Metro-East News

Village trustees wanted to fire paid consultant. The mayor said no.

Some Washington Park trustees want to fire Ray Coleman from his job as the mayor’s assistant, saying the village cannot afford his $60,000-a-year salary.
Some Washington Park trustees want to fire Ray Coleman from his job as the mayor’s assistant, saying the village cannot afford his $60,000-a-year salary. BND/Derik Holtmann

Several Washington Park village trustees are expected to try to fire village consultant Ray Coleman on Friday.

This comes four days after a similar attempt was thwarted by Washington Park Mayor Ann Rodgers. At Tuesday’s board meeting, trustee Carleen Tucker put a motion on the floor recommending that the village terminate Coleman’s $60,000-a-year contract. Her motion was seconded, but Rodgers would not allow a vote.

Several trustees left that meeting upset with the mayor and feeling their rights as trustees of the village were violated.

Rodgers argued that the motion needed to be on the meeting agenda before trustees could vote on it. Washington Park Village Clerk Rickie Thomas said it was unnecessary to have to call a special meeting.

Rogers appointed Coleman as her governmental affairs consultant when she took office, and Coleman was paid $40,000. Since then, his title has been extended to include mayor’s aide, and his salary increased to $60,000 a year. Tucker said it is more than the village can afford to pay. Tucker said she asked Coleman to take less, but he has refused. She maintains that the village cannot afford to pay $60,000 to someone who was not even elected. Agreeing with that claim are trustees Deb Moore, James Mackins and Clyde “Stonewall” Jackson.

Tucker has supported Rodgers’ agenda but said that has changed.

“So much stuff has been going on. They’ve (Coleman and Rodgers) been doing stuff that we didn’t know about,” Tucker said.

One example she cited was the village purchasing a police car that no one on the board knew about.

“Ray Coleman continues to do stuff to undermine the people on the board. We are kept in the dark about a lot of things. He has to go. That’s a $60,000-a-year job. He’s not doing the job he is alleging he is doing. And, he thinks he runs the trustees. He has too much power. We shouldn’t have to listen to him tell us how to do our jobs.”

Rodgers could not be reached for comment. Coleman said the move to fire him is politically motivated.

“He’s her consultant, TIF director, administrative aide. He’s running the village. He tells her everything to do,” said Tucker.

Thomas said he has wanted to see Coleman gone for a while now. He said Rodgers would not accept Tucker’s motion because Coleman is the person who tells her what to do.

Everything Coleman does for the village “is monetary,” Thomas said. He uses village funds to do his politicking in the village, using vendors to get campaign funds for the mayor, interfering with the licensing process and other things,” Thomas said.

Coleman denied the accusations. He said he couldn’t tell Rodgers what to do because he wasn’t even at the meeting.

Coleman said the mayor took the action she did because the “motion was out of order.” The item Tucker was pushing wasn’t on the agenda. He said he disagrees with those who say the village can’t afford to pay him due to constraints on the village.

“What bills are going unpaid? They never miss payroll. We’ve cleared up all of the judgments out of St. Clair County’s court system. They’re paying all of their bills. What is the village missing because of the $5,000 a month that I am being paid?” said Coleman.

He said the trustees should have known about the police car purchase. “They can’t blame me. It’s up to the finance chair and the treasurer to inform them of any financial transactions.” Coleman said all of the transactions came before the board. The things that Thomas and others are alleging he is not fulfilling, as it pertains to his contract, “has never been discussed with me,” Coleman said.

“It’s unfounded. I don’t make any decisions. I assist the mayor, trustees and other government officials as necessary.

Moore said Tuesday’s meeting turned into a “circus show.”

“I am upset that the mayor didn’t allow the motion to go through because Carleen Tucker is the chairman of the Personnel Committee. She read her report, and just as they have been doing in the past, she made a motion and got a second and was waiting for the roll-call vote on her recommendation. It didn’t happen because the mayor did not want Coleman’s contract to be terminated.”

Coleman said there is no city ordinance in place that declares that an item has to be on the agenda in order for a vote. Thomas also said that there is no ordinance. He said the votes should have been allowed, and he says that shows just how much Coleman controls Rodgers.

Thomas said he posted a notice calling for a special meeting on Friday to terminate Coleman’s contract. The meeting will be at 6 p.m. at Village Hall.

Carolyn P. Smith: 618-239-2503