Political fallout continues -- with less than a week until Election Day -- over Rolling Meadows Alderman Joe Gallo's filing of paperwork for a grant without the city council's approval.
A heated debate among city council members came at the conclusion of their meeting Tuesday night -- a day after Mayor Len Prejna used much of his address to the city's business community to highlight the importance of grants city staff have applied for and received.
It was an apparent reference to a controversy that erupted in February, when Gallo -- one of three candidates challenging Prejna for mayor in the April 2 election -- was criticized by council colleagues for seeking a National Safety Council grant without their approval.
On Feb. 12, aldermen voted to formally advise the Itasca-based organization that the city didn't authorize the application, effectively withdrawing it. In a related matter, they also voted 6-1 to demand the Illinois Autonomous Vehicles Association remove the city's seal from its website and materials, and references to the city being a municipal partner.
On Tuesday, Alderman Rob Williams took on Gallo -- not for the purpose of the grant or its potential cost, Williams said, but for seeking it without "adequate authority."
"I am bothered by the rather casual approach taken by Alderman Gallo, whose careless action created the necessity for the city to pull its name from the support of an organization, which for all intents and purposes appears to be worthy, because the approval did not come from the consensus of the council before being insinuated or given," the Ward 7 alderman said in prepared remarks. "That was an embarrassment for us all."
Several Gallo supporters were in the city council audience wearing blue "Vote for Change -- Joe Gallo" T-shirts. During some of the crowd's verbal displeasure, Prejna used his gavel and called for order, at one point threatening to have the room cleared.
Gallo said his opponents were making a "political mockery" out of the matter instead of focusing on issues important to the city.
"The reason this application for a grant -- which was not the actual grant -- came before the city council was because there was positive publicity with my name attached to it and I happened to be running for mayor and another alderman on this council did not like it and he ran to the city manager and filed a complaint about this," said Gallo, not naming the fellow alderman.
Gallo said resolutions to withdraw the grant application and remove the city seal appeared on the agenda before he was able to talk about the grant proposal at a meeting.
Prejna criticized Gallo for not providing city officials the 10-page application, saying he was "not forthcoming." The mayor also questioned the possible costs to the city for the program, which would expand a test of technology in city fire trucks that digitally alerts drivers of oncoming emergency vehicles through phone apps.
Gallo said there would be no cost "because of relationships I have fostered."
Prejna and Gallo face Alderman John D'Astice and Planning and Zoning Commission Vice Chair Dave Whitney on the ballot for mayor. Williams faces Lara Sanoica, a Gallo supporter, in the Ward 7 aldermanic race.