As of Dec. 21, Nicolosi & Associates will no longer represent the Village of Roscoe.
Village President Ward Sterett said he terminated the firms services because of conflict of interest.
Paul Nicolosi said his firm resigned because former Nicolosi & Associates partner and Roscoe Village Attorney David Kurlinkus was leaving the firm to start his own practice, and no conflict of interest exists.
Nicolosi & Associates represents Rockton, Loves Park, Caledonia, Rochelle and, in partnership with Chicago-based urban planning firm Camiros, Ltd., has obtained the $335,000 contract with Winnebago County for its Land Use Plan and rewrite of zoning ordinances.
According to the Nicolosi & Associates Web site, its affiliated companies are: The Buckley Companies, LLC, Buckley Architects, Buckley Capital, Buckley Construction, Buckley Homes, Buckley Land Planners, Buckley Real Estate Brokerage and Buckley Title Services.
Theres always been a conflicted interest from the beginning with their representing Rockton and Roscoe, said Sterett.
We did not have a conflict up there, said Paul Nicolosi. As a matter of law, we did not have a conflict. That was verified by outside counsel, [Chicagos] Ancel and Glink, [Diamond, Bush, DiCianni & Rolek, P.C., the firm that wrote the Illinois Municipal Code].
Sterett notified the firm that their representation of the Village of Roscoe was terminated last week, subject to the vote of the Village of Roscoe board this Thursday, Dec. 21.
It will be unanimous, Sterett said. Technically, they wont represent the Village as of Thursday night, when the board votes, and they cant bill us anymore. We will also be hiring David Kurlinkus as the independent village attorney. He no longer works for their firm, which is a little overwhelming for him at the moment.
Kurlinkus, who is also the president of the Hononegah Community High School District Board of Education, was Nicolosi & Associates lawyer for the village for three years.
In a letter dated Dec. 13, Nicolosi wrote:
As you may be aware, over the last few years our partner Dave Kurlinkus has been interested in opening a law office in Roscoe. His interest has become more concrete over the last few months, and earlier this week he informed us that he will be leaving the firm to open his own office effective January 1st, 2007. It is with both great sadness and joy that we have accepted Daves resignation.
Since Dave is the attorney in our firm that has done essentially all of Roscoes legal work, we have decided that it would be best if we resigned from our position as Roscoes Village attorney effective January 15th, 2007. I know that Dave hopes to be considered for continued representation of the Village in his new practice. We will work with you and the Village to help transition the work and files we are working on as you direct.
Finally, I want to take this opportunity to express our entire firms gratitude in having the honor to serve you and the Village over the last several years.
Paul S. Nicolosi
In a letter dated Dec. 15, Nicolosi wrote:
Please be advised that I am in receipt of your letter as of todays date. I am not exactly sure what to make of it. I am supposing that you are attempting to make our resignation effective immediately. While I have no quarrel with your desire to do so, until you receive approval from the full Village Board, we cannot as a matter of law stop acting as Roscoes counsel. If you would like to move the effective date up, I would suggest that you obtain the consent of the Board at this Thursdays Board Meeting.
I would caution you, however, not to act hastily in this matter as there are a number of files that will need proper transitioning in order to protect the Villages interest. This is specifically why we gave the Village 30 days time. It is both our goal and ethical obligation to continue protecting the Villages interest until the Board approves our resignation.
As always, your communications with our firm should be through our partner Dave Kurlinkus. Again, thank you for the opportunity to serve you and the Village over the last 3-plus years.
Paul S. Nicolosi
cc: Village Trustees
In a letter dated Dec. 19, Sterett replied:
Dear Mr. Nicolosi:
In light of the increasing number of conflict of interest issues your firm has encountered in representing the Village of Roscoe and in response to your firms stated desire to not continue its representation of the Village long term, I have decided that it is in the best interests of the Village to remove Nicolosi & Associates as Village Attorney. Accordingly, let this letter serve as notice of Nicolosi & Associates removal as Village Attorney for the Village of Roscoe effective immediately.
Please contact me on my cell phone … to make arrangements for the transition of your Village of Roscoe files from your office and if you have any questions.
They were quitting, but they wanted it on their terms, but what was the point? We fired them before they could quit, said Sterett.
