Marengo City Attorney resigns after mayor threatens removal from office

Former Marengo City Attorney Carlos Arevalo has resigned following the mayor telling him he’d be removed from office against City Council recommendation.

MARENGO – Marengo City Attorney Carlos Arevalo has resigned following the mayor telling him he’d be removed from office against City Council recommendation.

David McArdle is now acting city attorney for Marengo following Arevalo's resignation, which caused explosive debate – resulting in some members of the public calling out and questioning the council's professionalism – at Monday's City Council meeting.

Marengo City Council on Aug. 14 voted against consenting to Mayor John Koziol’s proposed appointment of McArdle, of Zukowski, Rogers, Flood and McArdle in Crystal Lake. The firm has nine attorneys that specialize in municipal law.

Council member Matt Keenum called the move to make McArdle acting city attorney an "abuse of power" on Koziol's part.

“We are being force-fed an attorney that the majority of council didn’t want," Keenum said. "An attorney who said he wouldn’t accept the position if the majority opposed it. The very same attorney that was asked to vacate this very position in the past. The majority of this council wants to move this city forward not backward. This action ... is a critical misstep and will almost certainly widen the divide in this council.”

Koziol said Arevalo didn’t have satisfactory answers to concerns the mayor brought up.

“He didn’t answer those questions or have good answers for my concerns,” Koziol said.”At that point I told him I was going to move forward with removing him from office. I gave him the option to resign and within 24 hours he had resigned.”

Koziol said he wasn’t going to discuss the details of what happened behind the scenes.

“I cannot get personal. I cannot get into what myself and Carlos discussed,” he said. “He chose resignation. He chose not to make this public. I will respect that.”

Under municipal code, the mayor has the right to appoint certain positions, including the city attorney, without council member’s approval, which Ward 4 Alderman Dennis Hammortree pointed out. Hammortree had favored the appointment at the Aug. 14 vote.

“The mayor hasn’t done anything that any other mayor doesn't have the authority to do,” Hammortree said. “He is the mayor. He was elected to that position for change. This happens all over. This isn’t new in politics.”

In a letter of resignation sent to Mayor Koziol, Arevalo said he was disappointed with how the process played out but he was proud of the work he had done for the city over the past 12 years.

"I wish to make it clear that, outside political objectives, there is no legitimate basis for my removal," he wrote. "Nevertheless I have determined that I cannot, professionally or in good conscience, continue to serve my role as City Attorney. ... Having served as a municipal attorney for close to 20 years, this is not the first time (nor will it be the last) that an election has resulted in changes being made. I only regret the manner in which this transition was handled."