Column: Mayor Henyard Attempts to Shut Down Board Meeting (Dolton, IL) – You never know what you will experience at a Village of Dolton Board Meeting. From being subject to security scanners, harassed by fake Homeland Security officers, being forced to recognize strict early COVID protocols (when it is not recognized anywhere else in the Southland) to not being able to get answers to questions at Citizens Address.
Needless to say, Monday’s Meeting Of The Board of Trustees: Committee Of The Whole Meeting was quite the spectacle. Marred by flagrant insults, disrespect, and an attempt to minimize a potential safety hazard concern regarding a land development project on 142nd & Cottage Grove.
The meeting began with the General Announcement segment. Trustee Edward Steave raised what many community residents and stakeholders thought to be a reasonable and responsible question of care and concern.
He asked to be, “filled in on the work that is going on over there…,” at 142nd & Cottage Grove and if the project was being conducted in a manner that is Environmental Protection Agency approved because it had previously been deemed a public safety hazard by the governmental agency. In his concern for resident safety and need for assurance that proper safety measures were being taken, he added, “…I know that no one wants to intentionally hurt people, I live right around the corner and I know if that dust is kicked up it could kick up a lot of things…I don’t want us in haste to try to make something happen that could kick up dirt that can infect or get other residents sick…”
Environmental Protection Agency
According to Trustee Steave, the Environmental Protection Agency shut the project down several days ago pending soil sample analysis for asbestos. The trustee posed the question to both Administrator Keith Freeman, and Mayor Henyard. Henyard took it upon herself to answer. Her response was terse, defensive, and accusatory.
She stated, “It’s amazing that anything I try to put forward here in the Village of Dolton such as that project on 142nd we have several different developers looking to come in to develop the land there, I announced that we have someone that’s willing to come last board meeting, I guess as always you guys called the EPA and the EPA did come out to that site and they did do dirt samples…the EPA told us to clear up that lot…and that is exactly what we’ve been doing…I guess you guys wanted to stop our individual from coming into the village because someone called…” Henyard eluded that someone from the Board called the EPA for the project to come to a temporary halt.
Political Intent of EPA?
In a painstaking effort to make clear Trustee Steave said that there aren’t any political hit jobs taking place and that the EPA official has no political interest in the matter. He further clarified that it was a concerned resident who called the EPA. He further emphasized that while the Board and residents would like to see something done in the area sometimes, “in doing something in haste you can do things wrong,” and asked whether the crew working on the project is EPA certified.
Trustee Steave stated the representative from the EPA advised him that the project was not being performed correctly and that was the reason for the shutdown.
Henyard denied that the work is being done incorrectly and then deferred to Freeman for further input to allay residents’ fears of their health being in jeopardy, “based off of what trustees up here alleging.” Freeman stated, “there was no asbestos, no contaminated soil…,” Freeman continued, “Somebody just made an anonymous tip, the EPA came and did what they were supposed to do and immediately shut the job down…” Freeman noted that the crew who came out to do the work are properly trained and certified by the EPA.
At this point, the Village awaits an assessment from the EPA as to whether the work will continue or not.
Next up was Trustee Belcher. Trustee Belcher and Mayor Henyard have been at odds for quite some time. Henyard has hurled accusations and insults aimed at Belcher in what appears to be an attempt to rebuff accountability and allegations of fiscal irresponsibility. Henyard has yet to show any proof to substantiate any of her allegations, however.
On the other hand, Trustee Belcher has produced receipt after receipt reflecting the alleged malfeasance of the embattled Mayor. Tonight, she questioned the Mayor and the Village Administrator as to why several items she requested to be placed on the agenda were excluded. The mayor’s response was less than transparent and responsive to the trustee’s question. Henyard stated, “You two spoke about your items and from my understanding, you guys cleared that up.”
Motion to Suspend
Belcher immediately denied it being cleared up, thus her reason for requesting an explanation. Henyard showed little to no regard for the importance and seriousness of the trustee’s question and true to form attempted to blow off the trustee’s request for an explanation stating, “Well you asked me I gave you an answer–that’s my response to your question.”
Trustee Belcher immediately motioned to suspend the rules of the meeting to get her agenda items added to the agenda. Her motion was subsequently followed by a second from Trustee Steave.
Rather than honoring the motion to suspend the rules which were completely in keeping with Robert’s Rules of Order, Henyard began to inappropriately assess the trustee’s actions as game-playing and grandstanding, two of the favorite adjectives she employs when her administration is being less than transparent and being held accountable.
She then attempted to move forward with the agenda and bypass the motion altogether but the trustees stood their ground and refused to move forward without the action to suspend the rules officially recognized and documented for the record.
In her rant, Henyard went so far as to claim the motion to suspend rules somehow slowed progress, that they weren’t going to be there [meeting] all night. It appears as though Henyard suffered from some sort of memory lapse. She was 20 minutes late to the meeting and didn’t have the courtesy to extend an apology once the meeting commenced.
She suggested that “everybody can go home and we can cancel the meeting because we are not going to go back and forth tonight…” She was reminded that the village form of government is not a monarchy, nor a dictatorship.
Mayor Henyard attempted to again avoid calling the roll but trustees were animate about being sure a roll call was taken. Clerk Key then took the roll. As the roll is being taken Henyard acted as though she was a victim by stating, “No one wants to listen, see this is the disrespect that I get as the mayor, that’s a shame, but go ahead, we will play yawl little game.’” All trustees voted to proceed with the suspension of the rules except Andrew Holmes who has been a staunch ally of the mayor.
