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Thursday, June 3, 2004 07:23 am

Aldermania: Review board twist

Document giving the mayor authority over discipline in the police department, signed by then-mayor Mike Houston and police union representatives

In what has become a depressing trend, the most exciting public moment of this week's City Council meeting came when a citizen serenaded aldermen -- this time with two stanzas of "America."

But when the council goes into executive session and stays almost an hour, it raises the possibility that maybe something meaningful is happening after all.

Turns out, the alderfolk were discussing the proposed Police Citizen Review Commission and the burning question of whether to implement it during this millennium. A new twist came up in the form of an old document -- a 1983 agreement between city and police union officials giving "the authority to determine how discipline shall be administered within the Springfield Police Department. . . " to the mayor.

Most current officials were unaware of the agreement and curious whether it has been rendered irrelevant by some subsequent contract or statute. Josh Carter, legal advisor to SPD, says he hasn't seen the document but that it's "something we're going to research."

Complicating matters was the fact that the copy the council members had in executive session didn't have all the necessary signatures, even though there is a fully-signed copy available (see below).

Ward 2 Alderman Frank McNeil, author of the ordinance proposing the review commission, says this old agreement could help speed things along. "If it is still in effect, then the mayor has enormous powers to implement the PCRC without police approval and without collective bargaining," McNeil says.

But McNeil doesn't sound like he's in any rush.

"God knows it's important to me. But I've been talking about it since 1989, 1990," he says. "I want it done right, and I want it done so it represents the kind of thing we can be proud of and that doesn't encroach on the rights of the police but also gives protection to the public."


Send warm, cholesterol-free thoughts to former Ward 5 Alderman Bob Vose, who suffered a heart attack at his legendary Korn Dog stand over the Memorial Day weekend. Family members say Vose is recovering nicely and out of the intensive care unit, although he will need surgery in the near future.

A recent Aldermania noted a rift between this staunch Republican and his party leader, local Republican chair and Ward 8 Alderman Irv Smith ["What's cooking," May 20]. Although officially banned from Vose's property, Smith says he's sorry to hear the Korn Dog king is ill.


On a much happier note, Tuesday night marked the return of everybody's favorite alderwoman, Ward 7's Judy Yeager, whose months-long battle with viral pneumonia and a minor stroke did absolutely nothing to diminish her wit.

In a brief speech at the end of the council meeting, Yeager, 62, thanked everyone who had sent cards or prayers, and who still trusted her to represent her ward.

"Some people have the wrong impression when you've been a stroke victim, that you're less than able to fulfill your duties whether you're a mom or a secretary or a surgeon," she said later. "I wanted to say I can still function, I'm able to fulfill all my obligations, and I'm back."

The only real medical problem lingering, Yeager says, is an occasional but severe feeling of dizziness that causes her to "ricochet off the walls." It's a side effect of one of the "industrial-strength antibiotics" she took to fight her industrial-strength case of pneumonia, and although she stopped taking the medicine weeks ago, doctors told her the dizziness could continue the rest of her life.

So if you happen to see the famous tee-totaller staggering like a drunken sailor, it's just an inner-ear thing, OK?

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