Meanwhile, Back at Censure City

Well, it’s really a village, the Village of Lakewood,

At the meeting of the Lakewood Village Board scheduled for May 26th, the agenda calls for another censure of Trustee Bryan Younge.

This time it is for an email he says his son managed to send announcing a meeting a week before the email was sent.

After receiving the email Trustee Ryan Berman replied,

All,

This is not permitted per the open meetings act.  Please remove me from this distribution.

Ryan

Younge explained, “Sorry guys, my kid accidentally sent this. You can ignore.”

Then,

Make sure you include most recent. See below. It points out:

  1. It was an accident
  2. I direct everyone to immediately ignore
  3. Sent by my child
  4. Called for a meeting that was a full week in the past

Here is information about how to view/participate in the meeting through written public comment. At the last meeting, spoken comments were taken.

(I tried to copy and paste the information so you could just click on it, but, unlike last week, the information, including the lengthy Zoom sign-in information is locked this week, so you’ll have to copy it down and type the gazillion letters and numbers yourself to view the meeting.)

This locking of the agenda so linking to the meeting could, of course, be a mistake. If it is, and access is desired similar to last week, then when you go to the Village website or click here, you should be able to copy and paste the long access code to Zoom sometime after people get to work on Tuesday.

One other thought comes to mind.

One hundred people signed in for the last meeting. A commenter suggested that might be the upper limit for a free use of Zoom.

When I linked to my article about last week’s meeting to censure Younge, and referred to Trustee Jason McMahon’s censure, he rightly commented that I should have also linked to the censure of Village President Paul Serwatka. So here are links to both actions.

Serwatka

McMahon

And, while we’re talking censure, here is the statement that Bryan Younge was not allowed to make during or after last week’s meeting:

Bryan Younge reading the beginning of the following statement.

First of all, I want to welcome all of our residents and visitors who have taken time out of their evenings to join this zoom call.

I realize there are many issues that the village staff and officers need to address…flooding, roads, taxes, COVID, parks and recreation, repairs, safety issues…

There is so much to get done in so little time and a very tight budget.

We are all experiencing an unusual amount of angst, uncertainty and in some cases, loss of health or even life.

We miss our families, our friends, our normal way of life.

There is so very little time and space in any of our lives to add more stress or things to do or things to worry about.

I myself have four young kids, the youngest of whom is fighting leukemia and is off to the hospital the day after tomorrow for a blood draw in a critical point in his treatment.

I work in the hospitality industry which has been completely flipped upside down and I lead a team across the country who look to me for encouragement and signs of stability Or any words that will help them sleep at night.

I don’t have time for extra hobbies, but I have somehow made time in my life to be part of this community and try to make things a little better than they were yesterday.

Much of my family is actually on the call now, and they too are curious about the drama that has been heating up lately.

They are worried that my involvement will sour relationships that we already have and expose our family and our name to all sorts of misinformation.

But the matter at hand is bigger than any of us.

This all started when I was asked to look into a simple altercation between two of our staff and one interview led to another interview which led to 27.

During these interviews and with all of the documents that I have collected it is clear that we have a serious issue to deal with at Village Hall.

I don’t have any animosity towards anybody and I don’t have an agenda.

I’m only doing what I am doing to help.

I’m not doing it for power or fame or to be a hero or to be part of some petulant pissing match.

There’s no money in it.

I have no future political aspirations of any kind.

Believe me, I wish none of this was going on.

It has created a strain inside my own family and I personally have lost a lot of sleep worrying about the things that are going on that which I’m hoping to help get resolved, or at least improved. 

None of this is about me.

It is about the treatment of our staff and making things right by them. Making things right by the police that protect us.

Figuring out a way to re-cultivate the work environment and make changes so that Village Hall is a place where people are excited to get up in the morning and go to work.

A place where the best ideas are formulated and a place where residents can go to and have an enjoyable conversation with the people who live there.

Right now, the staff is struggling to keep smiles on their faces.

They are doing their best to serve us and also to get by.

None that I’m aware of received a cost-of-living increase in pay.

At the very least they deserve dignity, respect, and a feeling of safe haven.

They don’t need to feel they have to cower inside of the police quarters in fear of physical safety.

They don’t need to undergo constant verbal abuse.

They don’t need to see affliction or acts of assault or be demeaned and lied to time and time again.

They deserve so much more than that.

Phil appointed me to this position A little less than a year ago, my intent from the very beginning Was to help make the community better.

As a trustee I have a responsibility to our residents but equally as important to the employees.

Right now the trustees are their only voices.

As a board we have failed them over the past  few years, and over the past three weeks I’ve come to the realization that we as a board have a calling beyond simply yaying or naying an ordinance here or an expenditure there.

