Macomb’s Equal Opportunity Fair Housing Commission

This historical timeline shows the long, neglectful stewardship of Macomb, Illinois’s ONLY governmental body created to investigate discrimination in the city.

Now, the Equal Opportunity Fair Housing Commission’s ability to help those facing discrimination is all but destroyed. Our city leadership’s failures, lack of transparency, watchdogging failures, planned dismantling, complicity/indifference, or planned political disruption continues.

Historical Timeline

2002, Jan – Equal Opportunity Fair Housing Commission Founded

The Equal Opportunity Fair Housing Commission is given the legal responsibility by ordinance to investigate any charges of discrimination based on race, gender or creed, Dr. Essie Rutledge, chairperson of the commission, said.

2002, Apr 15 – Affirmative action: city, commission disagree

A report by the Equal Opportunity and Fair Housing Commission on an affirmative action and equal employment opportunity policy for Macomb is yet to be presented to council members for a vote six months after it was submitted. The 37-page report, which is supposed to form the basis of the city’s program, was prepared by the nine-member commission which drew on the practice in a number of other cities, including Galesburg and Bloomington. The City Attorney taken to task for lack of action, candor holding up project for months.

2004, June – Gregg Huston (NAACP President) asked about hiring diversity in MPD.

Michael Hays City Administration staffs the commission. Various explanations were offered about why no black officers were hired in over 15 years, various solutions were offered. “Something here is not working,” Huston said.

2004, Dec – Equal opportunity enforcement discussed

Patrick Stout/Journal Correspondent MACOMB-A proposed procedural document for the Macomb Equal Opportunity and Fair Housing Commission was discussed Wednesday by members of the commission and Aldermen Charles Gilbert and Brandon Leindl. Mayor Mick Wisslead had appointed Gilbert and Leindl to serve as a city council subcommittee in reviewing the document. City Administrator Mike Hays said the proposal would place the commission in the role of reviewing and enforcing city.

2005, Mar 17 – City police applicants sought City Administrator Mike Hays told members of the Macomb Equal Opportunity and Fair Housing Commission on Wednesday that a strong diversity push has been made regarding applicant testing for the Macomb Police Department, scheduled for April 9. “We’ve given materials to Gregg Huston of the NAACP,” said Hays. “We’ve attended job fairs. We’re beating the bushes to try to get a diverse hiring pool.” Hays said written testing will take place in the police department training.

2005, April – Wisslead stated he asked for letter about the EOFHC members’ terms so he could make appointments in timely fashion.

2005, July – Hays defends police attendance

City Administrator Mike Hays said Wednesday that the Macomb Police Department was represented at recent racial sensitivity training sessions held for law enforcement officers, and that attendance was in conformance with an administrative plan for active participation. Hays addressed the issue before the Macomb Equal Opportunity and Fair Housing Commission when some commissioners asked about comments from Gregg Huston, president of the Macomb NAACP branch, that Macomb officers

2005, Nov 8 – City approves equal opportunity contract A $700 bid from a Peoria lawyer for external review of the city’s proposed affirmative action policy was accepted unanimously Monday by the Macomb City Council. Donald Jackson, a lawyer with extensive civil rights and equal opportunity litigation experience, will conduct the review. Jackson also serves as the current state president of the NAACP. The policy document draft was written by members of the Macomb Equal Opportunity and Fair Housing Commission.

2006, Apr 20 – City commission wants greater involvement

The city Equal Opportunity and Fair Housing Commission discussed ways Wednesday in which it might be a more active force in city government. Commission Chair Essie Rutledge said a proposed affirmative action document was reviewed by members of the commission and was now ready to be submitted to the City Council for its review. The document contains enabling authorization for the commission’s review of the city’s compliance with federal affirmative action.

2006, June 1 – Dr. Essie Rutledge, Sociologist & Lifetime NAACP Member, Chair of the Commission, retires from WIU

2006, Jun 23 – City minority business potential to be explored

Chamber President Becky Paulsen said Wednesday she would like to work with the Macomb Equal Opportunity and Fair Housing Commission to secure names of city residents who might participate in focus groups. The groups would discuss potential for minority-owned businesses to locate in Macomb, and the type of support needed to help a minority-owned business succeed. The commission had asked Paulsen to appear this week as the final speaker in an ongoing monthly inquiry into

2006, Jul 12 – Building Community goals explained

A meeting of nearly 50 community leaders was held Tuesday on the campus of Western Illinois University to discuss how the predominantly white community can adapt by building upon the strengths and needs of the black community, and then incorporating the strengths and needs of other minority populations to create a cooperative and fully functioning community that shares in human diversity. The project known as Building Community was created by Bill Thorpe, Macomb’s first Black police officer, who was never permitted to ascend to rank of Sergeant

