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Suburban Chicago residents pack heated village board meeting: "People have floods in their basements"

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CBS News Chicago Live

DOLTON, Ill. (CBS) -- Residents packed the Dolton Village Hall during a board meeting Monday evening, voicing complaints about allegations of misconduct that have been swirling in the headlines for weeks.

The Dolton Village Board meeting was at capacity, and several people were not allowed in. Loud chants could be heard outside the board's chambers.

Before the meeting began, Dolton police Chief Lewis Lacey said "credible threats" had delayed its start. He warned that any "outbursts" or clapping would result in the meeting being shut down.

Afterward, several people took the microphone for public comments – with many taking issue with Dolton village government and accusing leaders of a lack of transparency and other failures. Some called for Mayor Tiffany Henyard and other officials to step down.

Some speakers also took issue with people not being allowed into the meeting, and one accused the village of failing to attend to the needs of residents in areas with infrastructure problems.

"Everybody up there – your attitudes are totally unacceptable," one woman said. "There's been no work done. You haven't been over on our block. The street is split. There's water – people have floods in their basements, and coming in their backyards into their house. You've done nothing. You don't care about nobody but yourself."

After the public comments, Village Trustee Jason House expressed concern about both the outrage among people who could not get into the meeting, and a possible violation of the Open Meetings Act. He proposed postponing the meeting to Monday of next week.

Henyard said the meeting would not be postponed, and the village's business would be continued. The trustees took a vote anyway while Henyard was talking – and most left.

Henyard went on with the meeting, and denounced the trustees' departure -- complaining that it meant the board would not get to any business.

"They didn't come here to handle business," said Henyard. "They came here to do a political theatre stunt, which you just saw. We didn't get to any business as it relates to a scheduled board meeting in our village."

Henyard went on to lambaste the news media for its coverage of scandals in Dolton politics – claiming that unvetted false information has been published.

"It's good to see the media out here, but I wish you guys would come for the positive things and, not the chaos, and not the media show – because that's all that's here. I get it. We're clickbait. We're hot right now, and I get it. This is what sells papers," Henyard said. "But I wish you guys would have came to our Easter event that we had on Saturday. We had over 500 kids out there – happy, running around, giving away baskets – it was amazing."

Soon afterward, the meeting was ended altogether for safety reasons.

Village trustees previously said they had demanded financial records from Mayor Henyard and her administration, but they have been denied access.

Last month, several former employees filed lawsuits against Mayor Henyard. The suits claim they were wrongfully terminated by the mayor.

Meanwhile, another employee separately claims she was sexually assaulted by a Dolton village trustee on a trip to Las Vegas – and then retaliated against. The employee claimed after she told the mayor about the lawsuit, she was eventually fired.

Residents have also called on that unnamed trustee to resign.

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