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Could Police Chief Joe Pena Take Over Village Manager Position Permanently?

Channahon Village Board members are considering shuffling existing employees instead of hiring a replacement village manager.

Joe Pena has been wearing two hats for some time now, having assumed the role of interim village manager this summer while also entering his fourth year as Channahon police chief.

And while Village Board members seem to agree that Pena is doing a good job in both roles, they recognize that this dual employment can't go on forever. At a Dec. 3 special meeting, Village Board members expressed concerns about the community's perception of the situation and decided something needed to be done.

“The discussion centered on the concern of perception in the community,” Channahon Police Chief and Interim Village Manager Joe Pena said. “It was kind of difficult to decide if I was acting as a chief or as an administrator.”

However, the board decided hiring someone to be a full-time administrator would be too costly a solution.

“With funds and the economy the way they are, we are probably better staying the course as we are,” Pena said.

Board members asked Village Attorney Dave Silverman whether it would be possible to move Pena into a village manager position full time and promote Channahon Deputy Police Chief Jeff Wold into the chief position. Neither man would see an increase in pay and the $120,000 a year that had gone to an administrator position would remain in the village budget. Board members asked Silverman to draft a document setting up that arrangement to take effect for the time being, providing that Pena and Wold could resume their original positions when and if the village's financial situation improves.

Though Pena is currently performing the jobs of both police chief and village administrator, he only collects a salary of about $100,000 in connection with the police chief position.

As Channahon police chief since December 2007, Pena would need to remain an employee of the village for eight years to be vested in a pension, under current village pension rules. This would be the case no matter what his job is within the village. Pena is already collecting a pension from his 30-plus years on the force in East Dundee, but that comes from a separate entity than the Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund, which is used by Channahon.

It is not unheard of for village manager and police chief roles to be combined. In Indian Head Park, that has been the case for many years. Closer to Channahon and Minooka, the village of Oswego He remains in the dual roles.

A little further away, the city of Darien debated the possibility of . It was and , village board members chose to

Former Channahon 's last day was July 31.

If board members move forward to reassign job titles, Pena and Wold's salaries would continue to come from the general fund, as does all pay for village employees, but the line item would be different. Pena, who is currently under police services, would move to administration. Village board members are expected to discuss this issue at the meeting Dec. 19. The committee of the whole session begins at 6 p.m., with the board meeting following after.