2006, Aug 17 – Panel consults MAEDCO on minority business

“This has been a concern of the commission for some time, that there are no minority businesses,” Essie Rutledge, chair of the Macomb Equal Opportunity and Fair Housing Commission, said in convening the latest inquiry Wednesday into potential startup opportunities. Kim Pierce, executive director of the Macomb Area Economic Development Corp., was asked to brief commissioners on the role of her organization. Pierce described MAEDCO as a private organization with public

2006, Dec 21 – Panel pursues complaint of discrimination

Equal Opportunity and Fair Housing Commission Chair Essie Rutledge reported Wednesday that she and Commissioner Mandie Hall have investigated a complaint of workplace discrimination and have come to the conclusion that there is probable cause to take the complaint to the next level. Rutledge told the full commission that the two had one meeting with the complainant and two meetings with the respondents. She said the next step will be to bring the two sides together.

2007, Jan 18 – Commission clashes with city administrator

City Administrator Mike Hays was involved in a heated discussion with two members of the Macomb Equal Opportunity and Fair Housing Commission on Wednesday over whether to allow open bidding on city professional services contracts. State law allows a governmental agency to award such contracts without open bidding. Hays specifically defended the city’s policy regarding the awarding of engineering contracts to two Macomb firms, McClure Engineering Associates and Benton…

2007, Mar 22 – Delinquent commissioners delaying group’s progress

The city’s Equal Opportunity and Fair Housing Commission has been unable to conduct business for the past two months because of lack of a quorum. Five of the nine commissioners must be present. There were four commissioners present in February, and three present on Wednesday. Chair Essie Rutledge said there are two vacancies on the commission, which further complicates the matter. Rutledge said two commissioners have explained their absences, both having work… {Note that on March 29, 2007, Half of the Macomb Planning Commission failed to show up Wednesday, causing the cancellation of all scheduled business and preventing the advancement of two local projects…”]

2007, July 20 – City needs affirmative action monitors

Members of the Macomb Equal Opportunity and Fair Housing Commission voted Wednesday to become more active in monitoring the city’s affirmative action compliance. Under a plan approved by the Macomb City Council, the commission was given this responsibility. Commissioners authorized Chair Essie Rutledge to obtain information from the mayor’s office on the number of job searches being conducted by the city. Working in teams of two, the commissioners then will review search.

2007, Aug 20 – Wisslead Thwarting Commission Function

Mayor Mick Wisslead had been stalling for 2 years on filling open seats. He also demanded they move the meeting time so “they can be televised: while 2 other groups meeting at same time get to keep their time because “they have more members.”

2007, Sept 21 – Discrimination hearing planned

For the first time in at least 10 years, the Macomb Equal Opportunity and Fair Housing Commission is preparing to take a discrimination case to a public hearing. Commission Chair Essie Rutledge said this is the first time she has been unable to settle a case through a conciliation agreement between parties. Rutledge told commissioners Wednesday that a woman filed a complaint with the commission, stating that she was fired because of racial discrimination. When Rutledge

2007, Oct 1- 2nd reading of ordinance to amend Sec 13-111(b) to redefine membership in EOFHC; Inman moved, Dorsett seconded, unanimous; became Ordinance No. 07-38.

2007, Dec 3 – Panel head at odds with opinion

City pursuit of an employment discrimination complaint is on hold until the Macomb Equal Opportunity and Fair Housing Commission can sort out a difference of opinion between its chair and two city aldermen. The commission discussed a memo last week signed by Aldermen Mike Inman and Dave Dorsett, who serve on the City Council’s subcommittee governing boards and commissions. The two stated that, with concurrence of city legal counsel, they recommend the commission…

2008, March 2 – Equality panel regroups –

During Thursday night’s Macomb Equal Opportunity and Fair Housing Commission meeting, the panel’s roster was given a shake with the addition of a new member and an upgrade for a current commissioner. Stirling Edwards was introduced during the early part of the meeting as the newest addition to the organization, having taken the place of his wife Tammy Leigh Brown, who was first asked to sit on the commission. “Mayor Mick Wisslead was wanting my wife to take the initial
2008, March 30 – Lingering issue moves forward –

The monthly meeting of the Macomb Equal Opportunity and Fair Housing Commission this week was short, but also one that resolved a lingering issue on equal treatment in the workplace. In early 2007, a complaint of racial discrimination was filed by an employee working in the Macomb area, so in response, the commission followed up by beginning its own investigation. According to current Commission Chairman Patrick Stout, the person making the claim was interviewed by

2009, Mar – A proposal to reform the Macomb Commission as a purely advisory body was roundly denounced by Stout (sounds more like a social betterment club), Essie Rutledge, Gregg Huston, Don Wynn, Dave Dorsett (“proposed changes draconian” chairs Government committee hearing proposal), Alderman Inman “can’t conceive of Macomb without a commission.” Alderman Richard Vick called for any supporters, there were none. [In 2021, that is all the body is after dismantling continued.]

