East St. Louis leader drops the N-word over political hires
Township Supervisor Alvin Parks used the n-word during a public meeting to express his displeasure over the township board rejecting his choices for public jobs and approving their own.
After the vote, Supervisor Alvin Parks blurted out to about 50 people in attendance, “This is Amos and Andy nigger business.”
Parks later apologized publicly several times during the Thursday regular township board meeting, according to an audio tape of the meeting.
The comment in part referred to the former radio and 1950s television show “Amos ’n’ Andy,” which has been widely criticized by the NAACP and others who considered it demeaning to blacks.
Members of the audience and trustee board said they were offended.
“I dropped my head in shame. I was shocked at Alvin,” trustee Edith Moore said later. Moore led a fight against Parks over his now-abandoned efforts to hire his sister, Lauren Parks, as township operations manager for $40,000 per year and city Democratic boss Lonzo Greenwood as a consultant for $25,000.
“All the time I have known him I have never seen him act like that,” said Moore, a former East St. Louis community development director and city manager. She is facing a felony forgery charge in St. Clair County Court connected to the race for precinct committeeman. According to a copy of the official meeting audio recording obtained by the News-Democrat, Moore told Parks, “You ought to be shamed of yourself.”
In a written response to the BND, Parks said, “I said what you heard because I saw passage of one of the most reckless, destructive and fiscally irresponsible pieces of legislation that I have ever witnessed. Voting to hire individuals on top of individuals is something the township cannot afford to do. ... I apologized six times for my choice of language. I realize that our citizens and others have come to expect me to remain calm and professional, no matter what. I am sorry that I let them down. I do not apologize for the passion that I have for stamping out malfeasance that was put forth Thursday night.”
Residents were allowed to comment after the 3-1 vote during which Parks voted, “hell no,” and three trustees voted in favor: Moore, Randolph Scott and Willie Rico Moore. Trustee Troy Mosley did not attend.
“I have never seen a public official blow up like that,” one woman on the tape said to Parks. “There is too much personal vendetta in here. It’s sad. It really is. I have never seen a supervisor act the way you do.”
Another woman referred to Parks’ statement during the public session that he had walked off the board and would not vote, only to stand up a few minutes later and shout “I’m back” when the hiring vote roll call was about to be taken.
“I felt disrespected. Mr. Parks, you walked out on us,” she said.
Stan McDougler, a well-known volunteer who uses his own money to drive senior citizens to appointments in the township, said angrily to Parks, “You’re moving too fast. You don’t want to listen.” And referring to Parks’ well-publicized efforts to hire his sister and Greenwood, McDougler said, “You don’t have any (job) applications for us.”
I dropped my head in shame. I was shocked at Alvin. ... All the time I have known him I have never seen him act like that.
Edith Moore, East St. Louis Township trustee
Later in the hallway, Moore said McDougler was in tears over what he said has been Parks’ refusal to approve expenses or even “hamburger money” for volunteers.
During a preceding and lengthy executive session closed to the public but also audio recorded, Parks sparred with the trustee board and Township Clerk Harry Hollingsworth over their plan to add five full-time and one part-time employees to the township’s existing five full-time employees. The trustees proposed that salaries ranging from $15,000 to $23,000 per year, with a $2,000 pay increase after successful completion of a 90-day probationary period.
The jobs would include human resources director and office workers.
Parks asked several times where the money would be coming from. “What is your revenue source?” he said.
Moore told the BND that the board has eliminated a $49,000-a-year “administrator” job pushed by former interim Supervisor Tommy Dancy and reduced longtime consultant George Laktzian’s salary by $8,000 to $25,000 a year. She said she was assured that with the $57,000 in savings the township could afford to make the hires that include Lakeisha N. Adams, who is also a member of the School District 189 Board of Education.
Two hirings recommended by Parks were rejected. They were Victoria Clay, also on the school board, and Stephanie Bush.
“I get nothing?” he asked.
“We do the hiring and he (Parks) carries out the wishes of the board,” Moore said during the executive session, referring to Parks.
During the executive session, talk came up about funds missing from a township bank certificate of deposit during the tenure of former supervisor Oliver Hamilton, who is in federal prison serving a five-year sentence for wire fraud after pleading guilty to stealing $40,000 in public funds through the improper use of a township credit card.
The News-Democrat reported last year in a series of investigative stories that Hamilton’s use of the card over four years totaled $230,000 and included personal purchases for gasoline, food, building supplies and equipment, and gifts for friends and political allies.
The BND investigation showed that under Hamilton the trustee board was kept in the dark and only received credit card bill totals, and not what had been charged, and then only after the spending had occurred. Moore pushed a resolution in 2012 to limit the card to one and spending to $1,000 a month, but this was ignored, and two other cards were issued. Spending sometimes exceeded $10,000 a month.
“This place has been absolutely fleeced. Where did all the money go?” Parks said during the executive session.
The trustees and Parks said on the tape that the certificate of deposit should be around $2 million, although it had been much more originally.
But Parks said in a written response to the newspaper said that a consultant recently hired to find out about the bank deposit put the figure much lower.
“Both our finance person and I informed all in executive session that the amount is actually closer to $400,000,” Parks wrote.
“As for the (total) amount of money spent improperly or stolen, we still have not confirmed it. It’s bad. ... My work will be with the auditor and law enforcement,” he said.