Check out the following links for articles containing helpful information relating to municipal government finance matters.


Types of Bonds - Part 4 of Financing Options Using Bonds

Illinois Municipal Review

May 2016


Types of Bonds - Part 3 of Financing Options Using Bonds

Illinois Municipal Review

April 2016


Avoiding Unnecessary Litigation in the Enforcement of Sign Codes

Illinois Municipal Review

March 2016


Sales Tax: How to Increase Distributions and Improve Forecasts and Cash Flow Estimates

Illinois Municipal Review

March 2016


Types of Bonds - Part 2 of Financing Options Using Bonds

Illinois Municipal Review

March 2016


Financing Options Using Bonds for Illinois Cities and Villages

Illinois Municipal Review

February 2016


Fraud Happens – Prevention Starts with a Plan

Illinois Municipal Review

February 2016


The Illinois GFOA: Meeting the Unique Needs of Government Finance Professionals

Illinois Municipal Review

February 2016


The Top Legal Cases of 2015 that Could Affect Your Municipality’s Wallet

Illinois Municipal Review

February 2016



Client Corner

February 12, 2018
Amy Zale and Mike McGrath secure a win for Calumet City

On 2/12/18, the US District Court for the Northern District of Illinois entered an order granting the City’s motion to dismiss in the case, Pulliam v. City of Calumet City.  Plaintiff filed a lawsuit against Calumet City claiming it improperly demolished his properties without giving him prior notice.  Amy Zale and Mike McGrath filed a motion to dismiss, arguing that plaintiff was barred from relief because he did not file the suit within the time allotted by the statute of limitations.  The court agreed and dismissed the case.  This dismissal at the early stages of the lawsuit saved the City from incurring further legal fees.  Great job, Amy and Mike!

October 18, 2016
Mark Sterk and Mike Hayes achieve unusual victory in Federal Court

In a recent federal jury trial, Odelson & Sterk partners, Mark Sterk and Michael Hayes Jr., achieved a victory in an unusual manner for Village of Lyons Police Officer Nathan O’Connor.  Following the pre-trial dismissal of other claims and parties, the jury trial began on plaintiff’s remaining claim that Officer O’Conner used excessive force during an arrest.  Although Officer O’Connor admitted using force, including a Taser, in arresting plaintiff, the defense asserted at trial that the force used was reasonable and necessary under the circumstances in response to plaintiff’s failure to leave an ex-girlfriend’s apartment, his resistance to arrest and battery to the arresting officers.


Following the start of trial, plaintiff became agitated and theatrical in the presence of the jury.  Throughout plaintiff’s direct testimony and cross-examination, the court sustained countless objections from defense counsel concerning plaintiff’s non-responsive answers and gestures.  In response to the multiple objections and delays caused by plaintiff’s behavior, the court stopped the trial on several occasions to admonish plaintiff’s counsel about the possible consequences of plaintiff’s continued inappropriate behavior.


However, plaintiff became even more agitated as the trial progressed and the court continued to admit defendant’s trial exhibits, including a record of all of plaintiff’s prior criminal convictions.


Plaintiff became even more agitated during the second day of trial while listening to testimony from Officer O’Connor and co-arresting Officer Studlow contradicting plaintiff’s version of the arrest.  Following the end of testimony that day, plaintiff threatened Officer Studlow outside of the courtroom.  Defense counsel immediately alerted the judge of the threat and the court began a Rule to Show Cause hearing to investigate the charge and determine whether plaintiff should be sanctioned.  The hearing included testimony from three witnesses, including two court employees not involved with the trial, describing what they observed and heard outside of the courtroom.  The court found that plaintiff did threaten Officer Studlow.   Considering the threat and plaintiff’s behavior during the trial as a whole, the court ruled that plaintiff’s actions deprived defendant of a fair trial and warranted the ultimate sanction of dismissal of the lawsuit.  As a result of the dismissal, the court also ordered plaintiff to pay certain defense costs.


Mid-trial dismissals are difficult to achieve, and those obtained as a result of sanctions against a plaintiff for conduct during the trial are extremely rare.  The judge remarked to the parties following the dismissal that this was the first time in his long career that he had been involved in or heard of such a case.

July 31, 2016
RidgeFest 2016 a success (even with all the rain!)

