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Simonian's ethics complaint against Burns, firefighter continues in court

GENEVA – An ethics complaint filed against Mayor Kevin Burns during the spring election campaign continues in recent court filings in Kane County, records show.

Former 5th Ward Alderman Tom Simonian sought administrative review, asking the court to reverse the Geneva Ethics Commission’s dismissal of his ethics complaint. He filed the complaint last March against Mayor Kevin Burns and Deputy Fire Chief Mark Einwich, in which he alleged Einwich performed political activity while on duty for Burns’ campaign in uniform while using a city vehicle.

Simonian seeks a new ethics hearing before a panel without ties to Burns.

In testimony before the Geneva Ethics Commission, Einwich said a Burns campaign sign became lodged under his city-issued vehicle. He texted Burns as to what to do with it and Burns texted back that he could drop it off at his house.

The commission dismissed the complaint for lack of evidence that Einwich intentionally distributed political campaign signs using the city’s resources, or that he was intentionally campaigning for Burns.

Simonian and Burns both were candidates for Geneva mayor in the April 4 consolidated election. Burns won a fifth term for mayor.

In court papers filed Dec. 21 seeking summary judgment, Simonian’s attorney Timothy McLean argued that one commissioner – commission chairman Timothy Moran according to the hearing minutes – characterized the ethics ordinance violations as “hyper technical.”

“Having confirmed that there were ‘two hyper technical’ violations … chairman Moran then contradicted himself by deciding that there was no probable cause to go further,” McLean's filing stated.

But city attorney Alexandra Shenoo, in her Dec. 22 motion for summary judgment, argued that Einwich’s activities “do not come close to the examples of a prohibited political activity laid out in the ordinance.”

“He merely picked up an abandoned sign and returned it to the owner,” Shenoo’s filing stated. “He didn’t display the sign or stick it in the ground to support the Mayor’s campaign. Instead, he delivered the sign to the mayor’s house and tucked it behind some bricks.”

McLean's filing also argued – among other issues – that the three members of the commission should have recused themselves because they had been appointed by Burns, and that at least one had a Burns campaign sign in his yard.

McLean also argued that the commission did not allow Simonian to explore whether its members were biased.

But Shenoo countered that Simonian “did not present any facts regarding which commissioners displayed yard signs … or any other relevant evidence,” Shenoo’s filing stated.

The case is continued for hearing Feb. 28 before Kane County Judge David Akemann.

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