Levitt addresses perception concern

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Friday, September 25, 2009
— The 9-year-old son of Janesville’s city manager will play hockey in Rockford, Ill., in part to avoid perceptions of bias as the city makes difficult decisions about the future of the city ice rink.

Eric Levitt started as city manager in December. Almost immediately, the ice arena became an issue when a Junior A hockey team asked to make the arena its home but wanted $200,000 in modifications to do so. Now, the council must decide whether to spend millions to renovate the aging arena or build anew.

Levitt’s son played hockey in Arizona and began playing with the Janesville Youth Hockey Club when the family moved here.

Levitt said his family’s involvement in the sport here is not legally a conflict of interest. But even working with the ice arena user groups could be complicated by the perception that he was playing favorites, Levitt said.

One resident called the Gazette in February and accused council members of voting favorably on ice arena issues just because the new city manager is a “hockey person.”

Levitt said he wants people to believe they’ve been treated fairly and that decisions are made with no bias. He said residents might have wondered whether his family would benefit from any decision or recommendation related to the ice arena.

“We wanted to avoid that perception,” Levitt said.

Levitt also doesn’t want the fallout from any decision or recommendation to impact his children or wife.

Hockey has always been a pleasurable outlet for his family, something not related to his work, Levitt said. That separation has not been possible here.

Levitt said his son likes the kids here, but many issues were creating stress for the family.

The family struggled with the decision for several months but now that it has been made believes it was the right one, Levitt said.

Last updated: 11:18 am Thursday, December 13, 2012

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