Dolton Resorts to Dueling Meetings to Keep Village Lights On (Dolton, IL) — Cracks in the Dolton village government are turning into sinkholes as its mayor and trustees held separate meetings for the second time Monday.
Mayor Tiffany Henyard and Trustee Andrew Holmes met in one Zoom meeting, with some village department heads present.
And a majority of the trustees: Kiana Belcher, Tammie Brown, Jason House, Brittney Norwood and Edward Steave met in another Zoom meeting, creating a quorum. House was voted mayor pro tem for the meeting.
Because her meeting did not have a quorum, Henyard quickly turned it into a town hall, which she opened with a statement.
“It’s a shame,” she said, “that board members are willing to stoop so low because of controlling. We’re elected to work for the people, whether we like each other or not. We have things that need to be done, bills that need to be paid.”
She asked the trustees to “stop doing what they’re doing because it’s hurting the residents.”
Henyard did not respond to a call asking about the village’s dueling board meetings.
During the trustees’ board meeting, Mike McGrath, legislative attorney for the village trustees, said that Monday “is the second time trustees have met in this non-conventional format, with the mayor not being present.”
He said trustees moved to this format after residents complained about their questions not being answered, or being deleted, during Zoom meetings; trustees’ microphones were being shut off during meetings; and items were not placed on the agenda.
McGrath said the problem started mid-2021 Henyard locked trustees out of the village hall when they called a special meeting to discuss the mayor’s policies. The trustees were forced to meet outside.
McGrath said he spoke with the Illinois attorney general about the mayor’s actions, but has not heard back from the attorney general, nor has he heard from the mayor. He assured attendees at the meeting that the trustees are not trying to take control from the mayor. McGrath said the mayor was invited to both meetings, but she did not accept.
“This could all be avoided if the mayor went back to in-person meetings,” McGrath said. He added that the trustees’ special meeting was lawful, and legal, because it had a quorum.
Trustee Belcher said after the meeting that “It’s sad that we have to have two meetings. I am in favor of going back to in-person meetings.”
Belcher said trustees haven’t seen bills for months, so they haven’t been able to pay the bills. She said the village is two months behind on its credit card bill and one month behind on corporate bills. She said the corporate bills could be in arrears by as much as $3 million. She said she told residents that what trustees are doing is legal and ethical, and to call the Illinois attorney general to voice their concerns about Henyard.
Trustee Steave added that employees have been hired without trustees’ knowledge nor consent.
House said he would follow up with the village engineer and other department heads to make sure important bills are being paid.
Trustee Norwood spoke about residents being blocked from the village’s social media by the mayor. She told residents that trustees are looking into the issue to make sure the open meetings act isn’t violated by the blocks.
In other business, the trustees revisited an October board directive motion about the mayor’s security detail, which said that if the mayor was in danger, a security detail would be assigned. The board had asked the mayor for details, reasons why she needs security, but never got an answer.
Steave said that Henyard’s security detail costs the village $1,200 a day in overtime, and a police officer quit in protest of the overtime stretching the village’s budget. Steave said more than $100,000 has been spent for the mayor’s security, even though it’s not needed.
A motion was passed to cut the security detail for the mayor.
The board also approved a recommendation to renew the village’s insurance and employee benefits package.
Dolton Resorts to Dueling Meetings to Keep Village Lights On