Trustee Yarbrough Having Second Thoughts About Gambling Bistro Vote

Tuesday, April 5, 2016 || By Michael Romain || Updated: 4/6/16 

One Maywood trustee seems to be having buyer’s remorse about his vote last month to authorize a Class M liquor license for Lacey’s Place, a gambling bistro attempting to setup shop at 611 W. Roosevelt Rd., in Maywood.

At a March 15 regular meeting, Trustees Michael Rogers, Isiah Brandon and Henderson Yarbrough voted in favor of granting the license, with Mayor Edwenna Perkins making the tie-breaking affirmative vote. Trustees Antoinette Dorris, Melvin Lightford and Ron Rivers voted against the measure.

At an April 5 regular meeting, Yarbrough seemed to be having second thoughts about his decision when he recommended that the board pass a motion to reconsider the action they took last month granting Lacey’s the liquor license.

Yarbrough was required to introduce the motion to reconsider, because he originally voted with the majority in favor of granting the license. If a majority of board members voted in favor of Yarbrough’s motion to reconsider the original vote, then they would’ve had three choices: go back on their original decision and deny the liquor license, table their original motion or approve the motion again.

But the board members didn’t make it that far, since the vote on whether or not to reconsider the original motion drew a 3 to 3 tie and, thus, failed. If Lightford, who voted last month against granting Lacey’s the liquor license, were present at the April 5 meeting, Yarbrough would’ve almost certainly gotten a chance to change his mind if he wanted to.

Yarbrough’s decision, which was met with strong disapproval by Brandon and Rogers, comes in the wake of suspicions raised by Dorris and Rivers, in addition to some residents, about how Lacey’s was allowed to move into the village.

“This entire process was shady,” Dorris said at the April 5 meeting, before referencing what she implied was new information that she’d obtained since the March 15 vote. Yarbrough didn’t comment on whether or not this information may have affected his decision to reconsider his vote.

“The board approved this business to be on Roosevelt before it was even issued a business license,” Dorris said. “The clerk and liquor commission brought it to this board before this business had even gone before the planning and zoning commission. I found out that there is a check list that is supposed to be utilized in the clerk’s office so these types of things do not occur. I’m not sure that check list was used or not.”

Dorris also referenced a letter about the details of the development, which Lacey’s owners were required to mail to residents within proximity of the establishment. She and some other residents have claimed that the letter was mailed out improperly. Maywood Clerk Viola Mims, however, insisted at a meeting last month that the owners had followed proper protocol.

Brandon and Rogers countered their colleagues’ fevered rhetoric with heated words of their own, particulary regarding Yarbrough’s decision to retread ground that had already been covered.

“I see a lot of red flags coming up with doing anything with this [motion] after it had been approved by the board,” Brandon said.

Although he didn’t say it outright, Rogers indicated that his colleagues who were complaining about Lacey’s paperwork were micromanaging tasks best left to village employees.

“The board does ordinances and policies,” he said. “We don’t change our votes or policies based on paperwork not happening properly.”

Rogers also suggested that the board’s reconsideration of an earlier vote might worsen the village’s reputation among prospective developers as a place that isn’t business-friendly.

“It’s bad policy to reverse your vote,” he said. “What does that say? Our reputation is already not the best. We need to work on making it better. I went to the International Counsel of Shopping Centers [and first thing I heard] is our reputation is bad. We had a bank that wanted to come here and didn’t make it. Okay. We’ve got to restore our reputation in the industry for shopping centers and retail. You don’t do it by passing something and then two weeks later rescinding it.

“In the absence of compelling information, it’s bad to be reversing your policy. Why should any business trust us?” Rogers said. “It’s like, once [businesses] get approved [they] start … lining up [their engineers and attorneys and other people]. We can’t turn around [an already approved motion] and expect people to take us seriously.” VFP

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