Were it not for corruption, scandal, greed and the recycling of political leaches, the tiny village of Alorton, Illinois would only be mentioned in the context of some obscure Illinois trivia question.
Joann Reed, the current mayor of Alorton, represents all of those negative qualities.
She recently returned to the position after being removed from office, back in 2013, following a guilty plea to a felony charge of smuggling a cell phone and food to her niece at the village jail.
However, Reed took advantage of an Illinois law that allows a felony to be erased if an “independent evaluator” determines the crime to be the result of substance abuse and provided that the person completes drug treatment and probation.
As a result, Reed completed her probation, just prior to the Alorton mayoral election, and won. But the only ones who are cheering are probably her political sponsors, to whom she delivers votes, in Belleville and St. Clair County.
That would be the likes of St. Clair County Board Chairman Mark Kern, Democratic godfather Bob Sprague, Belleville attorney Tom Keefe and attorney Mark Scroggins who, collectively, donated $11,500 to Reed’s campaign.
And what was her first priority as the newly elected mayor? Being the true “public serpent” that she is, she begged for a new car. That’s right, in an impoverished village of 2,000 residents, the first agenda item at the village board meeting was some new wheels for the mayor.
In a subsequent meeting, the village voted 4-2 to hire seven new, unbudgeted employees. Village trustee Gwen McCallum, who opposed the hires, stated, “We don’t know what they are going to be paid. And we can’t afford them anyway.”
But I do understand Mayor Reed’s sense of urgency. With the possibility of being booted out of office again, because of pending felony vote fraud charges (felony vote buying and electioneering during the November 4 general election), time is of the essence.
If she is convicted, St. Clair County State’s Attorney Brendan Kelly said that he will ask the judge to, once again, remove her from office.
So the game of mayoral musical chairs continues in Alorton. In 2000, Mayor Callie Mobley pleaded guilty to filing false income tax returns and was sentenced to 30 months. In 2012, Mayor Randy McCallum resigned after pleading guilty to federal corruption charges stemming from his intent to distribute cocaine and lying to FBI agents. He received a 43-month sentence.
Apparently Mayor Reed won’t be happy until she finally joins the rarified ranks of Alorton mayors to actually have been incarcerated. In that endeavor, I wish her much success because she has certainly earned it.