Newly elected East St. Louis Township Supervisor Alvin Parks has finally morphed into a caricature of himself.
As ESL’s mayor he achieved the rarified distinction of being mocked by SNL on national TV. Normally, one would have to be president of the USA or, at the very least, a known celebrity to achieve that distinction. But Alvin has always been an overachiever.
However, he achieved an all-time low, during a recent public meeting, when he angrily ranted that “this is ‘Amos and Andy’ nigger business” in reaction to the township board’s rejection of his hiring choices, while approving their own. He even stormed away before, eventually, returning to the meeting.
In the audio recording of the meeting, there were audible gasps of disgust, with trustee Edith Moore even telling Parks, “You ought to be ashamed of yourself.” Parks went on, later, to apologize for his “choice of language” but not for his “passion.”
At the root of Parks’ rant was his pouting over the board’s refusal to hire school board member and Democratic boss Lonzo Greenwood as a $25,000 consultant and his sister Lauren Parks as a $40,000 per year “township operations manager,” a created function which currently falls under Alvin’s job description.
Playing the role of “Kingfish” (from the ‘50s “Amos and Andy” show) Alvin even attempted to push his deal through by offering to hook up board members’ family with patronage jobs as well. But as old Kingfish would say, “Holy mackerel!” Parks’ deal was rejected by the very board members he propositioned.
Amazing how the very deals that Parks has been cutting his whole political life suddenly becomes minstrel in nature, when Alvin can’t get his political cronies or sister hired.
Speaking of which, Alvin’s sister has problems of her own. Lauren Parks is head of the nonprofit corporation House of Miles, which is exempt from federal taxes. Not surprisingly, her brother Alvin and mother Lillian are board members. She also owns a private real estate corporation, PP66, Inc., through which she has acquired the childhood home of jazz legend Miles Davis at 1701 Kansas Ave. in ESL.
Here’s the problem: Lauren has been renovating the Davis home with public donations solicited for her nonprofit corporation, while privately owning the property.
Federal regulations dealing with “inurement” prohibit private entities from profiting from charities. More specifically, private charities must operate in such manner that none of its income or assets unreasonably benefits any board members, trustees, officers or employees.
She has also not been forthcoming or transparent in terms of how much has actually been collected or how the renovated home will eventually be used, not a good formula for creating trust or generating future donations from public or corporate entities.
But it speaks to an elitist sense of entitlement and arrogance, on the part of the Parks family, in which tantrums result when Alvin fails to get his way or questionable business dealings, on the part of sister Lauren, are covertly contrived with little concern for transparency or details for East Boogie’s “lesser class.”
It is precisely this attitude and mentality, among many community leaders and politicians, that hinders any hope of investment in the long term development and future of the larger ESL community. And that is a travesty.