Revisions to be presented, voted on at February 17 meeting
by Melanie Jongsma
LANSING, Ill. (February 6, 2019) – “We’ve reached out to Sinclair Solutions, who has experience in running a venue and also in seeking sponsorships,” said Village Administrator Dan Podgorski at the February 5 Committee of the Whole meeting. He further explained that “Sinclair Solutions” is Dwight Welch, the former Mayor of Country Club Hills, which also has a concert venue comparable to Fox Pointe. Podgorski had provided the Trustees with a copy of a contract to review, and he was proposing that they vote to approve this contract at the February 17 meeting of the Board.
Podgorski suggested that Welch’s experience would benefit Lansing as the Village works to transform Fox Pointe into a premiere venue that brings visitors, entertainment, and revenue to town. He read the following items from the contract:
“The contract calls for Sinclair Solutions to have the exclusive right to create, provide, and sell all sponsorships for Fox Pointe….
“All payments by sponsors will be made out to the Village of Lansing.
“All in-kind sponsorships would also be delivered directly to the Village of Lansing.
“Sinclair Solutions would be paid 20% of all sponsorship proceeds, either monetary or in-kind within 10 days of the Village receiving the same.
“The Village in return would provide local business listings and contacts when requested.
“Final approval of all expenditures would be the responsibility of the Administration.”
Learning from Country Club Hills
When Podgorski opened the floor for questions, Trustee Maureen Grady-Perovich was the first to respond. “I’ve got a lot of questions,” she said. “I think 20 percent is a lot of money to be giving away to someone who worked on a venue that is reportedly still losing money in Country Club Hills.”
A quick Google search of Dwight Welch reveals a number of news reports from reputable organizations detailing a history of fiscal irresponsibility by the former mayor. Some reports include references to his management of the Country Club Hills venue, like the Chicago Tribune’s Daily Southtown 2016 article, which states: “The theater, just east of city hall at 4200 W. 183rd St., hasn’t hosted a performance since the 2013 season, shuttered after tallying multimillion-dollar losses in its first few years of operation.”
And in 2011 the Better Government Association referred to the Country Club Hills venue in a list of questionable spending practices by then-Mayor Welch: “Like the music venue, which is his pride and joy, its $7 million cost has now become a political tripwire for the mayor. The theatre is losing hundreds of thousands of dollars every year.” (“Country Club Hills’ Big-Spending Unabashed Mayor,” June 23, 2011)
At the meeting and in a follow-up conversation, Trustee Brian Hardy spoke in Welch’s defense. Hardy has met Welch several times and is impressed with his charisma and ideas and apparent connections. “He thinks big,” said Hardy. “He’s dynamic. He knows people.” Hardy suggested that Welch might be able to bring in five- or six-figure sponsorships from sources outside of Lansing—Budweiser, Miller Lite, and State Farm, for example.
Hardy said Welch had also intimated that he could bring bigger acts to Lansing’s Fox Pointe venue—names like Diana Ross and Buddy Guy, rather than relying only on local talent.
Asked about reports that the Country Club Hills venue has lost millions of dollars, Hardy said, “I don’t think you can blame those losses on Dwight.” Hardy believes Welch did his job, bringing in big names and big sponsors, and if people don’t come to the shows, that’s not the fault of the manager. Hardy believes Lansing can avoid the problems Country Club Hills experienced, even using the same fundraising manager they used. He wants to give Welch a chance.
“We’re not giving him an open checkbook,” assured Hardy. “I do not want him getting any money until he produces.”
“There’s no cost upfront to us,” Podgorski said at the meeting. “I’m comfortable recommending him as a Director of Sponsorships.”
Hardy had said at the meeting, “If he’s not doin’ his job, we can get rid of him.” But Grady-Perovich pointed out a clause that Podgorski had not read out loud: “…exclusive right to create, provide, and sell all sponsorships for Fox Pointe Theater owned by Village of Lansing, Illinois, for a five-year period starting with this contract approval.”
Village Attorney Matt Welch (no relation) assured Grady-Perovich that this was just sample language providing a guideline for the business terms. Attorney Welch has reached out to Dwight Welch and is working on a more detailed agreement.
“I’d like to see the real contract and where we’re going with it before I would venture to vote,” said Grady-Perovich.
Besides Hardy and Grady-Perovich, Trustee Tony DeLaurentis was the only other Board member to share his thoughts on the matter, and he also noted positive personal interactions with Welch.
The Trustees will have the opportunity to vote to revise, approve, or deny the extension of a contract to Welch at the February 19 Village Board meeting.
Residents who have questions about the forthcoming contract or other municipal matters are invited to contact their representatives directly:
- Email Mayor Patty Eidam, or call 708-895-7208
- Email Administrator Podgorski, or call 708-895-7202
- Email Trustee Tony Delaurentis, or call 708-832-4569
- Email Trustee Maureen Grady-Perovich, or call 708-832-4563
- Email Trustee Brian Hardy, or call 708-832-4564
- Email Trustee Mike Manno, or call 708-832-4566
- Email Trustee Mike Skrbina, or call 708-832-4568
- Email Trustee Jerry Zeldenrust, or call 708-832-4570
Village Board meetings and Committee of the Whole meetings take place at the Municipal Court Complex (the police station) at 2710 170th Street on the first and third Tuesdays of the month.