St. Clair County Associate Judge Christopher Kolker ruled that an East St. Louis civic activist doesn’t have standing to seek fines or remove public officials from office over their handling of tax increment finance projects.
Following a hearing on Friday, Kolker dismissed with prejudice a portion of a suit Matt Hawkins brought in 2013.
Kolker adopted a defense argument that the power to remove public officials is the domain of law enforcement, not private citizens.
He remarked that courts would be overwhelmed if private citizens were allowed to bring removal actions against officials with whom they disagreed.
Hawkins claims East St. Louis City Clerk Dorene Hoosman, Mayor Alvin Parks, City Council members Roy Mosley, Emeka Jackson, Latoya Greenwood, Robert Eastern III and City Manager Deletra Hudson have violated the Tax Increment Allocation Redevelopment Act (TIARA), Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), their oaths of office and a misconduct statute.
He wanted the officials removed from office, claiming the officials have refused to turn over documents concerning a Community Block Development Grant where nearly $2.5 million was spent to renovate and/or build 16 housing units involving 12 buildings. He claims that these expenditures of tax payer dollars in an impoverished community like East St. Louis have been under the guise of “invisible development that has had no measurable positive impact on Plaintiff’s community.”
He also has sought minutes from meetings of the Tax Increment Finance Commission Joint Review Board which oversee millions in public funding, but claims the city has indicated there were no records for his requests, “which also means that there is no evidence that the Joint Review Board met at all much less reviewed and/or approved an annual plan or any TIF Amendments from 2009 to 2013 in open violation of laws governing the operation of TIF programs…”
Kolker said he would take under advisement a portion of Hawkins’ suit which claims violations of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).
Attorney Michael Wagner of Clayborne, Sabo and Wagner in Belleville represents the defendants in Hawkins’ pro se complaint.
Wagner argues that Hawkins’ FOIA allegation fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.
Kolker indicated he would rule within a few days.
St. Clair County case number 13-MR-190