2009, Mar – Rosa Julstrom letter to editor “Let’s keep our well-functioning Macomb Equal Opportunity/Fair Housing Commission intact, for our city’s future and the future for all of us as citizens.”

2009, Apr – Wynn and Dorsett to EOFH subcommittee to meet with Ameren

2009, June – Wynn reported approved changes in the scope of EOFHC services that will go to the city council for final action. Some changes include restoring the city administrator as Macomb’s lead affirmative action agent, and having a city-paid investigator join commissioners who look into discrimination charges.

2009, June/July – Amend Sec 13-111(3), 13-116 and 13-114(6) to redefine membership of EOFHC. Inman moved, Dorsett seconded unanimous vote, Ordinance No. 09-18

2011, May 3 – Former Illinois State Trooper/Inman took oath of office as mayor

2011, June 8 – Alderman Don Wynn referred city’s 2006 Affirmative Action and Equal Opportunity Plan to the Macomb Equal Opportunity and Fair Housing Commission for review.

2012, June 25 – Alderman Lobdell moved, seconded by Alderman Dorsett to adjourn into executive session to consider; f.) Conciliation of complaints of discrimination in the sale or rental of housing, when closed meetings are authorized by the law or ordinance prescribing fair housing practices and creating a commission or administrative agency for their enforcement, pursuant to the Open Meetings Act., unanimous. Mayor Inman added Section 2 C13 and Section C14 of the Open Meetings Act, upon request from City Attorney Petrie. adjourned into Executive session at 6:12 p.m.

2013 Apr Community discusses racial profiling. “We were just getting a lot of complaints from citizens and we just felt that it was time that this issue be addressed,” said Gregg Huston
2013, Apr 23. Police, NAACP Agree Talk was ‘Good Exchange’ A panel discussion on racial profiling held Saturday afternoon was a step in the right direction toward better communication between local law enforcement and the community, according those who attended the event. The panel discussion, held at the Vineyard Community Church, was sponsored by the McDonough County NAACP and moderated by Barry McCrary of the WIU Department of Law Enforcement and Justice
2013 Apr. Mayor signs Proclamation for Fair Housing Month
2013, May Gregg Houston his concern about the current projects within the City maintaining the minority compliance, participation and asked who would enforce it. He read an excerpt from the EEOE to the council. Mayor Inman stated that the City Administrator was the enforcer of compliance for the City as it relates to Affirmative Action Policy. He stated that the Jackson and Bower projects were not within the City’s prevue. He stated that the Carroll Street project was and that the Contractor has been spoken to regarding compliance with EEOE concerning the City’s ordinances. The Contractor assured that efforts were being made by reaching out to Union participation. He stated that the Administrator and the City were committed to the Affirmative Action Requirements. Mayor Inman stated he would like to see the matter sent to the General Government Committee to review the process and staying with compliance. Alderman Dorsett stated that would be the first step and that this was probably the first amount of projects in ten years that the City has had to exercise the practice. Mr. Huston then asked what the role of the Equal Opportunity Fair Housing was in the Affirmative Action Plan. The Mayor explained that they were an advisory board to the City. They have some power when it relates to some complaints. He explained that State and Federal regulations supersede the City’s Jurisdiction in many instances, but the City wanted to assure advocating for anyone not being treated fairly. Mayor Inman asked Mr. Huston if he could be available to join the General Government Committee when they meet to discuss the issue. Mr. Huston agreed.

