The Mapleton Village board meeting last night was expected to address recent racial comments by a trustee. Instead, it brought to light government dysfunction that resulted in six resignations and one impromptu swearing-in.
As if that weren’t enough, Peoria Public Radio’s Tanya Koonce reports the board also issued a no confidence vote in first-term mayor Carl Bishop.
Tuesday night the board accepted the resignations of two village employees, a trustee, the treasurer, the village attorney and before the meeting was over -- the clerk.
Trustee Mike Beecham says, “Since we’ve been sworn in in April it has been nothing but turmoil and I think the consensus by the four to one vote of no confidence in the mayor showed that.”
Mapleton is a village of about 250 people. It recently made news for inflammatory comments Trustee Alice Dailey made back in May, during a Committee meeting. Dailey said something about having “too many colored people coming into town to play ball,” at Hollis Recreation Center. The offensive comment didn’t end there. She continued, laying out ways to divert people out of town with detour signs.
But the context of that committee discussion was not about ways to herd those visiting Mapleton out of town. Rather it was about having a main road closure and how to detour people to the rec center and getting them back out safely.
That information was seemingly left out when the mayor communicated with the Peoria NAACP. Pastor Marvin Hightower is the president of the Peoria Branch. He says they were told the racial comments would be addressed at Tuesday night’s meeting. “I just thought from this meeting that it was a safety issue, not a road project. But now that enters in, another facet of why that it needs to be addressed, so that everybody could have the whole story, that it could be addressed and that a resolution could come to the story.”
But in the meeting, Hightower and other members of the NAACP were told the board had not yet formally handled the matter. In fact, the board voted to take the Mayor’s requested agenda item condemning the comments into executive session at the end of the meeting.
Trustee Mike Beecham says he understands why the NAACP attended the meeting expecting answers. “At the last meeting it was stated that was going to be discussed through a committee and a resolve possibly was going to be expressed at this board meeting. But as we didn’t have the amount of trustees really appointed or the amount of trustees assigned to committees we couldn’t have committee meetings to look over the evidence or look over the matter.” Beecham says they’re not trying to dodge the conversation, rather, they’re just not able to function the way they should.
In June, Mayor Bishop asked for the resignation of three of the board trustees. Trustee Mark Brining says the most recent resignation of a trustee and the unfilled position make their day-to-day operations difficult.
“Right now we can’t even pay bills because we don’t even have a trustee. We have just made an agreement with the treasurer that quit that she would help us get the bills paid but we’re going to have another 30-days and then we’re going to have find somebody have to be getting somebody in that position.” Brining says the board and village are in a tangled up mess.
This may be a time a public body could most benefit from having legal counsel. But trustee Beecham says that’s yet another area that’s taken a hit. “The lawyer’s resignation letter, you know, kind of stated because of circumstances that are coming forward through these meetings that he doesn’t feel comfortable being the representative of this village.”
Amid the six resignations the Mapleton Village board of trustees accepted during the regular monthly meeting, the body also restored one position. Liz Rench was one of the trustees the mayor asked to resign. But her resignation was rescinded and the village clerk administered the oath -- all in the same meeting.
The no confidence vote in Mayor Carl Bishop is largely symbolic. But it may best serve to inform the Mapleton community of the board of trustees concerns.