It’s about our people, and as I’ve gotten to know them over the past couple of weeks (I wish it were under different circumstances) they are such an amazing group.  

I just love them all and If there’s one good thing that comes from all of this I know we will be friends for life.

To see the way they have been treated and the added stress and frustrations they are going through in day-to-day life even before the coronavirus started is simply heartbreaking.

I can’t get into the details of the investigation but I can say the conduct that I am learning are being carried out by certain people within our community is abhorrent.

Yes, I did direct Phil and Jeanine to follow protocol and go through dispatch involving police matters rather than texting them into harms way.

Yes I did follow village council to the T and get board approval to temporarily revoke Jeanine‘s access to her computer (we actually never got that far) because she has been known to destroy documents.

And yes, I have been speaking with staff and the village attorney during the course of this investigation Which I was asked to do by our village president.

If I am to be censured for those things, I will gladly accept it.

And I would most definitely do it again.

But note I am simply acting in the best interests of this community and I’m just hoping that at the end of all of this, I will have made some sort of difference for the positive, no matter how many times somebody tries to stop me.

Look, we are dealing with i’ll sorts of crap right now.

Flooding has everybody on high alert.

That’s a lot of work and a lot of stress, many of us well be up through the night dealing with these matters.

But these matters can’t be dealt with effectively if we are to rely on a village staff that is resentful of their jobs, or us.

There’s so much hard work in front of us… I know I would be hard-pressed to put in one minute of extra work for a group or class that has no respect for me as a person.

The staff and residents deserve leadership that is inspiring.

That brings out the very best in people.

A leadership that doesn’t discriminate based on sex, discriminate based on race, discriminate based on mental health.

Leadership that doesn’t bully or hold secret meetings on how to slant the rules.

We need leadership that unlocks talent, draws out the very best in people and motivates them to step up in times of crisis like right this very minute.

We deserve leadership who are honest, care for our law enforcement personnel who protect us with their own lives. Who don’t steer resources for personal benefit.

Who don’t sneak around the rules and break the law.

We can’t have trustees summarily threatening the livelihood of employees.

We can’t have leadership baiting people into fistfights.

The things that are going on right now are simply mortifying and yes, we will get to the bottom of it.

In our employee handbook we have 25 fair and clear work rules, violating any one of which are grounds for immediate termination.

We are dealing with an issue where more than half of those rules have been broken by one individual alone. [Emphasis added.]

If the status quo with these things Is acceptable to our residents, then I’m not the right trustee.

I get the sense from the people that I have gotten to know and know well in the village that the measures we are looking into can in no way be tolerated.

I can’t be associated with discrimination of any kind.

I can’t be associated with a group that cultivates or even condones a hostile work environment.

I can’t be associated with a group that neglects our police, giving them the equipment and the tools they need to protect our lives.

I wouldn’t tolerate any of this as a trustee or a resident.

There are a lot of things going on behind the scenes at Village Hall that we shouldn’t be dealing with even for one minute.

But sadly, we are.

At a point the public will know and understand all the underlying issues and what is being done to deal with them.

I really do hope that the board steps up and does the right thing, even if it means some sacrifice in the near term.

I’m certain we will get through it, even though the timing for it all could not have been worse.

While I am tempted to sling adjectives over what this censorship agenda is actually about, I will limit it to one word: obstruction.

I am new to politics and I honestly don’t know what being censored means or if that I even care, because all of this boils down to an investigation and some serious matters that is still ongoing and is making everybody incredibly nervous.

Even angry.

If anything I’m glad to know that I am drawing fire away from our village staff for the time being as they truly are on edge and are desperately hoping for change for the better.

I’m hoping our staff isn’t silenced.

Now or ever.

I hope our residents stand up and be aware of the culture that cancers this village and demands that it be healed.

And not a month from now, not a week from now, but now.

As for the staff, me personally… I don’t plan on letting them down anytime soon. 


Comments

Meanwhile, Back at Censure City — 17 Comments

  1. I am saddened that this is going on in our Village.

    I worked for many years with Village staff and our Police Department, and have the highest regard for those folks.

    They most certainly deserve better treatment and a workplace without fear or intimidation.

    Thank you Bryan for standing up for them and for what you believe.

    it shows courage and commitment.

    You are what I call “a stand up guy”

  2. Serwatka was the best thing that happened in that town.

    He cleaned up the cesspool.

    But now it’s all flooding back.

    The corrupt Police Chief was sent packing by Paul Serwatka

  3. I hope young has the tenacity to see things through.

    Judging by the “kid’s glove” approach used in his letter I I would venture to say that doesn’t seem very likely.

