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May 23, 2024

Bellwood Public Library Board Under Scrutiny for Closed Session Abuse –

By John Kraft & Kirk Allen

On June 10, 2016

Bellwood, Illinois – (ECWd) –

The Bellwood Public Library Board held a bizarre meeting on 6/8/16 where the three board members in attendance — Regina Greene, J.B. Carr, and Mary Clements — refused to allow a fourth board member, Dorothy Clark-Smith, to telephone into the meeting. Under the Open Meetings Act (OMA), when a majority of a quorum of board members are present and speaking about board business, that is a public meeting. The OMA also provides for board members to telephone into a meeting and thus be in attendance telephonically if the missing board member is sick, is working, or has some other valid reason for not being in attendance, provided that the majority of the public body allows the member to attend by other means. In this case, they refused that option.

Regina Greene pushed to not allow Smith (who often opposes Greene) to be allowed to attend by phone. An Open Meetings Act Request for Review has been filed with the Attorney General’s Office of the Public Access Counselor for Smith not being allowed to attend by phone. 

The Bellwood Public Library Board is an interesting case because the library itself is beloved and needed by the community and the staff at Bellwood take pride in treating the public well and providing valuable resources to them. Recently, however, Bellwood board members such as Regina Greene seem to have fallen under the influence of a mysterious older man who sits in the back of the room during the meetings and makes hand gestures at Greene, seemingly controlling her like she is his puppet. 

At the 6/8/16 meeting, this Mystery Man (whom some have identified as a politically-connected man from Maywood who also interferes with the Bellwood School Board and seems to have control over board members there too) at one point made hand signals for Regina Greene and the two other board members to get up and meet him outside. Greene, Carr, and Clements did as the Mystery Man instructed and witnesses reported the three of them meeting with the Mystery Man on the sidewalk by the parking lot in the back of the library. 

The four of them just got up, walked out of the meeting, and went outside to talk so that the public could not hear them. This, too, is the subject of a Request for Review because a majority of a quorum of board members meeting in secret — with a Mystery Man who controls them — so that the public cannot hear is a violation of the OMA. Greene, Carr, and Clements never returned to the board room and the meeting never resumed. They completely blew off the public once the Mystery Man summoned them to a secret meeting outside with him and they didn’t bother to ever come back. It was the most bizarre public meeting anyone in attendance had ever seen. 

Past agendas for Bellwood Public Library Board meetings show what appears to be an abuse of closed sessions during public meetings. At a special meeting held on 6/1/16, minutes show that the Bellwood Library Board went into closed session at 6:06pm and returned from closed session at 6:56pm. When the board returned from closed session, it immediately voted on hiring the Stuttley Group LLC as the board’s new attorney without having any deliberation in open session. 

It appears that the board held all the deliberation for hiring this firm in closed session, without the public being able to see or hear what was going on and no other bids being taken other than just hiring this Stuttley Group. Compare this to how the Village of Tinley Park handled hiring new village attorneys back in March and April of this year, when deliberation and debate about which firms to hire was held during open session and the public was allowed to weigh-in on the prudence of hiring a very expensive firm. After the public objected, that expensive firm withdrew from consideration. The Bellwood Library Board angered the community by doing all of its deliberations about the Stuttley Group’s hiring in a closed session. 

At the 5/11/16 Bellwood Public Library Board meeting, the Board was confronted on the shady handling of a bathroom remodeling project where it appeared that a consultant pushed forward by the Mystery Man who appears to control the Board was hired, also without any public deliberation or explanation for why an expensive consultant is needed to oversee a bathroom project. The community pushed back and demanded that the Board seek competitive bids from reputable companies for the construction projects. The Mystery Man signaled and pulled his strings and Regina Greene and the other Board members under his control appeared to do his bidding and insisted upon the “consultant” that the Mystery Man wants to be paid large sums for “consulting.”

The people of Bellwood are scared that this Mystery Man is engaging in a scheme involving kickbacks of some kind to plunder the Bellwood Public Library, using the board members he controls to achieve this. The Bellwood Public Library seems to have around $500,000 in cash reserves that it appears that the Mystery Man from Maywood may want to get his hands on bit by bit through “consulting” fees and no-bid contracts. The plotting and scheming to do this appear to be happening during the closed sessions that take place during the Bellwood Public Library Board meetings month after month, some of which last for over an hour. The public is not allowed to see or hear what is happening, but the Mystery Man is always lurking and may even be communicating with Regina Greene and other board members during those closed sessions. 
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  • SafeLibraries
    Posted at 23:56h, 10 June

    “Bellwood Library Trustees Criticized for Oversized Travel Expenses,” by Jean Lotus, Cook County Chronicle, February 22, 2016:

    • Bellwood
      Posted at 15:29h, 12 June

      His name is Chuck Baxter he also tried to due the same thing at Bellwood School District 88, the Technology Director would not comply to his wishes and Chuck threaten him at last meeting.