Trustee Belcher then began to list the items that were excluded from the agenda, those being the following:
– Discussion of the ARPA funds (requesting clarity on how those funds have been allocated);
– Status of corporate counsel (Ancel & Glink). Corporate counsel has not been present since April;
– Status of Village Administrator as to whether he is an employee or a contractor;
Mayor Henyard refused to discuss those items.
Now get this, that was just during the announcement phase of the meeting, there’s more. The meeting agenda consisted of the following items:
- Discussion of an Ordinance Authorizing and Approving the Disposal of Obsolete Personal Property. – Mayor Henyard (approved by the Board)
- Discussion of Resolution 22-________, 300 West Sibley Redevelopment Agreement – Mayor Henyard (not approved)
During this discussion, Trustee Tammie Brown, in an effort to provide the Board with feedback on the proposed “Restaurant Row” and concert entertainment facility, informed the mayor that she polled residents in the area to see what it was they wanted to have there. The location’s previous tenants have a history of being unfriendly, irresponsible neighbors when it comes to property clean-up, parking, etc, as it invites other unwelcome behaviors, some even criminal.
Residents are very concerned about the return of such activity and according to Trustee Brown would rather see a big box grocery store in place. Further discussed was the cost of the mayor’s “vision” to have such establishments in the area.
Cart Before the Horse
Trustees are very concerned that the Mayor has a bad habit of putting the cart before the horse by not paying attention to detail and liability issues that may occur should the restaurants and entertainment facility not show a profit, thus leaving taxpayers holding the bag.
Social media participants were asking the question of why the mayor’s administration has been harassing entrepreneur DeAndre Rucker who is attempting to put a fine dining and entertainment facility in the heart of downtown Dolton. According to sources, he has been ticketed relentlessly for building permit violations even though his permits have been paid for and issued by the village.
Currently, Mr. Rucker is in court fighting the case. He has not requested any financial support from the village to assist him in his development, unlike the owners of the 300 W. Sibley property who are requesting what we understand to be $3.5 million to assist in the redevelopment process.
33.5 Million Dollar Jury Award
Though Mayor Henyard attempted to berate the trustees because of what she deems as their lack of cooperation with her vision for development in the area. It appears as though the trustees are demonstrating fiscal maturity and accountability in assuring that whatever goes into that location has more of a shot at winning than suffering a loss.
Trustees cited the fact that the village is on the hook for a 33.5 million dollar jury award resulting from a Dolton police-involved traffic incident that took the life of one young man while the other currently suffers from catastrophic injuries. As Henyard attempted to disparage the validity of Trustee Brown’s research, Brown quickly brought the argument to a close by revealing to the Board and audience what appeared to be a full large binder that compiled resident concerns and reports dating back to 1998 to 2015. Trustee Brown invited anyone with an interest in looking at it to do so.
- Discussion of Resolution 22-______, supporting a proposed Class 8 Classification for 707-719 East Sibley Blvd., Dolton – Mayor Henyard (not approved)
- Discussion of Resolution 22-_____, supporting Worker’s Rights – Mayor Henyard (approved)
- Discussion and changing of the multi units inspection fee – Trustee Norwood (approved)
While this item had moments of contention, it appeared as though Mayor Henyard was attempting to challenge the rationale of lowering the inspection fees as it was her opinion that the village would be losing revenue. After Trustee Norwood explained it multiple times and an adjustment was made as to whom would receive the adjustment in fees the mayor dropped the matter, not because she agreed. It appears that nothing the trustees would do this evening would soothe the mayor’s ire.
The Citizens Address portion of the meeting was highly charged with angry constituents who were very clear about their dissatisfaction with the mayor’s form of communication, name-calling, and accusations. They see her discourse as being routinely disrespectful, unprofessional, and wholly unacceptable.
As the segment continued, onlookers were in disbelief that the mayor sat back and refused to admonish her Executive Assistant, Carmen Carlisle, a convicted felon, for her disrespectful verbal assault toward residents in the audience. Carlisle, found guilty of passing bad checks, is the person that seniors call and rely on when things go awry, is this a person they can trust? She came to the podium and proudly communicated her support for the mayor. She even paraphrased some scripture from Romans 8:31.
However, that ole time religion appeared to disappear as fast as it came. What was so unexpected and highly improper was Carlisle’s referring to the seniors as “ignorant and disrespectful.” After a comment was made by an audience member she referred to them as, “ignorant old people.” And if that wasn’t enough, she stated to another resident, “you are a clown, look what you got on.”
After that display, many residents don’t feel they can trust Carmen Carlisle to be objective seeing that she is not among the base that puts elected officials in office in the Village of Dolton. It is safe to say that Ms. Carlisle has ruined her relationship with seniors as has Mayor Tiffany Henyard who was voted to be recalled on June 28th. I wondered after listening to that outrageous tirade if that is what Mayor Henyard and her Administrator permit in public, what do they allow when cameras aren’t rolling. It is alleged that the Village Administrator and Carlisle are dating.
Henyard also holds the seat of Township Supervisor which is also under the constituent’s microscope. There are questions about the legality of her appointment and co-mingling of Township and Dolton funds and resources. Henyard was in court on September 13th, 2022 to face a panel of 3 Appellate court judges in regards to the certification of the June 28th vote to remove her as mayor. Residents and the Board are waiting patiently for a ruling.
Column: Mayor Henyard Attempts to Shut Down Board Meeting