By Christina Chapman
Former Morris Alderman Brian Feeney's charge of driving under the influence is unfortunate, but unrelated to his past business with the city, said Mayor Richard Kopczick.
Feeney, 50, of 804 North St., was charged with driving under the influence of alcohol July 30, after being pulled over by Illinois State Police at Pine Bluff and Winterbottom roads.
Police reports state Feeney crossed the center line and admitted to the trooper he had consumed alcohol. They list his blood alcohol level at .145.
Feeney also was charged with improper lane usage, driving an uninsured motor vehicle, and illegal transportation of alcohol.
Feeney served as alderman for about 16 years before he decided not to run for re-election in 2007. In 2008, when another Third Ward alderman stepped down, he was appointed to the position, but was voted out in 2009.
Feeney no longer serves on the council, nor holds any paid position with the city of Morris. He recently was assisting with negotiations between the city and Morris police officers on a new police contract, but he was not being paid.
If Feeney had received the DUI charge while sitting on the negotiations committee, Kopczick said it would have been discussed. But his time on the committee ended a few months ago, when it was decided to go to arbitration to settle the contract.
"Would it have been a negative impact? I don't know . . . You read about a lot more DUIs in the paper than rapists or murderers. Because of what he was, people have a vendetta against him," Kopczick said about rumors and misinformation that some individuals have circulated around the community regarding Feeney's arrest and the nature of his negotiator's role.
Feeney was the main alderman involved on contracts even before Kopczick was mayor. On the current council, Kopczick said, he doesn't have any aldermen who were as involved in negotiations as Feeney, so Feeney volunteered his time to assist with the current round of negotiations.
"That was 100 percent volunteer. When Brian was alderman, he was chair of the Finance Committee and was involved in all the contracts, from the first Public Works contract and every negotiation during my tenure as mayor," Kopczick said.
Negotiations have ended and the city and police union will be going to arbitration in September, Kopczick said.
The DUI charge against Feeney is currently a Class A misdemeanor and is punishable with 24 months probation, up to one year in jail and a $2,500 fine, said Sheldon Sobol, Grundy County State's Attorney.
Feeney, who declined to comment when contacted by the Morris Daily Herald Thursday, is due to appear in court at 9:30 a.m. Monday, Sept. 13.