      • Pamela
        Posted at 19:43h, 12 June

        I heard from parents who were there that Chuck Baxter has threatened and tried to intimidate a few of them. Now why is he there?

      • Erika Collice
        Posted at 15:46h, 14 June

        He has done the same thing for years and worse on the school side, and now he’s attempting to run down the library, too. Come to the next school board meeting on June 20 @ 6:00 p.

  • Philosophy Beddoe
    Posted at 06:45h, 11 June

    Post a photo of the mystery man.

  • Dave
    Posted at 07:23h, 11 June

    This mystery has the odor of organized crime…. only time will tell!

  • Mike
    Posted at 10:09h, 11 June

    Reporter Jean Lotus found many political connections between taxing districts while researching west suburban school boards serving the suburban Cook County communities of Lyons, Riverside, Brookfield, Broadview, Bellwood, Berwyn, Cicero, Westchester, Maywood, Forest Park, Hillside, Berkeley, McCook, Melrose Park, and Elmwood Park during a 5 month series of articles published March – July 2015 on the website

    School Board elections are in the spring of odd years.

    She didn’t find anything substantial in Bellwood but by reading the site one can gain an understanding of how local politics work in that area.

    • Pamela
      Posted at 16:32h, 12 June

      You might want to look further into Bellwood School District with Regina Greene and the mystery mam as well.

    • Erika Collice
      Posted at 15:26h, 14 June

      Reporter Lotus should return to reinvestigate. She should speak to Angela Caputo with the Tribune.

  • Pamela
    Posted at 16:49h, 12 June

    You might want to look into Bellwood School District 88 contracts with the mystery man and kickbacks. People are tired of this Board and their connection to the mystery man…in particular. Where there is smoke there is fire……ask Regina Greene about her salary plus $20,000 stipend while she was the union. Where there is smoke there is fire…… Ask the mystery man why he is constantly at the Administrative Offices….. where there is smoke there is fire. I’ll wait for you to ask. No speculation all proof……

  • Theodore P. Hartke, PE, PLS, President, Hartke Engineering and Surveying, Inc.
    Posted at 22:23h, 12 June

    Here’s an interesting article from “Cook County Chronical”

    This Chuck Baxter guy seems to be inserting himself into the situation:
    “Maywood resident Chuck Baxter, a former Proviso Township trustee, introduced himself to the board in May, 2015 as “public affairs consultant for the new majority library board of trustees,” according to a letter presented to the staff.”
    Public Affairs Consultant for trustees of a library board????

  • Daisy Bell
    Posted at 08:16h, 13 June

    Baxter has been around at least since 2007 or more. For more information see this blog that is no longer active:

  • Daisy Bell
    Posted at 08:18h, 13 June

    A former employee of the Village of Bellwood told me that Chuck Baxter was often at the Village of Bellwood visiting Lena Moreland who is Mayor Pasquale’s assistant.

    What business does Chuck Baxter have with the Village of Bellwood?

  • Michael
    Posted at 17:17h, 13 June

    I have attended meetings where this board has voiced receiving money for travel and don’t feel that they should be required to submit receipts or pay any money back if not used for food.

  • Tosha
    Posted at 17:19h, 13 June

    This board wants to hire contractors and get kickbacks.

  • Dorothy
    Posted at 17:21h, 13 June

    Why does this board want to do the hiring and firing of employees? What experience do they have running a library? What do they know that the staff does staff does not know?

    My guess…….let’s hire our family, friends, relatives, and whoever else.

  • Annette
    Posted at 17:24h, 13 June

    Who is the mystery man from Maywood? Who is Chuck Baxter? What does he look like?
    I want to know…….

  • Meisha Smith
    Posted at 19:41h, 13 June

    I just read the minutes and this board refused to give the staff a lousy 2% raise, then I read the comments and they travel without receipts, seems like a double standard. The board receives the money the staff does the work.

  • Mary Jones
    Posted at 09:32h, 20 June

    I am reading article after article of this group, and I say enough is enough. As a community we need to get rid of all of them.

  • Daisy Bell
    Posted at 19:27h, 06 July

    Out with the Board! We are of the corruption!

    • Connie
      Posted at 20:11h, 15 July

      The meetings are like a circus. The president is more like a puppet that the strings are pulled by Greene. One meeting the president asked Greene to read the minutes from s previous meeting, Greene adamantly said I will not read the minutes, we never read them before so why now? The president again asked, she said no, and she didn’t one of the staff read it. Mind you, Greene is the secretary, but she can sit there and text and give and read hand gestures from Baxter. I sat by him at one meeting and the communications from those two, unreal like all of their meetings, a circus!