After 2-Year Delay, Ethics Law Becomes Reality Vernon Hills Trustee Fights for and Gets New Ordinance

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Byline: Mark Spencer Daily Herald Staff Writer

Nearly two years after a controversy-filled Vernon Hills village election sparked a local ethics debate, Trustee Richard Emery got the reforms he wanted.

An ethics ordinance adopted by the village board this week largely mirrors the new state gift-ban law, designed to keep people and companies with business before a public body from giving presents to public officials that could influence their decisions.

But the ordinance also goes on to include sections that define conflicts of interest, prohibit disclosure of confidential information, forbid nepotism and require competitive selection of consultants and contractors. It also forbids village employees, elected officials and candidates in village elections from intimidating or soliciting political donations from village employees.

"No honest person is going to have a hard time dealing with this," said Emery, who kept pressing for the ordinance since the spring 1997 village elections. "I'm very persistent. I knew we wanted to do the right thing."

That last election raised accusations of improper spending and allegations a trustee used his influence to keep his wife's business open without passing a building inspection. …