Bills put chairman of airport on spot

The Chicago Executive Airport board chairman overstepped his authority in approving recent payments to a New Jersey consultant, some board members say.

Kevin Dohm's signing off on payments of about $20,000 to Airport Corporation of America Inc., headed by John Kennedy, violated board procedure that requires all bills be approved by airport manager Dennis Rouleau, said board member David Kolssak, who represents Wheeling.

"The board should be running the airport, not Dohm and the consultant," Kolssak said Monday.

Dohm said that he was following orders from officials in Wheeling and Prospect Heights, the towns that jointly own the former Palwaukee Airport. "President [Greg] Klatecki and Mayor [Rodney] Pace gave me the order to bring Mr. Kennedy on," he said.

Klatecki resigned as Wheeling village president in April, but J. Mark Rooney, Wheeling village manager and airport board member, said officials have no record of Klatecki directing the move. Prospect Heights' Pace, however, confirmed Dohm's account. Klatecki could not be reached for comment.

Kennedy, who has been paid $60,000, had been working with the airport and Wheeling since October on acquisition of a 4-acre parcel of airport land north of Hintz Road, where Wheeling would like to build a fire station, Dohm said.

Kennedy declined to comment on the controversy, but said his company has been in the airport management consulting field for 25 years.

Even after a conversation with Dohm, Rouleau said, he was unclear about what Kennedy was doing for the airport. "I felt very uncomfortable about signing any more bills," Rouleau said of the decision to have Dohm sign the last three invoices from Kennedy's company for a total of $19,826.

Dohm and L. James Wylie, who represents Prospect Heights on the board, said Kennedy is advising on land acquisition, including last fall's purchase from Prospect Heights of 14 acres for a runway safety area south of the main runway.

Rooney and Kolssak said the board has yet to see a report from Airport Corporation of America, and Kolssak said the company's billing includes only the duration of meetings and participants.

Board member Ralph Shepstone of Prospect Heights said the problem is Dohm's failure to keep board members informed.

Resolutions that would have limited the board chairman's ability to take independent action and given the board more control over the airport manager were rejected Wednesday.

The seven-member board includes three representatives each from Wheeling and Prospect Heights, with the chairman chosen by town leaders.


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