Plenty of job opportunities for Cicero president’s wife, relatives
BY STEVE WARMBIR Staff Reporteremail@example.com October 2, 2011 6:24PM
Cicero town president Larry Dominick leaves the Dirksen Federal Building, 219 S. Dearborn, with wife Elizabeth at day's end Tuesday July 5, 2011. He is fighting a federal civil suit filed by plaintiff Merced Rojas. | Rich Hein~Sun-Times
Updated: November 15, 2011 9:01AM
It’s good to be married to Cicero Town President Larry Dominick.
At least if you’re his current wife, Elizabeth Dominick — and her family.
After Larry Dominick married Elizabeth, his third wife, in December 2006, she and at least eight of her family members started working for the Town of Cicero.
They’ve worked as town employees, a town vendor or board members — and received payments of more than $1.1 million, town records show.
Larry Dominick, who campaigned on a platform to end nepotism, hired Elizabeth, a nurse, to run the town health department. She makes more than $70,000 a year — a salary she has complained about publicly.
After the Dominicks got married, one of her sons got appointed to the Housing and Real Estate board, then later became a Town of Cicero firefighter. He made nearly $60,000 last year.
Another son got appointed to the town’s Identity Theft Board, and has spun tunes for town events as a DJ and worked at a town basketball camp. Those duties paid him more than $40,000.
One of her sisters was appointed to the town Board of Health, while another sister and nephew got hired to full-time positions. Two brothers got town jobs, too, with one of them making more than $80,000 last year, town rec-ords show.
Then there’s her nephew, Joseph M. Terrana, a convicted thief who was hired as a town garbage man in 2007, which paid him more than $30,000 a year, just months after Larry Dominick became his uncle by marriage.
Terrana was forced out of the town job in 2009, after the town’s inspector general’s office began investigating him.
“I told him fire or quit, so he wound up quitting,” Larry Dominick said in a court deposition. The town would not provide any details on why Terrana was forced from his job.
Terrana was suspended, though, shortly after Larry Dominick issued a town memo to the payroll and human resources departments stating that he never authorized any overtime or additional pay to Terrana, even though Dominick’s name had been invoked to do so. The town initially refused to release the memo, until the Illinois Attorney General ruled it had no legal right to keep it from the public.
Terrana used Larry Dominick as a reference for another job, as a janitor for the Cicero and Berwyn high school district, but got fired in early 2010 after he tested positive for having five illegal substances in his system, school records show.
Unemployed, Terrana decided to try his luck again with the Town of Cicero.
The town hired him back in January this year, as a part-time driver at $12 an hour.
Town Spokesman Ray Hanania said Terrana was being given a second chance and would be judged on his performance.
Terrana was hired back even though he failed to fill out both of his town job applications accurately.
On his first job application with the town in 2007, Terrana didn’t mention he had been convicted of three crimes, including two misdemeanor theft convictions, even though the town’s application asked him to list all criminal convictions, town records show.
On his second job application with the town in late 2010, Terrana mentioned one of the convictions, but failed to disclose that he had worked at Morton High School District 201, much less that he had been fired from the job.
The town’s employment application notes any omission or false statement is “sufficient cause” to be fired.
As for Elizabeth Dominick, she has benefited from other aspects of her job.
Last year, the town ordered a 215-gallon aquarium, a custom stand and other items for more than $6,000 for the town’s health department that Elizabeth Dominick runs. Hanania said at least part of that cost was donated, but could provide no details.
“The fish tank is a decoration in a waiting room where many apprehensive children come often for health and dental exams,” Hanania said.
Another benefit: a concrete patio put in near the health department for about $3,000, where town employees, including Elizabeth Dominick, can barbecue in the summer.
“The patio area serves the entire community center building . . . ” Hanania wrote in an e-mail, noting it “is more often used by citizens/parents watching their kids play in courtyard than by employees of the town.”
Elizabeth Dominick initially requested an interview with a Sun-Times reporter then did not return a phone message to set a location for it.
Hanania blasted the Sun-Times for not covering the positive news of the Cicero health department.
“The fact that the town provides health services to its residents that are second to none is apparently meaningless to the Sun-Times,” he wrote in an e-mail. “It’s pathetic and sad that rather than use your newspaper to raise awareness to the needy families of Cicero that health services are available to them at little to no cost, the Sun-Times chooses to instead focus its resources on the construction of a patio that is used by the citizens and employees of the town.”
Elizabeth Dominick also has the use of one of two town American Express credit cards.
While some of her credit card expenses appear related to the town’s health department, others raise questions.
In June last year, for instance, Elizabeth Dominick used the town American Express card to spend $1,555.39 at a Best Buy, according to her credit-card bill. Despite repeated requests from the Sun-Times, the town produced no explanation for the charge.
Also, three of her American Express charges were made nearly 100 miles from Cicero, in the Rockford area, either on the weekend or holidays. The Dominicks have a vacation home near there.
In October last year, for instance, Elizabeth Dominick spent $138.56 at a Target in Machesney Park, on a Sunday.
When asked about that purchase, Hanania said Dominick uses the card “when it is convenient and when she needs to purchase items for the health department. All her expenditures go to the board for approval.”