’s office knew until Aug. 21.

Both Ergo and Weisner said DeLeon received no special treatment, and that in the end, he went through the system like any other rental property owner would.

“He corrected the property violations, though not in a timely fashion,” Ergo said. “In the final analysis, the system worked properly.”

“My administration will not tolerate anything less than the highest standards of conduct,” Weisner said. “Hopefully, this lesson is not lost on Mr. DeLeon or any other city employee who owns rental property in the City of Aurora.”

DeLeon started his career with the city in 1985 as a parking meter checker. He was promoted through the years to director of Public Property, director of Neighborhood Standards, and eventually to Chief Operation Officer, overseeing divisions that include Property Standards. He was reassigned as director of Public Properties in October 2013, managing city-owned buildings and properties and overseeing the Maintenance Services and Street Services divisions.

His salary would be about $140,750 for 2014.

When DeLeon was reassigned last October, it was partly due to a department restructuring and also to a property standards scandal last year.

In June 2013, three city of Aurora employees were placed on administrative leave for the mismanagement of a property code violation case that cited one of the Property Standards Division’s own employee, Reymundo DeLeon, who is Rosario DeLeon’s brother.

Anonymous said...

What about the city employees he slept with? Something tells me it has nothing do with inspections or his properties.

Anonymous said...

This guy needs to just resign and quit embarrassing the Mayor and the taxpayers. Don't these people ever just go away?

Anonymous said...

So glad I am an Aurora tax payer.

Anonymous said...

Both articles mention that the Mayor was not aware of the case.

It's hilarious that we have two highly paid executives, Rosario "Full Family Employment" DeLeon and Jim "My Hobby's the Community" Pilmer, who didn't think it was necessary to let the Mayor or his top people know that his Public Property Director was being prosecuted.

DeLeon must not have wanted to be forthright, even though his rental property was cited while he was still Chief of Operations and responsible for City Property Standards. Pilmer must have thought it unnecessary, even though he's now the top Neighborhood Standards guy.

The case agenda was probably known a month before the August hearing date and I'm sure these guys spent plenty of time near the Mayor's office where the message could have been delivered.

Where most of us work, we're expected to pass along information like this to the boss.

Yet here we have zero professional responsibility and failure to communicate by two chiefies whose combined salary and benefit packages are easily over $300,000 courtesy of the taxpayers.

Geniuses at work.

Anonymous said...

No special considerations? In the final analysis, the system worked properly? Ha...only if you don't have a brain and don't own rental property.

Google Earth shows the condition of these Pearl St. houses, without any City Hall spin. The image shows that before repairs were made, the driveway was cracked in lots of places with weeds taking hold. The condition didn't just pop up at the 2013 inspection, the basis for the August, 2014 hearing. This drive had been deteriorating for several years.

So when did this driveway first get cited on the required annual inspection? If it was not cited, why? If it was cited, why weren't the repairs completed in previous years? Why no prosecution in 2012 or 2013?

Did Mr. DeLeon show poor judgment and a lack of professionalism, this time interfering and exempting his own property? Was there other incompetence?

The media needs to FOIA the records going back a few years. Ask for violation letters, records of follow-up inspections, pictures and directives from supervisors. Get the official licensing policies for the Property Standards Department. These are the rules that govern other landlords like myself who are not City employees.

We have a right to know how this driveway, so obviously in violation for so long, escaped the "system."

Was it "special consideration"? An independent investigation not done by the toadies from City Hall will answer that. Right now, this doesn't pass the smell test.

Anonymous said...

To whom much is entrusted, much is expected. Wha???

Anonymous said...

Back in 2004 or 2005, John Russell got a sweetheart deal on the sale of his house to District 131, when the district was buying up & demolishing houses to build the new fieldhouse. The district paid him considerably more than they paid his neighbors, with the understanding that Russell would report only favorable news about D131 in his paper.

No surprise that district spinmeister (and Farrakhan's disciple) Clayton Muhammad scored a city job a couple of years ago...corrupt cronies take care of one another.

Anonymous said...

The Daily Herald is every bit as bad as the Beacon News.

Anonymous said...

Looks like the City of Aurora blew the responsibility of taking out the trash but keeping Deleon on the payroll.

Anonymous said...

Deleon= ethical/integrity bankruptcy= fail.

Anonymous said...

How many Deleon relatives work for the City? Sons, brothers, daughters, sisters, uncles, aunts, brothers-in-law, sisters-in-law.
It's a fair question. It's an easy question that could be answered by at least four people on the City's payroll.
The public certainly has a right to know.
City employment needs to be fair and open. If it's not, laws need to be changed.