Metro-East News

Was meeting cancellation a political move? Village officials disagree.

When the regularly scheduled village board meeting was canceled last Tuesday, critics called it suspicious, saying it was because Mayor Ann Rodgers was told she would not be allowed to veto a previous trustee vote to fire her paid consultant, Ray Coleman, because it was not on the agenda.

But Rodgers said that’s not true. She said she canceled the meeting because the village had just hosted a special meeting the night before and had accomplished a lot. Normally, there are committee meetings Mondays before the regular board meetings Tuesdays.

“It’s not ironic that there was no meeting. We actually covered a lot of ground in the special meeting,” Rodgers said.

Asked whether this was a political move as was suggested by others on the board and her opponent in the upcoming election, Village Clerk Rickie Thomas, Rodgers said, “Definitely not. The meeting was not canceled to stall any tactics they have involving Ray Coleman. We will have another meeting where they can do whatever they wish. That’s on them.”

Rodgers is facing Thomas in next Tuesday’s election as a write-in candidate.

The next regularly scheduled village board meeting will not be until after the April 4 election.

At the previous meeting, the board voted 4-2 to fire Coleman, saying he exerts too much control over government matters and that the village cannot afford his $60,000 salary.

Coleman has repeatedly denied that he controls what happens in village government and withholds key information from trustees. He said he earns his money and then some by helping guide the village through its financial problems.

Rodgers had pledged to veto that vote before the meeting was abruptly canceled. She previously had vetoed an earlier attempt to fire Coleman.

Thomas, the clerk, said Rodgers was informed that she could not exercise her veto power because she did not put it on the agenda 48 hours in advance. When asked about the veto she said she would be issuing with regards to the majority of the board voting in favor of terminating Coleman’s contract, Rodgers said she put her veto in writing Monday. She disagreed with Thomas that it had to be submitted 48 hours before the Tuesday meeting.

“This is not my first veto. If any of the board members visit the office they will see that I have (already) vetoed it.”

Thomas said he received a copy of a letter dated March 21 at 4:30 on March 20. The date that’s on the veto is the date she vetoed it. That’s too late according to the law, he said. And, with regards to the mayor not holding the regular board meeting, Thomas said, “The mayor is stalling, trying to give Ray Coleman more time to get more money out of the village, which has no money.

“For the past few years, we’ve spent a quarter of a million dollars on a consultant. We’ve paid for his trips and mileage. If the mayor couldn’t do the job, she shouldn’t have ran for office. The village cannot afford to spend $60,000 a year paying for his salary. The only consultant you need is your attorney,” Thomas said.

Thomas also criticized Rodgers for replacing Trustee Herod Hill as head of the Finance Committee after Hill asked for an investigation of the village TIF program, which is overseen by Coleman.

“Whoever comes against Mayor Rodgers, she tries to silence them by keeping them in the dark concerning village finances. It’s not political with Herod Hill because he is the trustee she appointed. He saw things that were improper and he did what an elected or public official should so and that’s to speak out. He saw improprieties with village finances and called for an investigation. He was just trying to do the right thing. Now he has been replaced,” Thomas said.

Rodgers said she did not replace Hill for questioning improprieties related to the village’s TIF program. “Trustee Hill did not want to make payroll, then he decided he would make payroll. Then, he sent out a group message days later after the March 13 meeting, that payroll was not on the agenda to be voted on so we cannot do any transfers, which would assist in the process of making payroll,” Rodgers said.

“He sent out a group text to the board members days later after the March 13th meeting that said transfers was not on the agenda op be voted on so we cannot do any transfers, which would assist in the process of making payroll,” Rodgers said. She said transfers was on the original agenda, but she said Thomas put up another agenda for him and his supporters and transfers was not on that agenda.

Thomas said the agenda he posted did not have transfers on it because “several of the trustees brought into question the transfers that her consultant Ray Coleman is making out of restricted accounts, Motor Fuel and TIF, into payroll accounts.”

She said, “Reviewing a prior 2009 business TIF contract to determine what funds was disbursed to that company should not stop the employees from earning and receiving their paycheck.”

She said she posted the original meeting agenda Friday before the meeting and bills, warrants, and transfers were on that agenda. But, Rodgers said Thomas posted a second agenda that was from him and Trustees Deb Moore, James Madkins, and Clyde “Stonewall” Jackson and Herod Hill, that did not contain bills, warrants and transfers. Trustee James Madkins said he believes Rodger’s decision to not hold the regularly scheduled board meeting was nothing but political.

Regarding the canceled meeting, Trustee James Madkins said, “I know it was political. We had no input to say whether we wanted to hold a meeting or not. She just did what she did.”

“This was a regularly scheduled monthly meeting for our citizens. It was not a special meeting or just a meeting for the mayor and the trustees. It was not right for her to do it this way. With the April 4 meeting so close, she’s rushing things and totally leaving the trustees out of it,” Madkins said.