The firm was proud to sponsor RidgeFest 2016 in the Village of Chicago Ridge.  The event this past weekend was a huge success, and the rain did little to deter people from getting out and enjoying delicious food from local vendors and great music.  There were also exotic animals – a lion, tiger and camel – as well as rides and games for all ages to enjoy.  The fest ended with a fireworks show set to a Disney theme.  Can’t wait to see what the Village will do next year!

July 13, 2016
Cary Horvath obtains summary judgment in Calumet City lawsuit

Hope Allen, the former secretary to the Mayor of Calumet City, filed suit in 2012 against the City, the Mayor, the Purchasing and Personnel Director and the Aldermen alleging, among other things, retaliation, violation of free speech, interference and failure to hire, all of which were motivated by her protected political speech.  There was also a defamation claim.  Luke Casson was Ms. Allen’s attorney.  Today, the Court found there was no private cause of action for the damages claimed by Allen; (2) her complaint did not state a legally recognizable claim since there is no claim for retaliatory failure to hire or renew employment in Illinois; and (3) defendants were entitled to immunity on the defamation claim.  The Court dismissed all remaining counts of the eleven originally filed and granted the City’s motion for summary judgment.


Click Here to read the decision.

July 6, 2016
Appellate Court affirms decision granting summary judgment in favor of Calumet City and officers

On July 6, 2016, the Appellate Court affirmed the circuit court’s decision granting summary judgment in favor of all defendants in the Watts v. Calumet City, et al. lawsuit.  The case involved a 15 year old autistic boy who was shot by police after he lunged at and cut one of the responding officers with a large steak knife.  The circuit court agreed with our arguments that (1) the shooting was reasonable and done in self-defense and defense of others and (2) the officers were immune under the Tort Immunity Act.  The plaintiff then appealed claiming defendants’ actions were willful and wanton and thus, the immunity did not apply.


John Murphey and our office – Mike McGrath, Richard Bruen and Cary Horvath – were successful in arguing that the officers’ only option, though tragic, was to use deadly force to prevent further harm.  The Appellate Court upheld the decision that the officers’ actions were not willful and wanton.  It is especially critical today that we recognize the dangers faced by officers every day and refrain from judging when hindsight seems so revealing.  Any call could potentially result in a dangerous situation where officers must make split second decisions.  Because so many weigh in after the fact – and often without knowing all the facts – it is important for law enforcement to have capable lawyers behind them who will work diligently in their favor.  A great job by the lawyers on this case in defending the actions of the Calumet City Police Department.


Click Here to read the decision.

June 29, 2016
EPHS District 231 chooses Odelson & Sterk as District Attorneys

EPHS LogoOn Wednesday, June 29, 2016, the firm was selected by the School Board of Evergreen Park High School District 231 as the District’s attorneys.  We look forward to working with the Board to provide quality representation for the high school.

June 15, 2016
Mayors Getty, Hastings and Presta among many honored at the 20th Annual Make a Difference Dinner

So many community leaders and law enforcement officials in Illinois work day in, and day out, to make the communities they serve safe and enjoyable for residents and visitors.  In order to recognize these efforts and accomplishments, the Illinois State Crime Commission/Police Athletic League of Illinois hosts an annual dinner honoring several men and women each year.  At this year’s event on June 15, 2016, three of the firm’s clients’ mayors were honored – Mayor Christopher Getty of the Village of Lyons, Mayor Kyle Hastings of the Village of Orland Hills, and Mayor Louis Presta of the Village of Crestwood – as well as State Senator Michael Hastings.


Click Here to read more.


June, 2016
Calumet City Chief of Police featured in Illinois Association Chiefs of Police magazine

The new Chief of Police of Calumet City, Christopher Fletcher, was featured in the "New Chiefs" section of the Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police magazine.  Chief Fletcher is a 29-year veteran of the Chicago Police Department.  Mayor Michelle Qualkinbush selected Chief Fletcher after a search was conducted by Hillard Heintze.  The attorneys at Odelson & Sterk, Ltd. welcome Chris, and look forward to working with him.


Click Here to read more about Chief Fletcher.

June 13, 2016
Mike Hayes and Liz Shine Hermes "tee up" for kids

On Monday, June 13, 2016, Mike Hayes and Liz Shine Hermes attended Mayor Hugh Hermanek’s charity golf outing at the Riverside Golf Club.  The proceeds of the outing benefit the North Riverside Youth Program and Educational Scholarship Fund.  Odelson & Sterk was proud to sponsor this event and join the Mayor and the Village of North Riverside in their efforts to provide scholarships and opportunities for recreational activities for kids.

