The Washington Park Village Board has voted to change the village clerk’s job from an elected position to an appointed position.
Mayor Angie Rodgers introduced the proposal at the board’s meeting Tuesday, saying, “We have a resolution making the village clerk an appointed position.” There was then a motion put on the floor by Trustee Willie “Big Mac” McIntosh, followed with a second from Trustee Carleen Tucker. Trustee Ferris Williams and James Madkins voted “no.” McIntosh, his daughter Trustee Carolyn Williams, Trustee Yolanda Clark and Tucker voted “yes.”
The action will take effect after village clerk Ricky Thomas finishes serving his current term, which expires in 2017.
Thomas was elected village clerk in September 2010. Initially, he was affiliated with the current administration, but it appears that Thomas has lost favor with them.
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Rodgers told an audience at Tuesday night’s village board meeting that she has nothing against the clerk — he simply doesn’t do a good job, she said.
Rodgers told those who attended the meeting that the law was on her side. She said if the village has fewer than 5,000 people, the governing body can choose to have the clerk’s position appointed.
“When you elect trustees, you give them certain rights to represent you,” Rodgers said.
Rodgers said with the clerk position being an elected position, she has no authority to push him to do his job. She said someone from St. Clair County called her recently about some paperwork that was needed from the village, which Thomas did not submit on time.
“In October, St. Clair County put Washington Park elected officials on notice that they had to have their economic interest statements done in October 2014. They were not done. They gave the clerk until February 2015. And the information was still not there,” Rodgers said.
She added that there have been other examples of the clerk not getting paperwork done on time.
Thomas said the real reason Rodgers’ administration made the move is because “the clerk’s job is the only job that is not being controlled by the mayor and Ray Coleman. They want to control the clerk’s office. I won’t give it to them. That’s why they want the clerk appointed.”
Thomas said his pay is only $975 per month. He said the board wants him out because he keeps an eye on expenditures. “They want the clerk out because I am a watchdog for the village’s money,” he said.
Rodgers said she and board members have done nothing wrong.
Thomas said Rodgers used taxpayer money to buy some mattresses. “You can’t use taxpayers’ money to buy mattresses,” Thomas said. The check was for $400, and Thomas said the only explanation in the check’s memo is that mattresses were delivered from a hotel company. He said he did not know what hotel company delivered the mattresses.
Rodgers said the money was used for the delivery of mattresses, desks, chairs, lamps and other items that were donated by a St. Louis hotel. The items have been distributed to needy residents. She said the hotel offered to donate the items, and the village simply needed a way to pick them up.
Rodgers said she’s not trying to run the clerk’s office, but it’s her responsibility to make sure village operations are run efficiently.
Tommy Johnson, a resident, told Rodgers that the clerk’s position is elected, and then he asked: “Wouldn’t that require require a citizen vote to make it an appointed position? You’re making decisions for the citizens. You’re making decisions you think are right. You’re making decisions without consulting the people.”