Find a less political city attorney

May 18, 2013 

Before the Belleville city election, Mayor Mark Eckert met with our editorial board and insisted that his Good Government Party was separate from the St. Clair County Democratic Party.

It wasn't believable then, and it certainly isn't now that he wants to hire Democratic Party stalwart Garrett Hoerner as city attorney. The fact that Hoerner donated $1,000 to Eckert's re-election campaign is the least of it.

Hoerner is the heir apparent to Bob Sprague as the St. Clair County Democratic Party boss. Until last year, Sprague was the Belleville city attorney.

Hoerner would make $109,647 annually if appointed to the Belleville post; he already regularly feeds at the public trough.

His law firm's website lists the public bodies he represents: Southwestern Illinois College, East St. Louis School District 189, Central School District 104, Smithton School District 130, Belle Valley School District 119, Wood River-Hartford School District 15 and the St. Clair County Regional Office of Education. He's an assistant state's attorney for St. Clair County -- which gives him health insurance benefits in addition to a salary -- and he "handles certain legal matters for East St. Louis Township and East St. Louis Park District."

Wherever would he find the time to do Belleville's business?

The City Council is expected to vote Monday on his appointment. First, though, there needs to be a vigorous City Council debate about the merits.

Besides the concerns about Hoerner's many other obligations, city government is supposed to be nonpartisan. Hiring Hoerner as city attorney would take Belleville in the opposite direction, and that's not in the city's best interest.

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