MJH, ESH NR Golf Outing






June 7, 2016
South Suburban Conference celebrates 10 years of success

Ten years ago, Burt Odelson represented high schools that were part of the old “SICA” Conference.  He handled the Federal litigation that ended with an agreement that formed the South Suburban Conference and the Southwest Suburban Conference.  The high schools in the South Suburban Conference are Argo, Bremen, Eisenhower, Evergreen Park, Hillcrest, Lemont, Oak Forest, Oak Lawn, Reavis, Richards, Shepard, Thornton Fractional North, Thornton Fractional South and Tinley Park High Schools.  Odelson & Sterk is proud to represent Community High School District 218 (Eisenhower, Richards and Shepard); Oak Lawn Community High School District 229; and Reavis High School District 220.


On June 7, 2016  the Conference celebrated it’s 10 year Anniversary by recognizing the achievements of Coaches and Students who were part of 31 State Champion Teams and over 100 Individual State Champions in both athletics and activities.  Odelson & Sterk was a proud sponsor of this event.  Pictured with Mary Ryan Norwell in the photos below are Dr. Theresa Nolan, Principal of Tinley Park High School; Dr. Gary Rauch, Principal of Eisenhower High School; Dr. Josh Barron, Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction at Community High School District 218; Dr. Ty Harting, Superintendent of Community High School District 218; and Dr. Michael Riordan, Superintendent of Oak Lawn Community High  School.


June 6, 2016
Odelson & Sterk supports Community High School District 218 Foundation

One of our high school district’s annual foundation golf outing on June 6, 2016, at the Odyssey Golf Course, included Michael Stillman, Matthew Byrne, Amy Zale and Elizabeth Shine Hermes.  The firm enjoys supporting charitable organizations, like The Friends of CHSD 218 Education Foundation, for its clients.

SD 218 Golf Outing







May 13, 2016
Mark Sterk attends Annual Dinner of the West Central Municipal Conference

On May 13, 2016, Mark Sterk joined other guests at the West Central Municipal Conference Annual Dinner held at the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center in Rosemont.  He is pictured below with Attorney Marty Stack and Tom Sheahan, Village Administrator for the Village of Lyons.

5.13.16 Annual Dinner pic







April 22, 2016
Claudia Castro and Luke Keller attend IML's Municipal Attorney's Seminar

On April 22, 2016, Claudia Castro and Luke Keller attended the 2016 Illinois Municipal League’s Municipal Attorney’s Seminar in Bloomington, Illinois.  The all-day seminar consisted of speakers from throughout the state presenting on topics affecting local governments, including ethics and social media, police liability, public comments and the Open Meetings Act, tax levy ordinances, etc.  Keeping abreast of the latest happenings in municipal law ensures the best possible representation for our clients.  Additional information concerning these topics and others affecting municipalities can be obtained through the IML’s website or by contacting us.


April 21, 2016
Recognizing women in property tax law

At the April 21, 2016, Women’s Property Tax Appeal Association’s Inauguration Party, Luke Keller helped the Association to recognize all the women in property tax law and their contributions to the field.  The event was held at the Union League Club in Chicago and had a great turn out.  In addition to celebrating all women in property tax, also honored at the inaugural party were guest of honor, Maria Pappas, Cook County Treasurer, and other members of the Cook County tax system.

Please contact Liz Shine, Lauren Glennon or Luke Keller for any of your property tax needs.

Below is a photo of Luke and Katerine O’Dell of Amari & Locallo from the event.

April 21, 2016
Congrats to George Vallis of Calumet City on his retirement!

We would like to wish George Vallis a very happy retirement after his over 30 years of combined service as the Police Chief and then Purchasing and Personnel Director for the City of Calumet City. We hope you enjoyed your surprise party! Pictured below from left to right are George Vallis, Dennis Gianopoulos (Corporation Counsel), Rusty Larson (Freedom of Information Officer), Mayor Michelle Markiewicz Qualkinbush, Burt Odelson (City Attorney) and Pat O’Meara (former Police Chief).

Vallis retirement photo

April 14, 2016
Former Chicago Police Superintendent, Terry Hillard, and Current Chicago Police Superintendent, Eddie Johnson, support new Chief of Police, Chris Fletcher, in Calumet City

Cary Horvath, Odelson & Sterk Partner and City Attorney of Calumet City, attended the swearing-in of the new Chief of Police, Chris Fletcher, on April 14, 2016.  Chief Fletcher is a 29-year veteran of the Chicago Police Department.  Mayor Michelle Markiewicz Qualkinbush selected Chief Fletcher, who received unanimous approval from the City Council.  Chief Fletcher succeeds Chief Edward Gilmore, who was selected by President Obama to be the U.S. Marshal for the Northern District of Illinois.  Congratulations to Chief Fletcher and the City of Calumet City!


