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Ethics panel dismisses complaint against Wollin

Evanston’s Board of Ethics voted unanimously tonight to reject claims that Ald. Cheryl Wollin, 1st Ward, acted improperly in accepting post-election campaign contributions.

In moving to reject the complaint, board member Ruth Lipschutz said the contributions were properly disclosed and lawful under the state election code and therefore don’t constitute a violation of the city ethics code.

The complaint had been filed last September by Margaret Kelly of 828 Colfax St., a backer of Wollin’s opponent in last year’s aldermanic election.

Ms. Kelly, who did not attend tonight’s hearing, had argued in her complaint that the contributions were inappropriate because some of the contributors have a financial interest in issues that may come before the council.

Both candidates in the 1st Ward race have received substantial post-election contributions to pay costs resulting from a legal challenge to the vote filed by the losing candidate, Judy Fiske.

The board decided to seek more information about another question Ms. Kelly raised, whether Ald. Wollin should have refrained from voting on an ordinance to repave the alley behind the condominium building in which she lives.

Ald. Wollin told the board that because the ethics code permits aldermen to make use of any benefit that exists for all citizens there was no violation, and that she fully disclosed her interest in the project at the meeting of the Administration and Public Works Committee where the project was discussed.

She said the city has a long-standing policy that it will pay half the cost of paving any alley where a majority of property owners on the alley agree to pay the other half.

She said the assessment on her condo for the alley paving project will amount to $780.

Board members said they expect to resolve that issue at their next meeting, April 19.

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