Cringe-Worthy Board Meeting
There are so many things wrong with what 60+ residents witnessed in last night's board meeting. There will be a fact check post coming, but before I go through the facts and non-facts that were shared last night, I must first deal with the horrible display of bullying and intimidation we witnessed.
Over the summer, when we watched the Board President and CAO/Finance Director/Budget Officer attempt to humiliate the Clerk regarding her composition of the minutes, there were comments that we just saw proof of the harassment and environment that the staff was complaining about. Last night, we saw this escalate quickly far beyond humiliation and bullying to manipulative drama worthy of the worst reality TV dramas.
In what is obviously a pre-planned attack on Jan, the longest serving and lowest paid clerk in McHenry County, our clerk for 19 years -- Phil read from prepared statements in an effort to take a straw poll on attempting to remove her from her position. Why? What could she have possibly done that warranted that? Mr. Berman says that she "shredded election documents" -- this is untrue. She shredded a receipt for the nomination papers that is an internal tracking form, when Trustee Eddy re-filed the SAME paperwork that she filed earlier that day. When it was pointed out that Jan didn't shred election documents, he's going after her for "giving one candidate's nomination paperwork to another candidate."
Um, if Mr. Berman is so outraged with that then why is he not outraged at Phil's removal from Village Hall TWO nomination packets? You see there is absolutely NO issue with the clerk letting someone see the nominating packets -- you don't need to FOIA them, you merely need to go to Village Hall and ask (hopefully politely) and the clerk will hand you the packets and stand there while you review them. But Phil didn't stand there and review them, he took them from her and WALKED OUT OF THE BUILDING. What exactly was a grandmother of three supposed to do, chase Phil into the parking lot and tackle him to prevent him leaving with the packets?
If you want to hold Jan accountable for any errors she might have made in the process, you must also be willing to hold Phil accountable for his. But since there is no accountability on Phil's part for his wrongdoing of removing the election documents from Village Hall, I doubt that there is any sense of justice or fairness with this board. No, this is a board trying to cling to their positions with desperation of someone looking for water in the desert. They do not care who they steamroll over, they do not care about the truth or what is right, they only care that they win in order to continue whatever it is that they'd prefer you not know about.
Jan is the last employee in Village Hall (excluding police) that predates our current CAO/Finance Director/Budget Officer and any sitting board member. She is charged with keeping the records of our village. While Jan still currently holds her position, if this farce is allowed to continue, our administration will have systematically purged our village of every legacy bit of knowledge. We are in the middle of an accounting software conversion that has the potential of changing the details of all of the money in the village -- and legacy details could be lost. Now, the administration is targeting our records -- they proved in this meeting that they are not above attempting to revise history to say things that did not happen. Do we think our records are safe in light of all this drama?
Rules are not biased. Rules don't play favorites. Rules don't apply to one group and not to another group of people. Last night, I heard claims of anarchy when Trustee Odom tried to speak out -- but anarchy is when there are no common rules, essentially the idea that everyone does what they think is right without regard to any sort of common code. What we witnessed was political theater, a drama designed to humiliate a person whom this board feels isn't loyal to them. It was designed to threaten every resident who speaks out against this tyranny. And Phil, the leader of this bunch, sat back with a smirking grin and allowed that. This is his idea of 'leadership;' this is his idea of a 'better Lakewood;' he is concerned about keeping his power and influence that he would attempt to crush a resident and an employee. He's ok with our village board meetings looking more like the Jerry Springer Show than the respectful business meeting it should be.