Joliet defends new city manager
9/28/2017, 4:20 p.m.
The City of Bloomington owns a multi-purpose Coliseum (n/k/a Grossinger Motors Arena; f/k/a U.S. Cellular Coliseum) (hereinafter the “Coliseum”). Central Illinois Arena Management, a third-party management firm, was brought in to manage the Coliseum when the Coliseum opened in 2006. Central Illinois Arena Management’s ten year agreement to manage the Coliseum expired on March 31, 2016. VenueWorks took over management of the Coliseum on April 1, 2016.
On September 12, 2016, the City of Bloomington issued a press release announcing an investigation into past Coliseum operations (attached). David Hales, City Manager of Bloomington since 2009, noted “while there is great opportunity and hope for the future (of the Coliseum), we cannot ignore issues that may have occurred in the past.” Concerns by City staff of management of the Coliseum by Central Illinois Arena Management were promptly reported to the Illinois State Police. Mr. Hales was (and is) in full support of the investigation to determine whether unlawful conduct had occurred. On the advice of those in charge of the investigation, Mr. Hales and others with knowledge of the investigation were asked not to comment.
The investigation of Central Illinois Arena Management’s operation of the Coliseum took more than one year. Several days ago, Joliet Officials were alerted to a one hundred fifteen (115) page Bill Of Indictment filed against five (5) former operators of the Coliseum (attached). The former operators of the Coliseum were not City of Bloomington employees but rather management officials of Central Illinois Arena Management, the third-party management firm brought in to manage the Coliseum when the Coliseum opened in 2006.
It was announced on September 17, 2017 that David Hales (who will be the City Manager in Bloomington until mid-November) will be the next Joliet City Manager. Mr. Hales heeded the advice of those in charge of the investigation and understandably did not discuss the pending investigation to the City of Joliet during the interview process.
On September 25, 2107, the City of Bloomington issued a press release in reaction to the charges brought against the former operators of the Coliseum (attached). Most notable, “no City employee or official is alleged to be involved in any of the charges that were filed.” The complexity of the theft by management officials of Central Illinois Arena Management is evidenced by the 16+ month investigation and a 111-Count Bill of Indictment against five (5) individuals.
Mr. Hales and his team deserve credit for uncovering the unlawful activity and taking the appropriate action. We have heard from officials in Bloomington who are stunned that a local newspaper would turn this around and try to impugn one of those responsible for stopping the theft that allegedly occurred. Rather than look forward to the new management of Bloomington’s Coliseum by VenueWorks and put the past behind him and the City of Bloomington, Mr. Hales fully supported and cooperated with the investigation and allocated City resources to uncovering the wrongdoing. We look forward to Mr. Hales becoming our City Manager. His integrity will be an asset. The City Council approved a three-year Employment Agreement for Mr. Hales at its September 19, 2017, City Council meeting. It is anticipated Mr. Hales will begin his duties with the City of Joliet effective November 27, 2017.