As to the upcoming board vote, It will be unanimous as far as I am concerned, said Village of Roscoe Board member Steve Ueck. We did discuss it in executive session or a committee meeting, and the whole group was pretty much in agreement. I think they decided to terminate us early in 2007, and I see no reason to keep them on for another three or four weeks.
Sterett said real or perceived conflict of interests over the RBR Trucking property annexation by Rockton and other potential border disputes with Rockton caused most of the problems.
He also asserted Rockton Trustee Scott Wallace pressed Rockton Mayor Dale Adams to have Nicolosi resign as Roscoes law firm.
Wallace confirmed he had pressed Adams on that issue, and said, Honestly, I told that to Paul personally. It has now come to a point where it would be nice to have representation from the firm that has our best interests at heart. Theyve been our firm for pushing eight years now. Up to the RBR annexation, I didnt have an issue. They handled all the issues between Rockton and Roscoe fairly. Not that they didnt handle the RBR issue fairly, they stepped away. That had been an agreement all along. Even on the Wal-Mart issue, they stepped away and did not divulge anything unfairly.
Basically, this is an issue where he had to pick Rockton or Roscoe. We need to have representation that will present our best interest when we approach an RBR-type issue, a boundary agreement. I told him [Nicolosi] you have a vested interest, a history, with Rockton. Theyve been with us that long. They know the ins and outs, the history of Rockton; versus a temporary, hired law firm for a specific issue. Basically, I have no complaints about the job Nicolosi & Associates have done for Rockton, Wallace said.
Sterett agreed with that, and said: Then, I go into the Winnebago County land use meeting, and then I really see they are just involved in too many things. I am sure they [Nicolosi] are going to ignore those plans and interviews when they are doing their own economic developments. Ha! They have some sort of agreement with the county that they wont develop in the county for a certain time period. Thats a real problem. How is the county going to enforce that? How will the county know or not know what they [Nicolosi] are really doing?
The Nicolosi & Associates Web site states: Along with an affiliated development company, The Buckley Companies, and our outside consultants Camiros, Ltd., we stand apart from other law firms providing a similar service as we are uniquely positioned to understand the procedures and goals of land developers which allow us to better serve our local governmental clients and protect their policy objectives.
As to any conflict between Roscoe and Rockton, Nicolosi said: That did not a role in Dave leaving the firm…Attorney Kurlinkus has been talking about leaving the firm
for many years. It only made sense for Roscoe and for the firm in money and staff.
Sterett and Ueck believe in Kurlinkus ability to protect their policy objectives as well.
Kurlinkus called me and said, Pauls having this dilemma as to what to do, said Sterett. The reason Nicolosi & Associates got the job had nothing to do with Paul; it was because Ive known David Kurlinkus for 20 years and trust him implicitly. He did not want to give up being the village attorney of Roscoe. Hes president of the school board and he is devoted to this area. Hes a devout Catholic, and he is committed to helping create a better world. I can see that.
Throughout this whole situation, Paul has never spoken to me personally. We pay him over $100,000 a year to represent us. Youd think Id at least get a phone call. If there is no conflict of interest, theres no conflict of interest, then why all the hoopla? concluded Sterett.
As to the problems with Rockton, Ueck said: I did hear that, although I have no way to prove that. Nicolosi did decide to go with Rockton. Im very impressed with David Kurlinkus, and were looking forward to keeping him as village attorney, I believe.
Addressing his departure from the Nicolosi law firm and his being hired by Roscoe, Kurlinkus said: Its kind of what comes first, the chicken or the egg? I have been thinking of going out on my own. I have tremendous respect for both Rockton and Roscoe. I live in Roscoe. I do the majority of my work for Roscoe. The opportunity came up, and I could take a chance. Its gut check time for me. Its a big challenge, and Im glad Ward is giving me a chance to do this. Im very, very hopeful it all works out.
Sterett was upset that before he can pick up all the village files, Roscoe must pay all fees due Nicolosi & Associates, Theres no trust or respect.
Nicolosi expressed close to the same sentiments about The Rock River Times articles on his business and familys impact about the community, The general consensus would be, from many I have heard, its, unfortunately, that…you run stories on innuendo.
From the Dec. 20-26, 2006, issue