Supervisor Alvin Parks’ latest effort to hire his sister at $40,000 per year and replace the staff of East St. Louis Township with his own people failed even though his proposal offered a job to the son of one trustee board member and two daughters of another.
The vote at Thursday’s special noontime meeting was 3-2, with Parks and Trustee Troy Mosley voting for it and Trustees Edith Moore, Scott Randolph and Willie Ricco Moore opposed.
The wording of the proposal alarmed Edith Moore, who said she interpreted it to mean that Parks was trying to take away the trustee board’s power to approve hiring and firing.
“If we had approved that it would have given him the authority that the state has given us to hire and fire,” she said.
Parks said of her concern, “I’m not even going to address that. It is not true.”
Asked if offering jobs to family members of trustees who would be voting might be considered unethical, Parks said, “They are not a part of the household. The hiring of these individuals would have been legal because they are qualified.”
He acknowledged that he was unable to review the personnel folders of the nine current employees to gauge their performance because the documents remain in the possession of the FBI following that agency’s extensive investigation of the township.
Trustee Willie Ricco Moore, whose two daughters were offered township driver’s jobs under the failed hiring proposal, said, “We don’t have any money. We need to find ways to cut.” He said he did not believe Parks’ hiring plan was an effort to take away power from the board.
As for efforts by Parks to hire his sister, Moore said, “I’m new to the board but I didn’t think it was going to be like kindergarten.”
The failed proposal included a $40,000 annual salary for Parks’ sister Lauren Parks, who worked as his executive assistant when he was mayor of East St. Louis. Her position was listed as “operations manager,” a job that former township supervisor Oliver Hamilton performed.
Hamilton, 63, is serving five years in a federal prison camp in Marion for wire fraud involving the theft of $40,000 in taxpayer money through the fraudulent use of a no-limit credit card. The News-Democrat reported last year in a series of articles that Hamilton actually spent $230,000.
Lauren Parks would also have received health insurance at $11,724 per year.
Hamilton pushed for the hiring of his sister, June Hamilton Dean, as a $33,000-a-year financial consultant. Hamilton Dean has resigned and faces a state forgery charge. She has pleaded not guilty.
Parks said recently that he suspects that as much as $600,000 may remain unaccounted for or is otherwise missing from the township. Audits are underway and a federal agent from the IRS attended Thursday’s meeting, taping the session and making notes.
The IRS agent returned to the township offices at 6755 State St. on Friday asking for Parks but was told he would not return until Wednesday, according to an employee. Alvin Parks said he talked briefly with the agent Thursday but did not speak about an investigation.
The rejected hiring plan included a $26,000 driver’s maintenance position for Trustee Scott Randolph’s son, Keith. It also included medical insurance at $11,724 per year. And Willie Ricco Moore’s daughters were offered jobs at about $9,000 a year each as drivers.
Randolph could not be reached for comment.
The plan also would have paid East St. Louis School District 189 board member Victoria Clay $30,000 a year as an “administrative/outreach” supervisor. The annual cost of her medical insurance was set at $7,491.
The total annual cost of employees’ salary and insurance, including elected officials and board trustees, was set at $408,805 and included Alvin Parks’ salary of $60,450. No medical insurance costs for Alvin Parks were listed.
“We’ll have to go back to the drawing board,” said Parks, who, at least for a time, said he will not try to replace the staff. He said also that while longtime township consultant George Laktzian’s name was not on the hiring proposal, he would like to hire East St. Louis Democratic political boss Lonzo Greenwood at $25,000 per year. But Greenwood’s name was also absent from the proposal. Parks declined to specify why.
Laktzian remains on the payroll at a $33,000 salary.
“I would love for him to be a part of the township’s future,” Parks said of Greenwood. “But for now we are going to go without consultants.”
It was unclear how this would affect Laktzian.
The township will be closed Monday due to Parks’ decision to give employees a day off. He said this day off will be made up by making a current holiday, Columbus Day, a work day.
“This is a day off the taxpayers have to pay for,” said Edith Moore. “He just closed it down because he will be on vacation.”