With the help of city administrators, Victor Wogen managed to parlay his seat on the DeKalb City Council into income approaching $60,000 of taxpayers’ money in 2008, about ten times more than his annual salary as representative of the Third Ward.
Third Ward Alderman Victor Wogen took his place on DeKalb’s City Council under a cloud of controversy in May 2007 and is still seated today. According to the Illinois Secretary of State’s online database, Wogen filed for LLC status in January 2008 under the name Masonry Works* and by June 2008 he was picking up masonry repair projects for the City of DeKalb following demolitions of downtown buildings. Wogen billed the city on at least six separate occasions and the invoice numbers –- 1, 2, 3, 3A, 4, and 9 — suggest he may have formed the company for the primary purpose of capturing work on downtown projects. DeKalb paid Masonry Works nearly $53,000 from its Tax Increment Financing (TIF) Fund for the six jobs.
Under the Radar
The alderman’s “side jobs” are not common knowledge because none were voted on by City Council. This is due to a DeKalb ordinance that allows the city manager to approve single expenditures of less than $20,000 without having to request Council approval in public meetings. It is not difficult to conclude that care was taken to keep at least one of these projects under the $20,000 threshold by breaking it up into smaller jobs. Repairs needed after the 231 E. Lincoln demolition were divided into three separate projects by using the addresses of the adjacent buildings as well, and thus were listed in the city’s check register as 229, 231 and 235.
Wogen duly recorded Masonry Works on his April, 2009 Statement of Economic Interests** as a company in which he held an ownership interest, and he abstained from at least one vote on a downtown project that his company pursued as a sub-contractor. However, he did not publicly disclose his financial interests before he voted to approve land acquisitions and demolitions that ended up benefiting him financially, nor did any city official disclose them at any time before or after his selection as City of DeKalb Vendor #3104.
Masonry Works, LLC, was involuntarily dissolved by the Secretary of State in July 2009.
*Masonry Works, LLC, must be distinguished from Masonry Works, Inc., which is a corporation in good standing with the State of Illinois.
**Municipal Statements of Economic Interest are filed annually with the DeKalb County Clerk.