Maywood Trustee Isiah Brandon, far left, speaks on April 19 about a plan to relocate the office of the mayor and board from Village Hall to a space inside of the Multipurpose Building, shown on a projector screen behind Maywood Mayor Nathaniel George Booker. That plan has since been abandoned. | File
Friday, April 22, 2022 || By Michael Romain || @maywoodnews
During a regular meeting on April 19, the Maywood village board hired attorney Carol Herschman, of Herschman Levison Hobfoll PLLC, as an independent investigator to “examine allegations of workplace misconduct” made by Maywood Village Manager Chasity Wells-Armstrong against Maywood Mayor Nathaniel George Booker, according to the agreement.
During that same meeting, the board also determined that the mayor’s office will essentially be virtual.
Herschman’s hiring comes after Wells-Armstrong dismissed the village’s former legal counsel, Klein, Thorpe & Jenkins, last month.
The manager then hired Evergreen Park-based firm Odelson, Sterk, Murphy, Frazier & McGrath — a firm that worked for Kankakee back when Wells-Armstrong was mayor of that city — to replace KTJ. Felicia L. Frazier, a managing partner with Odelson, will take the lead representing Maywood.
Wells-Armstrong has alleged that Booker has created a toxic work environment for her and other employees since she was hired last year based on Mayor Booker’s strong recommendation.
In March, Booker’s attempt to force the manager’s resignation was blocked by a majority of trustees.
For his part, Booker has said that the manager’s job performance has been lackluster and doesn’t agree with many of her hires.
Wells-Armstrong and members of the board have claimed that Booker is overstepping his authority in violation of state statutes that outlines the structure of Maywood’s strong village manager form of government.
After the March 10 meeting, where many of Wells-Armstrong’s complaints were laid out for board members, a majority of trustees decided to initiate an independent investigation into the manager’s allegations and to move the mayor’s office away from all village employees.
At the start of his mayoralty, Booker moved the mayor’s office from its traditional location above the Maywood Police Department at 125 S. 5th Avenue into a room inside of the village manager’s office suite on the second floor of Village Hall at 40 Madison St.
In Maywood, the mayor’s office is technically the office of both the mayor and the village board.
Once the board made its decision to move the mayor’s office, Wells-Armstrong located space inside of the Multipurpose Building at 200 S. 5th Ave.
Currently, the village has an agreement with the Maywood Park District, which gives the park district responsibility for maintaining the building for its numerous programs.
Booker and park district officials said that moving the mayor’s office into a space inside of the Multipurpose Building would violate the terms of that agreement. Some board members, however, said that the space would not interfere with any park district programming.
On April 19, the board decided to abandon any plans to pursue a move of their office space, meaning that Maywood’s mayor and trustee board are currently without physical office space. Booker said that he hasn’t been to the office inside of Village Hall for about a month, anyway.
According to the agreement, the village will pay Herschman $300 an hour for her work. That’s $100 less than she usually charges, the agreement states.