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Wesley Township critic arrested

October 12, 2018

WILMINGTON — A Wilmington woman who frequently clashes with Wesley Township officials about open government and financial issues was arrested after a township board meeting Tuesday.

Cynthia Brzana was arrested on a misdemeanor charge of battery, according to Wilmington police. No details were available Wednesday afternoon, a police spokeswoman said.

At the township’s request, a police officer attended a few meetings this year to provide security. No officer was present during Tuesday’s meeting.

In a statement, township Trustee Kathleen Kennedy blamed Tuesday’s incident on a “small group” that “believes they are above the law and act like children.”

“It took Wilmington police to arrest one of the leaders with a battery charge. There are a lot of good people in Wesley Township, and that is who I serve,” she said in the statement.

Township Supervisor JoAnn Quigley said the incident was captured on video. She said she did not witness it.

“It’s just sad that any of this had to happen,” she said.

Brzana referred questions to her attorney, Rob Hanlon, who said he advised his client not to discuss the matter.

“We’ll do our talking in court. We’ll have a lot to talk about,” Hanlon said. “We won’t comment on the allegations or the incident or the numerous statements that have been made about her.”

In July, Brzana filed a public records request for a variety of documents from the township. But Clerk Sarah Norton informed her she was unable to handle the request until she returned to the office in a few weeks.

The state’s open records law, however, requires documents be produced in five business days, making no exception for absences.

The Edgar County Watchdogs, a Southern Illinois-based group, later followed up and asked for similar documents. But the group says it got no answer for nearly two months, so it sued the township to see the records.

Before the 2017 township election, Brzana tangled with then-Road Commissioner John Norton, who she contended illegally removed her street from the township road network. Norton is the father of the clerk, who took office in June.

In the summer, Brzana, represented by a suburban lawyer, filed a lawsuit in Will County against Kennedy, claiming the trustee slandered her and invaded her privacy.

According to the lawsuit, Kennedy warned people that Brzana was a “park harasser” and “pedophile.”

“(Kennedy’s) publication of the statements in a public park was wantonly conducted to infer that (Brzana) was prowling about public parks to engage children in sexual acts...,” the suit said.

The lawsuit said Kennedy’s statements were false and without any merit.

Kennedy didn’t return a call for comment about the lawsuit.

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