2013, July – Gregg Huston pushes for affirmative action for contractors and updating policy from 1977; Torreson the city’s aa officer admitted there isn’t any followup to ensure compliance (there isn’t staff to do it); Dorsett called for EOFHC to be part of the rework

2015, Sep 19 – Bridging the Testing Gap Substantial gaps between standardized test scores of black and white students are cause for concern among some in the community. There are those who suggest there may be racism inherent in the system. Despite the Illinois State Board of Education’s 2014 Macomb CUSD 185 report card, which graphs black elementary students 36 percent below white students on standardized reading scores and 39 percent lower in math and at the high-school level white kids led reading scores by 30

2016, July – reviewing affirmative action policy could be done by December; no need for subcommittee

2017, Jan – name subcommittee, chaired by Albarracin, assisted by Carr & Adams. Torreson had began revisions nearly FOUR YEARS AGO, but they were never sent forward. Carr said subcommittee work should be ready by April meeting. “Aldermen would be expected to adopt a resolution attesting to state and federal adoptions of equal opportunity standards and the city’s compliance. Also to be approved is the city’s affirmative action policy covering the filing and investigation of public complaints, procedures when the city is charged with discrimination, and affirmative action standards expected of contractors and subcontractors on city projects.”

2017, Mar – reappointed Nelson

2017, Apr – extended deadline as requested by Torreson; to July; “current policy just sitting on the shelf”

2017, July – reviewed changes in streamlined document, sent to subcommittee for review. in addition to shortening the length of the resolution, changes were made in three key areas: (1) affirmative action compliance would be required of any city contractor or subcontractor working on a project of $20,000 or more; (2) recommended guidelines would be put in place for a minimum number of African-American, female, or Hispanic members on a work crew; and (3) companies working on city projects funded in part by state or federal dollars would be subject to state or federal regulations rather than the city resolution.

2017, July – Torreson reported that he, along with Alderman Don Wynn and Commission Chairman Stirling Edwards, reviewed a housing complaint. It was determined that this was not a case of discrimination.

2017, Aug Julie Flynn appointed

2018, Apr. subcommittee should soon be done. Had three meetings and a third has been scheduled. Substantive change would be in the equal opportunity goals for city contractors. Instead of a mathematical formula, persons of color must comprise 10 percent of the workforce and women must comprise seven percent of the workforce whenever there are at least 10 workers assigned to a job site. Petrie said the same percentages would also be applied to city employment goals. “We may add a comment that police officers and firefighters would be exempt from those percentages because of state testing standards, which are not under city control,” she said. The city attorney said the next task for the EOFH subcommittee is the examination and revision of forms to be completed by contractors. City Administrator Dean Torreson said five or six contractors have current forms on file, and they will be asked to redo them once the new forms are approved.

2018, Oct. Rewrite should be done in January. Have had 3 meetings; AmeriCorps intern Kathleen Preissing to work on it.

2019, Jan. Meeting reports???

2019, Apr. Incoming Scott Coker will be affirmative action officer. He’ll work with the committee and the subcommittee of Adams, Albarracin and Carr

2019, Apr 26. Equal Opportunity Commission sets schedule Members of the Macomb Equal Opportunity and Fair Housing Commission approved a meeting schedule Thursday. The commission meets on a quarterly schedule at 5:30 p.m. on the fourth Thursday of the appropriate month. For the remainder of this year, the commission will meet on July 25 and October 24. It will begin its 2020 schedule with a meeting on January 23. City Administrator Dean Torreson told commissioners that incoming administrator Scott Coker will serve as the

2019, May. Vigezzi named liaison to commission

2019 July 31. Unfinished business Attendees to the Equal Opportunity and Fair Housing Commission meeting last Thursday, July 25, 2019 may have left the meeting with some unanswered questions. On Thursday, July 25, the Equal Opportunity and Fair Housing Commission held one of its quarterly public meetings. Present at the meeting were three representatives from the Democratic Women of McDonough County, and City Administrator Scott Coker. The committee, which meets every three months, had two items on its agenda.

2019, Oct. No quorum. Meeting cancelled

2019, Oct 31 – EOFHC sees changes in leadership Two members of the Equal Opportunity and Fair Housing Two members of the Equal Opportunity and Fair Housing Commission have resigned this past week, and the recommendation of a new commissioner-at-large is expected at the upcoming city council meeting on Monday. In an interview with the Voice on Tuesday, Mayor Mike Inman confirmed that Patrick Stout, the commissioner-at-large, has stepped down from his position on the board. Inman said he intends to make a recommendation about the new candidate for the position during the council

2020, Jan 25 – EOHC welcomes new commissioner. Chairman defends meeting quarterly, rather than more frequently. The Equal Opportunity and Housing Commission held another quarterly meeting, welcoming new members, taking steps toward an affirmative action policy rewrite, and answering public inquiries almost half-a-year old. On Friday commissioners welcomed one newly-appointed commissioner and were given copies of a rewrite of the affirmative action policy for review. Should the commissioners have any questions on the policy, discussion will occur at the next quarterly meeting on April 23.