Below are several photos from the swearing-in ceremony.

April 12, 2016
Felicia Frazier named labor counsel for Village of Burnham

At the Village Board meeting on April 12, 2016, Mayor Polk and the Village Board unanimously appointed Felicia Frazier of Odelson & Sterk, Ltd. as labor counsel.  Felicia will be handling all matters related to collective bargaining.


Congrats to the Village of Burnham and Felicia!

April 12, 2016
Mayor Nowaczyk leads historic annexation to Tri-State Fire Protection District for residents of Willow Springs

The Circuit Court approved the results of the March 15th referendum where the residents of Willow Springs overwhelmingly annexed to the Tri-State Fire Protection District.  This will provide a consolidation of government which is so sorely needed in Illinois.  Tri-State already serves the Villages of Darien, Burr Ridge, Willowbrook and Unincorporated DuPage and will provide the highest quality of fire and ambulance protection to the Village at a lower cost.  Mayor Nowaczyk and the Board of Trustees have proven again that the Village residents are well-served by their representation.


Congratulations to Mayor Alan and the Board!


Click Here for a copy of the final order approving the referendum.


April 8, 2016
Mayor Ronald Denson of Calumet Park has successful gala

On Friday, April 8, 2016, Mayor Ronald Denson of the Village of Calumet Park and over 500 of his friends celebrated at Idlewild Country Club.  Felicia Frazier, Claudia Castro, Luke Keller and Burt Odelson from Odelson & Sterk, Ltd. attended the event.  Check out the photos below.

April 6, 2016
WCMC annual Springfield drive-down

On Wednesday, April 6, 2016, Odelson & Sterk attorney, Claudia Castro, attended the West Central Municipal Conference's Annual Springfield Legislative Conference and Reception. At the conference, Claudia met with legislative members to discuss important bills affecting local governments. Below are photos of Claudia with state legislators including Representative Jaime Andrade, several local municipal mayors including Christopher Getty, President of the WCMC and Mayor of the Village of Lyons; Hubert Hermanek, Mayor of the Village of North Riverside; and Jeffrey Sherwin, Mayor of the City of Northlake.

April 5, 2016
Attention all incumbents and potential candidates for municipal and school elections

The municipal and school election season is right around the corner! The elections which are the most important for our tax dollars - our communities and our schools - are in February, 2017 and April, 2017. Odelson & Sterk has represented mayors, clerks, trustees, aldermen, school board members, park commissioners, township supervisors and trustees, and many others over the past 5 decades. Check back soon for helpful hints. In the meantime, if any information is needed, please call Joyce Romanowski at (708) 424-5678 or send an email to

March 16, 2016
Great election night victories!

Elections image


As Village attorneys for the Village of Summit, we were responsible for putting the referendum question for home rule on the ballot.


After that was accomplished, Mayor Sergio Rodriquez, Clerk Sergio Garcia, and the Board of Trustees worked very hard to educate the voters as to the benefits of home rule.  The voters said “Yes” by a margin of 946 to 810.  The Village Attorney, Claudia Castro, will wait until the County Clerk certifies the results and then present the appropriate ordinance to the Village for passage.


Congratulations to Mayor Rodriguez, Clerk Garcia, and the Board on this great victory!


Willow Springs

Congratulations to Willow Springs Mayor Alan Nowaczyk, the Village Board, and Village Administrator Bill Murray for a tremendous election victory!


The Village passed a referendum merging the Village into the Tri-State Fire Protection District.  Mike McGrath, Willow Springs Village Attorney, was successful in getting the referendum on the ballot through the Circuit Court.  The residents passed the referendum 1,293 to 616.  The merger will take effect after the County Clerk certifies the election results, and the Circuit Court approves the order allowing the merger.  This will allow continued excellent fire protection for the residents and businesses of Willow Springs.


Reavis High School - District 220

Congratulations to Superintendent Dan Riordan, Board President Mary Cook, and the School Board Members of Reavis High School-District 220 on the passage of the education tax rate increase referendum.  The residents of the School District voted 3793 to 3141 to increase the tax rate in order to provide sufficient funds to continue the quality education and programs at Reavis.


