Thornton Township General Assistance Fund receives approval after 70-minute closed session

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Thornton Township is located at 333 E. 162nd Street, South Holland, Illinois. (Photo: Melanie Jongsma)
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Letter from State Attorney General’s office says Township did not properly notify public of personnel changes in March meetings

BY QUINTON R. ARTHUR

SOUTH HOLLAND, Ill. (August 19, 2022) – Thornton Township held its August board meeting on August 16, 2022. More than half of the meeting took place in closed session. In the public comment portion of the meeting, a former Township employee shared a letter from the Illinois Attorney General’s office indicating the Township did not adequately notify the public of personnel hirings and firings in its March meeting agendas.

Approval of bills, long closed session

The Approval of Bills item on the agenda lists General Fund, General Assistance Fund, and Road and Bridge Fund. (Note: The home page of the Thornton Township website includes a Notice of Board Meeting for the August 16 meeting, but the notice links to the June 21 agenda rather than the August 16 agenda.)

closed session
The August 16 Thornton Township Board Meeting agenda was not available on the Thornton Township website as of August 19, 2022.

Trustee Jerry Jones asked for an amendment to the motion so that each fund could be voted on separately.

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Motions to approve the General Fund and the Road and Bridge Fund were passed, but the General Assistance Fund did not receive a motion from trustees, after Supervisor Tiffany Henyard twice asked for one. The trustees went into closed session from 6:41 p.m. to 7:51 p.m., after which the motion was approved by the trustees. No explanation was provided.

Insurance

Kahlil Hogan from VistaNational Insurance Group spoke to the board about employee benefits specific to the health program.

Hogan said, after analysis, the township is making an overpayment in one of their healthcare plans. He maintained that VistaNational could help reduce payments by 20% by providing solutions such as online open enrollment and bundling packages. “All these solutions that come to bear should save the township significant dollars without sacrificing benefits,” said Hogan.

After the presentation, a motion to approve and act on VistaNational’s proposal was passed by the board.

Public Comment

During public comment, three residents addressed the board. Justeen Allen, a 25-year resident of South Holland, shared positive sentiments about what the current administration has done for senior activities.

“I have really enjoyed attending those meetings that have happened in Thornton Township,” said Allen.

Christian Demar, a South Holland business owner, voiced his concern about performing work for the township in April and not yet receiving payment. He wanted to know the process in order to avoid the issue in the future. He was directed to speak to the township’s Director of Finance, Robert Hunt.

Attorney General letter regarding Open Meetings Act

Stephanie Wiedeman, a resident from Thornton and a former employee of Thornton Township, filed an open meeting act violation against the Township in April for two meetings that took place in March. She received a determination letter from the Attorney General’s office and gave copies of the letter to the board.

A copy of the letter provided to The Lansing Journal shows the Illinois State Attorney General’s office determined that the Township Board did not properly notify the public of personnel-related actions on its March 8 and March 22 agendas. During the March 8 meeting, three staffers were hired, and during the March 22 meeting, two staffers were fired.

The letter said, “This office concludes that the Board provided insufficient notice for three hires approved during its March 8, 2022, meeting, and two firings approved during its March 22, 2022, meeting.”

The agendas for the March meetings listed “Resignation / Retirement / Termination” and “Appointment / New Hire” agenda items, but did not include any further information. The same or similar language is used in most of the agendas of the Township Board.

The letter further stated, “Although the agendas listed the types of of personnel actions the Board took in mentioning hiring and termination, the boilerplate nature of the personnel sections does not provide adequate advance notice of the Board’s final actions concerning those employees.”

Wiedeman said, “I just wanted to make sure that the trustees were aware, so that moving forward when the supervisor suggests for things to be done on the agenda as action items that you shouldn’t be voting on it that way.”

Wiedeman was one of the two staffers fired during the March 22 meeting.

Upcoming Events

Cop on a Rooftop. Lansing, Dolton, South Holland, and Harvey will participate in Dunkin’ Donuts’ Cop on Rooftop event on August 19. Proceeds from the event will support the Special Olympics.

Homewood Farmers’ Market. Every Saturday from August 20 through October 8, the Homewood Farmers’ Market will take place on Martin Avenue.

Taste of Thornton Township. The traditional Taste of Thornton Township is scheduled for August 27 at South Suburban College starting at 11 a.m. Confirmed entertainment will be Slick Rick, Ramonski Luv, and DJ Phantom.

South Holland Fun Run 5k. On September 10, South Holland is hosting a a 5k walk and run for the community. The event starts at 7:30 a.m. at Veterans Park in South Holland.

A complete listing of events can be found on the Thornton Township events calendar.

Other agenda items

  • Approval of Minutes of the Board Meeting held July 19, 2022, at 6 p.m.
  • Motion to ratify the phone poll for approval of two contracts for the Taste of Thornton Township entertainers conducted on July 27, 2022

The August 16 meeting was adjourned at 7:57 p.m.

The next Thornton Township Board meeting is scheduled for September 13, 2022. Meetings are held at 6 p.m. at 333 East 162nd Street, South Holland, IL 60473.

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