Editorials

Watch what you say in Cahokia meetings

Police remove Trustee Jerry Nichols from the Cahokia Village Board meeting Tuesday night.
Police remove Trustee Jerry Nichols from the Cahokia Village Board meeting Tuesday night. Provided

Hey, Cahokia: Caseyville called and wants you to stop trying to take over the “Crazyville” franchise.

Last week, Cahokia Trustee Jerry Nichols wanted to know how Mayor Curtis McCall Jr. was funding a bunch of new hires. Nichols pointed out that village funds are thin, as is the case in most municipalities going without big chunks of their state funding.

“I just wanted to know where he was getting all this money to make these hires,” Nichols said. “He hired a finance person for $67,000 a year and hired himself an assistant at another $67,000. And he made several more hires of people at $30 an hour. We don’t have this money. I’m a member of the board. I’ve got a right to ask questions about how taxpayers’ money is being spent.”

McCall’s response was a near illiterate reading of the Illinois Open Meetings Act. He claimed Nichols couldn’t discuss personnel in an open meeting.

Wrong.

The law only states that the public body may go into closed session to discuss hiring, firing or personnel issues, but they can only act on the issues in open session. That’s a long way from mandating secrecy, and it seems Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan should spend some time in Cahokia bringing the elected leaders up to speed on the Open Meetings Act.

McCall’s lousy judgment then extended to using village police officers as his personal Gestapo to remove an elected official from a public meeting. You don’t get to kick people out of a meeting just because you don’t like what they are saying.

Unless you are in Cahokia.

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