Palos Park Mayor, Village Council Ordered To 'Cease and Desist'

PALOS PARK, IL — An attorney has sent a “cease and desist” letter to Mayor John Mahoney and other village council members, including current Commissioner Nicole Milovich-Walters, who is running for mayor in the April 4 consolidated election.

Attorney Burt Odelson representing Palos Park residents John and Grace Donovan, who are said to be calling the shots behind mayoral candidate Ronette Leal McCarthy’s campaign, alleges that Mahoney illegally used “the Village of Palos Park’s (the “Village”) property, name, corporate seal,” in a video endorsing Milovich-Walters for mayor.

While other members of the village council are running uncontested, Milovich-Walters and McCarthy are embroiled in a heated campaign, centered around the controversial Wu’s House parking lot expansion at 123rd Street and McCarthy Road.

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Mahoney’s video, posted on Facebook, includes an excerpt from the Dec. 15, 2022 plan commission meeting, which shows the Donovans confronting plan commissioners about the parking lot expansion at Wu’s House and the proposed removal of trees. The village council eventually approved a modified version of the plan at its February meeting.

The video appeared on Mahoney’s personal Facebook page. It begins with subtitles stating it is in response to the video posted by Ronette McCarthy for Mayor of Palos Park earlier this month. It then calls out the Donovans, who Mahoney says “proceed to insult and bully the business owner and the appearance of his restaurant.” The video includes several excerpts of the Donovans confronting the plan commission in the board meeting room during the December meeting. In it the Village of Palos Park logo can be seen on the wall and the village seal affixed to dais. While the video does not mention any endorsement of Milovich-Walters for mayor, Mahoney does endorse her as “the best choice, the only choice for Mayor of Palos Park.”

Find out what's happening in Paloswith free, real-time updates from Patch.

Odelson told Patch that the cease-and-desist order was filed Wednesday with the Illinois State Board of Elections. He said Mahoney’s video violates the use of village property and symbols for political purposes and is in violation of Illinois election statutes ILCS 5/9-25.1 and 5 ILCS 430/1-1.

“Your unauthorized and illegal use leads to the risk of misleading voters into believing the
communications are official and/or the Village supports (or opposes) a candidate’s election,” the letter states. “For example, it is not readily apparent that the video you posted is not from the Village itself and, instead, it seems as though it is an official communication from the Village of Palos Park and its Mayor’s office in opposition to one political candidate who is not currently holding office in the Village. Not only is this not true, but such a political “endorsement” is strictly prohibited by law. Conduct that attempts to misappropriate the Village’s likeness and
property for another Candidate’s perceived political benefit is not only unacceptable, but also

Odelson further stated in the cease-and-desist letter that it didn’t matter that the video was posted on Mahoney’s personal Facebook page, because “it is a doctored video with misappropriated pieces of Village-owned and Village-paid for portions, shared by the current Mayor. This is egregious conduct in flagrant violation of the law.”

The end of Mahoney’s video indicates that a “Part 2” is coming soon.

“It’s illegal,” Odelson said. “You can’t use village property to promote a person running for office.”

Mahoney said the cease-and-desist letter was “without merit.” He also accused McCarthy of starting a whisper campaign, telling other residents that the village council took envelopes from Wu’s after the village council approved the modified parking expansion plan in February.

“However, we will modify the video and take the village logo out of it to let residents know how Ronette is conducting this campaign,” the mayor said. “In a small town of 5,000 people, I’m saddened that someone would stoop to this level. It’s insane.”

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“It’s interesting how John and Grace [Donovan] are so interested in protecting the village trademark,” Mahoney added.

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