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Housing Authority lawyer claims board terms don’t expire this year

Updated: October 4, 2012 6:11AM

AURORA — An Aurora Housing Authority attorney says that city records are wrong and the terms of two Housing Authority board members do not expire this month.

Last week, City Assistant Chief of Staff Rick Guzman told The Beacon-News that AHA board Chairman Al Schuler’s term expires on Sept. 13, 2012, and board member Bill Burns’ term expires on Sept. 30, 2012.

In a letter forwarded to Mayor Tom Weisner, AHA attorney Jennifer Soule said the expiration dates for Schuler and Burns were recorded incorrectly by the city. Instead, Soule said, Schuler’s term expires on Oct. 13, 2014, and Burns’ term expires on Sept. 30, 2013.

Although Schuler’s term expired on Sept. 30, 2008, he was not officially reappointed by the City Council until Oct. 13, 2009.

Burns was appointed to fill out the term of former board member Paul Stewart in 2004.

That term, expired on Sept. 20, 2007, but Burns was not reappointed by City Council until Aug. 13, 2008.

Four-year, five-year terms

Guzman said Friday that the City sticks by the 2012 term expiration dates, that Schuler and Burns’ terms do in fact expire this month.

According to city records, that would mean Burns had served a five-year term by the expiration date. But also according to city records, that would mean Schuler had served a four-year term, if it was set to expire in September 2012. Under Illinois code, Burns and Schuler both should have been reappointed to five-year terms.

According to a 2000 letter sent to then-Mayor David Stover by former Housing Authority Executive Director Rick Brace, at some point the City Council was mistakenly reappointing board members to three-year terms.

Guzman said the City Council minutes specifically list term expiration dates for Burns and Schuler.

“I don’t think there can be any ambiguity of what City Council approved,” he said.

Guzman said it is the city’s procedure that a board member’s new term begins from when the last term expired, even if they are re-appointed by City Council a year or two later.

It is not uncommon for board members to continue to serve after their terms have expired but before they are reappointed by City Council, he said.
“That is our standard procedure to date back to when the last term expired,” Guzman said. “The bottom line is this is what Council approved so this is what we’re following.”

Fair housing complaint

In Friday’s letter, Soule also said the AHA has filed an amended fair housing complaint against the city.

The amendment, filed with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, comes after board members Myrna Molina and Avis Miller were replaced by Weisner in August. The City Council confirmed new AHA board members Bill Powell and Rey Cruz last week.

Soule said the actions to remove Molina and Miller were taken on the heels of an AHA board vote to approve an original fair housing complaint against the city.

The city and the Housing Authority have been waging an extended battle over redevelopment at the Jericho Circle public housing complex site on Jericho Road.

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