Metro-East News

This local mayor is under indictment. She also controls all the hiring and firing in Alorton.

Alorton Mayor Joann Reed
Alorton Mayor Joann Reed File photo

Trustees gave sole authority over hiring and firing in the village government to Mayor Joann Reed, who is under felony indictment for vote buying.

The trustee board voted 4-2 to relinquish its right under state law to vote on public employment and salaries.

“I think everyone has enough trust in me that I can make the decisions,” said Reed during the regular village board meeting of June 12, according to recordings of the session made by the two trustees who opposed the resolution: Gwen McCallum and Devione Kidd.

Reached by telephone on Tuesday, Reed hung up when a reporter identified himself.

“She’s the Queen Bee,” said Kidd, who complained along with McCallum that because they are not in Reed’s political camp they have been excluded from basic financial information about the village. That includes the salaries of hires made by Reed, such as her first cousin, and other expenditures, especially in the village’s Tax Increment Financing program.

“We can’t get anything,” said McCallum. “We don’t have any idea who gets paid what.”

McCallum is the wife of former Mayor Randy McCallum, who pleaded guilty in 2012 to federal felonies that include theft and attempting to distribute cocaine.

Reed, 59, was fired from her job as a records clerk for the St. Clair County Sheriff’s Department and removed as mayor after she pleaded guilty in 2013 to bringing contraband — a cellphone and fried chicken — to a relative who was being held on an assault charge in the village police department lockup.

Reed pleaded guilty to a felony, but under a provision of Illinois law her record was wiped clean. Reed completed required treatment and probation and the conviction was expunged, allowing her to successfully run for mayor a second time. But if she is convicted of another felony she could not hold office, according to state election laws. She currently faces a felony charge of vote-buying.

Trustees Malcolm Henderson Sr., and Leo Stewart Jr., have both asked a reporter not to contact them. Trustees Elesia Golliday-Brown and Ferlandas Smith could not be reached.

The resolution wasn’t read aloud, which had been a custom during previous administrations, according to Kidd and McCallum.

“They said, ‘We don’t need to hear that. We already read it,’” said McCallum. “They don’t want us to know anything.”

Both said no copy of the hiring-and-firing resolution was later made available.

According to a copy of the June meeting agenda, the resolution was titled, “Ordinance providing for the hiring, employment, supervision, discipline and termination of municipal employees.”

Kidd and McCallum said that during the regular village board meeting on July 17, Reed reduced the hours of longtime village employees, making their jobs part-time. She also canceled their vacations, according to Kidd and McCallum.

During that meeting, village administrator LaMar D. Gentry submitted a financial report that Kidd and McCallum were able to obtain copies. It stated that the village’s monthly income had dropped about $25,000 below an estimated $80,000 needed to pay salaries and operating costs. The village was in the red by about $8,000, Gentry’s report stated.

Gentry was convicted in 2006 in federal court of attempted income tax evasion. His financial consulting with Alorton was mentioned in a 15-page indictment. Gentry was sentenced to eight months imprisonment and three years of supervised release or parole. He could not be reached.

Asked whether Reed’s actions concerning part-time employment and canceling vacations could be seen as saving taxpayer funds, Kidd and McCallum said that any savings have been offset by adding jobs, including the positions of assistant to the mayor, director of public safety and assistant to the director of public safety.

George Pawlaczyk: 618-239-2625, @gapawlaczyk

Beth Hundsdorfer: 618-239-2570, @bhundsdorfer