    What a shame to see all the hard work and achievements that have come about in Lakewood in the last couple of years all seemingly going to waste.

    Serwatka gave that house a healthy cleaning.

    To see some of the true talent that was brought in resigning and walking away in disgust, and to hear that the handful of staff members that are the true backbone and beating heart of Lakewood are so unhappy and being treated so poorly that they are collectively considering a mass walk-out, is very disheartening to say the least.

  4. Lakewood turning to muck.

    Maybe they should start a village crawfish farm.

  5. Does anyone know why the Lakewood CFO or whatever her letters are was booted from her village admin job in the Village of Prairie Grove a few years back.

    The vote to boot her with a year payout on her contract wasn’t all that close.

    It was a 7-0 vote.

  6. Cal Skinner. Why did you remove my comment asking if anyone knew why Smith was fired from Prairie Grove by a 7-0 vote with a year left on her contract ?

  7. When commenters first comment, the program forces me to approve them.

  8. Cal Skinner,

    My sincere apologies Sir, I’m not really a blogger or poster.

    Thank you for the explanation.

    On a side note, if you have to approve comments this must be a full time job for you!

  9. Lakewood?

    Johnsburg is Crooked Town, USA, with Edwinnie Hettermann at the helm.

    Look at those sweet contracts that ‘look good’ on paper, but guess what, they are typically only 50-65% completed, so a VERY BAD deal for the Pillage Village, but good for kickback cream.

  10. J. Walsh? Nope. His site is run by a crappy WordPress application that “forces” those draconian measures on newbies, allows for the messing with the timing of how comments are placed and his techie is a complete moron. I told him years ago to get off of WordPress and how to hide his ID from the gatekeepers, but he didn’t want to go there. Thus, the ones that love Cal have to put up with ancient technologies here. We are lucky they “allow” us to say anything at all!

  11. Cindy, right!

    The fakenews herald cut out comments bc so many people wrote things that conflicted with their lies.

  12. J. Walsh, your question about why CAO Jeannine Smith was “let go from Prairie Grove with a 7-0 vote and a year left on her contract” is an EXCELLENT QUESTION and one that should be asked during PUBLIC COMMENTS, the beginning of the Tuesday, 5/26/20 meeting!!!

    PLEASE DO SO!!!

    Realize that President Stephan and 2 trustees are doing everything possible to bury, deceive, silence, ignore and discredit Trustee Younge and 2 other trustees that want these allegations brought to light.

    By adding a 3rd trustee to the voting block (of 4), they are out-numbering and out-voting the other 3 trustees making this board ineffective!

    Who tries this hard to bury information if it isn’t true?????????

  13. And though Trustee Younge was cut off in the Zoom meeting, his full statement (listed here) is important to read completely!

    He is 100% correct and he should be commended for standing up!!!

    I truly hope residents will support village staff, demand answers and shout down what President Stephan and CAO Smith AND THEIR SUPPPORTERS (2 very vocal trustees) are trying to do to prevent the truth from coming out, silence those digging for the facts and pull a fast one on Lakewood.

  14. Everyone is certainly entitled to their own opinion, however, facts, protocol, and the law do matter.

    What happened to due process, proper investigation and the truth?

    If there is mistreatment or harassment within any work group, it should be officially reported, first hand and through the proper process, not through a shoddy survey that was orchestrated unilaterally by one trustee.

    This loose canon, vigilante approach is actually a disservice to anyone who may have been harassed!

    These types of accusations need to be taken seriously and handled professionally in order to have any chance of holding people accountable for their actions and to protect the village from legal exposure!

    Anyone who has even the most basic corporate experience should know this.

    Instead, one trustee has single handedly made a mockery of our Community.

    According to Trustee Younge’s statement above, after being informed that his meeting request was in violation of the Public Meetings Act, he replied that his son (not he) had sent the invite (to select trustees, not all) to meet privately.

    Did his son also draft the meeting appointment and populate the invitee section with email addresses of the select trustees to be invited?

    How did his son know which trustees to invite and which to exclude?

    Maybe Trustee Younge’s intentions were good, maybe they weren’t, but there is no doubt that his actions have been unprofessional at best and possibly in violation of the law, putting our village at risk of law suits and dividing our community.

    The personal attacks between members of our community are childish, embarrassing, and unproductive.

    We should all take a breath and look objectively and rationally at the facts as they become available and try to see the forrest though the trees.

    It’s easy to jump to conclusions and take sides, it’s much harder to control emotions, put personal differences aside and make an educated decision.

  15. As a new poster, how long should I expect my first post to be held in “awaiting moderation” status?

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