Shields Township, IL. (ECWd) –
The meeting agenda for tonight’s Shields Township Board of Trustees meeting has agenda items to take action to accept the resignations of the township clerk, township assessor, and two township trustees.
An April 22, 2022 Press Release issued by the Shields Township Supervisor sheds some light on what was behind these resignations, along with recent complaints filed against the assessor and at least one trustee.
A cursory reading of the press release indicates the trustee who was the complained-of subject of the sexual harassment complaint was trying to be the “road-block” between the attorney and the supervisor.
From among the press release:
- In November of 2021, a township employee raised an allegation of sexual harassment and bullying against Trustee Kathryn Walker-Eich. The township Attorney informed me that the township was legally obligated to investigate the allegations the employee raised. Trustees Jeff Urso and Kathryn Walker-Eich disagreed about the lawyer conducting an investigation and, instead, demanded that the lawyer resign. My belief in governmental transparency will not support the termination of the township lawyers or the resignation of the township attorney in an attempt to cover up any wrongdoing by trustees.
- On March 31, 2022, the Township Board held a rescheduled regular meeting. I had a conflict for that date and could not attend, so I reviewed procedures with Trustee Jeff Urso so he could serve as chair of the meeting.
- Specifically, at that meeting, the Township Board voted to designate Trustee WalkerEich to serve as an intermediary between the Supervisor and the township attorney. First, that is a violation of township law. As the Chief Executive Officer of the township, I cannot be denied access to the township Attorney. Additionally, a Trustee who is the subject of an investigation cannot serve as an intermediary between the Supervisor and the Attorney. Second, the item was not listed on the agenda, so it was a violation of the Open Meetings Act for the Township Board to take final action on that topic.
- In addition, the Township Board voted 2 – 2 to ask the attorney to resign. Trustee Walker-Eich and Trustee Urso were attempting to get rid of the attorney who is trying to educate them on township, ethics and harassment laws. Because it was a tie vote, Trustee Urso permitted the Township Clerk to cast the tie-breaking vote, which is not permitted by law. The Township Clerk voted in favor of the motion, asking the Township Attorney to resign. However, the motion was improper and illegal because the Board does not have the ability to terminate the Township Attorney without the Supervisor’s approval, which Trustee Urso was aware of.