Bob December 16, 2011 at 02:16 PM
I can't believe Pena would say it would be difficult to decide if he was acting chief or an administrator, we have enough actors in this administration who think they are leaders, what we really need are leaders who will take this sinking village and actually make it so people will want to live here again. Please Santa all we want for Christmas is a real administration not just actors.
Tim December 16, 2011 at 04:49 PM
Wow. A recent poll over at the morris herald shows less than 8% of people think Joe Pena is doing a good job. He has a lower rating than congress, and the board thinks he should be given a full time position making bad choices? Doing this would basically assure the village would lose the $100M lawsuit against it, which is supported by over 120+ communities in the region. Remember, this is the same guy that brought you the 'accidental' tax increase because he couldn't bother to take the time to even read the tax documents the entire village board voted on and passed. The train-wreck continues
joe December 16, 2011 at 04:58 PM
I have to agree with tim above. I think we should make a change and hire out the admin position at 50 grand a year.. considering the economy there are plenty of qualified people who would take the job and make sure it goes out to a channahon resident. Also have pena take a salary cut to 70 a year or resign and let jeff wold take the job. Now we just saves 100 grand and have both positions filled.
Karen Meier December 16, 2011 at 10:50 PM
I agee with the above. but also feel that Pena's conflict of interest in both jobs has led to the his and boards poor decision to increase taxes, also he already collects a pension from somewhere else and can double dip so to speak on the pensions from here, no wonder the stare is broke and the town of Channahon could possibly become bankrupt paying cook co. and the city of chicago lawsuits for the poor leadership here. Oh yeah has Cook taken out Pena for an expensive dinner on the backs of our village taxpayers yet?
Karen Meier December 16, 2011 at 10:55 PM
another thought, isn't the next election for the village president and the board be interesting, can we afford such careless leaders?
Dawn Aulet (Editor) December 16, 2011 at 11:36 PM
Karen, Joe Cook was reelected in April 2011 and is serving a 4-year term. http://channahon-minooka.patch.com/articles/judie-nash-concedes-race-to-cook-cook-thanks-voters The position of village president will not be up for vote until 2015.
Tim December 17, 2011 at 12:17 AM
If you actually reported on things that were happening with regard to the local government, the residents(and you) would know that Joe Cook is being sentenced in federal court in Chicago for his federal tax fraud crimes, in just over three more weeks. http://www.suntimes.com/news/politics/8409242-418/channahon-mayor-joe-cook-pleads-guilty-to-tax-fraud.html "He is scheduled to return to court for sentencing on Jan. 17, when he’ll face up to two years in prison and restitution of about $14,000, according to the plea agreement." He already pled guilty to it, all that remains is the sentencing. He may well end up with jail time at worst, or a serious criminal conviction at best. The fact that nobody seems to have noticed this is nothing short of astonishing. Do you think he is going to be serving as mayor from inside a prison cell?
Karen Meier December 17, 2011 at 02:19 AM
so your saying Dawn, that I am wrong to question his integrity? I didn't vote for him in the 2011 election, and after all thats been going on here, I question who I will vote for. So what if he was reelected, That doesn't mean I am not angery about what has gone on and question his leadership. Tim, i have read that article and can't believe that he acts as if he had a good reason to do it. Some people need to open their eyes. Unfortuately he'll get a slap on his wrist and try to run again, apparently he still has support. Dawn, I am not afraid to post when I feel our leaders are qustionable. I don't don't need to treated like I am a bad little girl and am aware of terms and who was re-elected.
Cedgar December 17, 2011 at 06:23 PM
Where in the heck does Dawn suggest that Karen is wrong, or treat her like a bad little girl? Dawn, after reading these nutty posts, do you ever feel like quitting??? You can't win. :) Either way, I think the most aggravating part of the story for me is the comment that Joe Pena "only collects a salary of $100,000...". Again, "Only...$100,000". What value is the community getting for this ridiculous wage? Temporarily doing double-duty or not, this salary is just plain wrong. This is Channahon. We are paying a lot of money for what...fabulous seat-belt enforcement?
Tim December 17, 2011 at 07:15 PM
Dawn should quit. Maybe someone who is actually a reporter would take her place, instead of the obvious politically motivated stories she posts now. Never a mention about who among the current board members has their signatures all over the documents that the village is now getting sued for. No mention of the fact that Kankakee has begun to set aside money(now approaching $100K) to handle the legal fees for the lawsuit it is facing along with Channahon. No mention of the complete lack of action by the village of Channahon in addressing this same problem. No mention of the fact that Plass Furniture has already fled the village, taking its tax revenue paid to the village along with it, because of the negative attention these lawsuits are creating throughout the northern Illinois region. No mention of any of the serious problems facing the village. Instead, stories like that that attempt to portray these incompetent, and now criminally convicted, officials in a positive light. But, she has no problem posting a story about a resident who gets a DUI in another town, and making a story to single her out. People have begun to see through Dawn, and her motives. She has firmly attached her wagon to the politics and policies of those who caused the problems the village is now facing, and is rightfully getting called out for it now.
Dawn Aulet (Editor) December 17, 2011 at 08:02 PM
Karen, I was simply pointing out that the village president position is not up for a vote until 2015. In no way did I mean to imply that you could not voice, question or call to action your leaders. Mistyped in the last post and corrected it.
Trish Meyers December 19, 2011 at 08:24 PM
I think we all need to attend the town meeting on December 19 to voice opinions. How is it possible to just "move" someone into a position. Good old Chicago politics continues!
Tim December 19, 2011 at 08:33 PM
I offered all of these things you mention for many, many months. Nobody wanted to listen, so instead of wasting my time with things I can not control I focused on things I could control and moved myself away from the impending disaster that so many seem to WANT to occur. Now, I can stand here making these points, to those who MIGHT still listen. Every single resident is free to look up all the information I have presented on their own, there is no reason to take my word for it. However, when I continue to see the same attitudes that led me to move out of an area that I did actually like, I will continue to make my stance very, very vocal. Not everyone has the resources that I do, and I'm sure there are some people who are unable to move out, even if they wanted to. They are the ones who will have to shoulder the serious problems caused by these officials that have been given what amounts to a free pass by both the majority of residents, as well as these pretend reporters. If my 'complaining' leads just one more person to begin to seriously look at what has been going on within the local government, then it has served its purpose.
Skb December 20, 2011 at 02:22 AM
100 million I hope this doesn't affect me.i live in Minooka but have channahon schools.

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