The village board voted 4-2 at their last meeting to hire seven new employees, but instead of setting their pay, they left that to Mayor Joann Reed who told them she would figure out the amount “later,” according to the two trustees who voted against the measure.
“We don’t know what they are going to be paid. And we can’t afford them anyway,” said Trustee Gwen McCallum, who said she opposed any hiring without first setting salaries.
Trustee Devion Kidd also voted no, and added that the village had as of April erased a budget deficit but the new hires would again put the village in the red financially.
“We cannot afford them,” he said.
Mayor Reed could not be reached and failed to respond to an earlier request for comment left at her residence. Two of the four trustees who voted to approve the hires were reached but did not comment.
Trustee Leo Stewart asked a reporter to call him in the evening when he was free to take a call. Later, he could not be reached. Trustee Malcolm Henderson told a reporter not to call him again at home or he would complain to village police.
And at the same meeting Monday, the board voted 5-1 — with McCallum the only “no” vote — to hire attorney Mark Scoggins, of Columbia, as village attorney at a rate of $2,000 a month.
Reed was removed from office in 2016 when she was prosecuted on a felony case involving bringing contraband into the village jail that resulted in probation, substance abuse treatment and Reed’s removal as mayor. Her attorney then was a lawyer from the office of St. Louis attorney N. Scott Rosenblum.
Reed won the mayor’s job again in April. Scoggins currently represents Reed on a pending felony vote fraud charge brought by the St. Clair County State’s Attorney’s office.
Scoggins, whose law firm contributed $8,000 to Reed’s second campaign for mayor, said his office conducted an analysis to determine whether serving as her lawyer on the criminal charge and the village at the same time represented a conflict, or possible violation of strict rules for lawyers against simultaneously representing clients with conflicting interests.
“We analyzed this and there is no inherent conflict,” Scoggins said. “If there is an inherent conflict between the mayor in a criminal case and the village overall, then we could not represent the village and we would withdraw.”
Scoggins added that the law firm contributes to the election campaigns of numerous candidates both statewide and nationally.
“The firm gives money to a lot of people and yes, we represent some of them, but not all of them,” he said.
According to McCallum, who took notes during the board meeting, and to Kidd; the board approved the following hires:
▪ Public Safety Director Dave Clark, a former county deputy sheriff investigator
▪ Administrative assistant to the public safety director, no name provided
▪ Executive administrative assistant for Reed, Jane Scott
▪ Two code enforcement officers, Anthony LeFlore and Gemarion Douglas
▪ Two seasonal employees for the street department, Montez Brownlee and Marques Golliday
At the regular board meeting May 8, when Reed was sworn in as mayor, the first item of new business on the agenda was “approval of a new vehicle for the mayor’s office.” The new car would have been for Reed’s exclusive use but was withdrawn by her and did not come up at the special meeting Monday.
On Wednesday, BND reporters spotted Reed driving a 2013 Ford with municipal plate M 194 102, which is registered to the Village of Alorton, and was equipped with a police-type spotlight. She drove it to her home on Walnut St., but declined to comment.