The Cahokia Village Board on Monday adopted resolutions that clear the way for more hiring and changes how citizens may address the board in public meetings.
As police officers stood nearby, checking people as they entered the meeting chambers, the board approved several resolutions during a special meeting at Village Hall.
Mayor Curtis McCall, Jr. said citizens will have to put their questions in writing and deliver them to the mayor’s office by noon the day prior to the board meetings. McCall said people also can email their questions. Recent meetings have been contentious, with a number of political factions in the village jockeying to be heard.
“I don’t think he can do that. I don’t know how he can stop people from asking questions. It’s just not right. I think it’s a violation of the Open Meetings Act. We’re doing some checking,” Trustee Jerry Nichols said.
McCall said the new rule was put in place to keep things respectable and allow the board to do the work the citizens who voted for the McCall team put them there to do. He said there is a small faction that wants to disrupt the meetings because they do not want change. “But, we promised to make Cahokia better and we are working towards that end,” he said.
Nichols was also upset that he just received the ordinances pertaining to the new hires just prior to the meeting and he didn’t have time to look it over before he was called upon to vote on it. He voted no on each one except the ordinance pertaining to the hiring of two police dispatchers.
McCall apologized to Nichols for the tardiness of the arrival of his packet. He told him that it would not happen again. And on any objection Nichols raised about any issue at the meeting, McCall would only say, “Your argument is noted. Your comments are so noted and thank you sir.”
Trustee Phyllis Pearson, a McCall supporter, told Nichols that board packets were late before under the former administration. She said it was not the first and wouldn’t be the last time this would happen. “So, get over it,” she said.
The board voted to approve a number of hirings, with Nichols the lone dissenting vote. Voting in favor were Pearson, Jeffery Radford, Rhonda Wofford, Gloria Ware and Melba Sanders.
The resolutions including appointing Centreville Police Chief Steve Brown to the police and fire board; to appoint St. Clair County Sheriff Richard Watson to the police and fire pension board; to hire Ralph Wofford as manager of the water and sewer department; to create a public works department, and to create offices for a commissioner and deputy commissioner of the department.
The hirings included:
▪ Ron Tampley was named commissioner of the public works department and will be paid $31 an hour.
▪ Del Thornton and Kevin Wiggins will be deputy commissioners and will earn $31 an hour.
▪ Treevon Tompkins was named director of a new parks department and will earn $29.50 an hour.
▪ A resolution was approved to create a recreation department and to appoint Drake Jackson as the director at $29.50 an hour.
▪ And, a resolution was approved to clear the way for McCall to hire Francella Jackson, who is currently employed in East St. Louis as a director of community programs, as his assistant at a salary of $32,00 an hour. Jackson had not accepted the position as of Monday. McCall said the resolution clears the way for him to hire Jackson if they can reach an agreement with her.
The board also approved a resolution that will allow the village clerk, Richard Duncan, to appoint additional deputy clerks. Nichols objected, saying Duncan hired his wife at $32,000 a year. “It’s not against the law, but it is nepotism,” Nichols said.
The board also amended an ordinance pertaining to overtime for police officers. Nichols said former Mayor Gary Cornwell eliminated one captain’s position and made the person in that position, Dave Lanman, who is now the assistant police chief, a lieutenant. Nichols argued that the board was clearing the way to bring that position back and pay a captain $40 an hour to go out on the street.
Nichols said he doesn’t know where the money is coming from to pay for all of the new hires. He said the village doesn’t have any money, and he accused McCall of paying back people for supporting him in the election.
“Some people are reluctant to change. I am listening to the voters who told me they want change. They said they want a unified Cahokia. They said they want to bring Cahokia back to life like it once was. I am listening to the citizens,” McCall said.
Contact reporter Carolyn P. Smith at 618-239-2503.