Burt Odelson, the attorney for Reavis High School, prepared the referendum resolution, and worked with Business Manager Ray Negrete, and Assistant Superintendent Tim Smith, on the referendum question and preparation for the election.

February 24, 2016
Congrats to Mike Schofield, newly appointed Fire Chief for Orland Fire Protection District

Congratulations to Chief Michael Schofield who was appointed the new Fire Chief for the Orland Fire Protection District. We would also like to congratulate his son, Mike Schofield who as a rookie tackle for the Denver Broncos, just won the Super Bowl. It has been a great year for the Schofield family.

February 17, 2016
Mary Lou Norwell attends Congressman Bobby Rush's workshop on the FAST Act

On February 17, 2016, United States Congressman Bobby Rush held a workshop on transportation funding in the South Suburbs. The workshop, hosted by Orland Hills Village President Kyle Hastings, was attended by Odelson & Sterk Attorney Mary Ryan Norwell and many Mayors from Suburban Villages. The workshop provided information about the Federal Government's Fixing America's Surface Transportation Act (Fast Act) and how the South Suburban communities can benefit from its programs. 


Pictured below from left to right are: Mayor Frank Fleischer - Village of Mokena; Mayor Kyle Hastings - Village of Orland Hills; Mayor Dorothy Armstrong - Village of Dixmoor; Congressman Bobby Rush; Mayor David Webb - Village of Markham; Mayor Louis Presta - Village of Crestwood; Mayor Jim Holland - Village of Frankfort; Mayor Ronald Denson - Village of Calumet Park and Workshop Speaker.

FAST Act Workshop

February 16, 2016
Odelson & Sterk, Ltd., Village Attorneys in Chicago Ridge, authored the development agreement announced by Mayor Tokar and the Board of Trustees bringing a $15 million medical facility to the Village

The Village of Chicago Ridge has entered into a development agreement with a doctor’s group from Little Company of Mary and Palos Hospitals to build a two-story, $15 million oncology and sleep disorder center in the Village of Chicago Ridge.  Mayor Tokar and the Board were pleased to announce the development of the parcel of land located at 10604 Southwest Highway.

February 15, 2016
Save the Date!  09/23/16 Odelson & Sterk, Ltd. to co-host event at Hilton Chicago after 2016 IML Annual Conference
Mark your calendars for September 23, 2016 when Odelson & Sterk, Ltd. will co-host a meet-and-greet event for our municipal clients at the Hilton Chicago after the 2016 IML Annual Conference.  Check back soon for more details.

January 27, 2016
Referendum in Willow Springs to join Tri-State Fire Protection District

On January 27, 2016, Mike McGrath was successful in obtaining a court order to put the question of whether to join the Tri-State Fire Protection District on the march 15, 2016 ballot.  The residents of Willow Springs will decide whether to join the Fire Protection District or not.  Currently, the Village is served by Tri-State on a contractual basis.  The referendum, if successful, will allow the Village to permanently be a part of the District.


Congratulations to Mike, Mayor Alan Nowaczyk, and the Village of Willow Springs!

January 20, 2016
Burt Odelson and Claudia Castro present at WCMC Membership Meeting
At the West Central Municipal Conference meeting, Burt Odelson and Claudia Castro presented information concerning consolidation of 9-1-1 emergency systems and dispatch centers. With many municipalities facing consolidation due to the passage of recent legislation mandating same, Burt outlined the steps needed to complete the consolidation and discussed important factors to consider during the process to ensure compliance with the law.

Click Here for a copy of the materials distributed during the presentation, providing helpful hints and guidelines.

December 14, 2015

7th Circuit Court of Appeals affirms judgment in favor of municipality, police officers in civil rights case

Akbar v. Calumet City
7th Circuit Case No. 14-3610; District Court Case No. 10 CV 7993
Mike McGrath and Amy Zale successfully defended the City of Calumet City and two of its officers in a case involving claims of excessive force, conspiracy, failure to train and wrongful death. The Seventh Circuit affirmed summary judgment in favor of the defendants.


Click Here to read the decision in this important victory.

October 23, 2015

Orland Fire Protection District enters into historic CBA with firefighters

Successful negotiations between the OFPD and firefighters’ union were concluded resulting in the passage of a successor contract before the expiration of the current contract. Great strides were made between the bargaining teams, especially with respect to health insurance, and resulted in significant cost reductions for the District.