chicago politics

Thornton Township residents demand transparency amid budget controversy

“Everyone is fed up. They have let things get too far and we have to try and reel it in, Dolton may or may not recover – but the township has a chance," one resident said

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Budget talks can be tedious and hard to follow, but when the person in charge of a substantial budget is at the center of numerous lawsuits and a federal investigation, like Dolton Mayor Tiffany Henyard is, closer scrutiny generally follows.

The situation continues unfolding in suburban Thornton Township, where some residents have raised concerns about spending. They were hoping to ask questions Tuesday night, but the Board of Trustees meeting was abruptly canceled.

“She walks in and says hey guys the meeting is cancelled …sorry we going to have to postpone it,” said Tony Richardson of Calumet City. Richardson says residents were left waiting for almost an hour.

On the agenda for the meeting was the proposed spending plan for the township - which consists of 17 south suburban communities and approximately 185,000 residents.

“The budget is the main thing and the reason why I came here,” said Denice of Calumet City.

“I got copies of the budget and all of my paper work, and I was sitting here ready,” Richardson said.

Many at the meeting have been calling for more transparency from Henyard, who is both the township's supervisor and the mayor of nearby Dolton.

Henyard is the focus of a federal criminal investigation and numerous lawsuits by current and former employees of the city, as well as business owners who had conducted business with Dolton officials.

“There are plenty of red flags, and I can speak to the lawsuits and what it does to us as residents from Dolton to the rest of Thornton Township- cause it is going to be on our backs,” Richardson said.

“Everyone is fed up,” said Mary Avant who lives in Dolton. “They have let things get too far and we have to try and reel it in. Dolton may or may not recover – but the township has a chance.”

Christoper Gonzalez is a township trustee, and said he was told Tuesday’s meeting was cancelled and rescheduled for Friday afternoon because the board didn’t have a quorum.

“It is lack of communication, and just I hate to say it – incompetence,” said Gonzalez. “They were here, waiting, wanting to get their voices heard. It is not right. Realistically, we could have still talked about the budget. We just need to get some changes made here, moving forward and getting some transparency and questions answers."

NBC Chicago reached out to Henyard’s administration, but did not hear back before our story aired.

The rescheduled board meeting will now take place at 1 pm, Friday at township offices.

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