Stookey Township resident Dan Weaver, who was previously banned from speaking during the township’s regular meetings by Supervisor David Bone, was allowed to address the board during its meeting Monday night.
Bone did not say anything during the meeting about why he changed course and allowed Weaver to speak. After the meeting, he declined to comment and quickly left the township hall.
Weaver, who has been critical of township operations, said he was, “very surprised” to hear Bone call out his name and permit him to address the board during the public participation section of the meeting.
“I was expecting him to not allow me to speak again,” Weaver said after the meeting.
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Bone banned Weaver from speaking before the board during the July and August meetings.
Weaver has said his right to speak was improperly withheld while Bone has said Weaver was banned from speaking because he has “harassed” township employees.
Weaver denied harassing township employees and Bone has not commented on the nature of the alleged harassment.
Bone previously said he would not allow Weaver to speak during upcoming meetings.
Don Craven, legal counsel for the Illinois Press Association, has said he doesn’t think state law allows a board to ban someone from speaking at upcoming meetings. Craven, who specializes in First Amendment cases, said he had never heard of this type of ban.
The Illinois Open Meetings Act requires public boards to allow people to speak during official meetings.
Bill Stone, a Stookey resident who has videotaped the board meetings, said he thought Bone allowed Weaver to speak because of the News-Democrat’s coverage of the issue.
Once Bone allowed Weaver to speak, Weaver unleashed a litany of complaints of township operations.
Weaver criticized the recent hiring of an employee to collect delinquent sewer bills. Supervisor David Bone defended hiring the employee.
“She’s done a fantastic job,” Bone said.
Weaver said after the meeting that he believes it would be more cost efficient for the township to contract with a collection agency to go after people who do not pay their sewer bills. Weaver said this type of a company would receive 20 percent of the amount collected.
Trustee Ryan Stookey reported that $22,000 was collected from delinquent accounts during August and 74 customers set up payment plans.
As of Monday, he said $3,200 had been collected in September in the township, which includes neighborhoods along the west side of Belleville.
Weaver also criticized the quality of road repairs performed by the township and the purchase of equipment that he deems unnecessary.
In a previous video statement to the News-Democrat, Weaver said the town clerk had reviewed the minutes of Stookey Township board meetings for 14 months and that the records showed that Weaver had not caused any problems during meetings.
However on Monday night, Town Clerk Les Greene told Weaver he was not the person who reviewed these records. Weaver apologized and said he meant to say Trustee Thomas W. Kroupa had reviewed the minutes.
“I made a mistake in personnel,” Weaver said. “It’s a very minor error.”
But Greene quickly replied and said the mistaken identity was not “minor to me.”
Several other residents spoke to the board about township issues, including whether the township could demolish two homes they considered to be a public nuisance.