Chasity Wells-Armstrong is bad for the city of Kankakee

Mayor Chasity Wells-Armstrong photo credit: City of Kankakee Website

Four years ago, I was Chasity Wells-Armstrong’s biggest supporter. For ten days before the election, I hammered the former Mayor, Nina Epstein, supporting Chasity. In my column in Chicago Now, I posted a series of glowing articles about what her administration’s new era would bring to a failing city.

Four years later, there is no new era. The city has maintained high levels of crime and violence; her economic development is nearly non-existent. She has attracted one major retailer to the community, but retail jobs are historically low paying.

The fact that it has not worked out should be reason enough to change mayors, but there is something about her administration which is as compelling for change as the familiar echoes of gunfire.

The mayor’s lack of ethics jeopardizes the common good. This article is the story of one incident. There are others, but this one stands out for its pure dishonesty.

“You and your friends should show me some respect. You should let me wet my beak a little…Tell your friends I don’t want a lot. Just enough to wet my beak.”—Gangster Don Fanucci, Godfather II

 Former New York mobster Michael Franzese, a one-time capo in the Columbo crime family, maintains that government is a Mafia. While the analogy seems absurd on its face, there are similarities one can draw.

Both provide their services by force; both make claims their activities are for the greater good. Both engage in shakedowns and tributes. Government, especially the political arms, are built on lies, deceit, and extortions. The mafia and the government via “the family” and political parties brainwash their enablers.

The Mayor of the City of Kankakee, IL, levied what appears to be a street tax on a Federal Grant that School District 111 received. Kankakee’s residents recall the numerous incidents involving guns brought to the local High School and fights in the hallways between rivals requiring the police to restore order.

Kankakee’s street gangs overrun the city, and for a while, the violence crept into the High School. Kankakee is not alone when it comes to gang violence. In a town of fewer than 27,000 residents, the challenges look out of place. The streets’ activities are more like what one would see in Chicago, rather than a wide-spot in the road an hour and a half away from the big city’s mean streets.

The mayor extorts money from the school district

Extortion is defined as the act obtaining something, especially money, via threats or violence. Read further, and see how the actions of Mayor Wells-Armstrong fits the definition.

The Federal Government sees the problem of school violence and began offering grants to pay for additional security for students in high-crime areas. Kankakee School District 111 applied to the Department of Justice for one of the grants.

There was a twist in the grant process. To qualify, the Feds required the signature of the mayor.

The memo traffic between the city and the school district is subject to the Freedom of Information Act. I have the memo traffic between the two. If anyone wants those emails, write to me, or personal message me on Facebook or Twitter, and I’ll be happy to send them along.

There is an important point to remember in this discussion. The city has no role in implementing the grant. All work performed was by the school district, with no involvement of anyone in the city other than the mayor signing the grant form.

The Superintendent of Schools approached the mayor, requesting her signature to get the funds to increase security and students’ safety. The mayor refused to sign. She was unwilling to help the schools get the Federal Government’s funds to make the campus safer. The superintendent asked to be placed on the City Council Agenda to ask the city’s governing board for their support. The mayor refused this request as well.

Determined to get the grant and make the schools safer, the superintendent went to the next council meeting and made her pitch in public comments. The council ultimately overruled the mayor and supported the school district. It wasn’t over.

The mayor, like a mafia capo, wanted money for nothing. All she had to do was sign the grant, but she wanted a street tax for her signature. The school board relented and authorized 2,000 dollars for her signature—$ 2,000 paid to the city for absolutely nothing.

Under the threat of withholding her signature, she tried to get more money from the school district and waited until one hour before the deadline to sign the grant. The school district had to scramble to make the submission minutes before the grant submission time expired.

She held increased student safety hostage.

The mayor caught in the indelicate position her egregious behavior standing in the way of school safety has a revisionist history of the events, which her emails contradict.

She claims the school district is not providing her an audit trail. She falsely claims that the city must administer the grant, and that involves a cost. That is a lie.

The school district administered the grant, not the city, and the audit trail is public information. She should FOIA the data if it is a worry for her, the same way I sent an FOIA to the school district.

I spoke with one of her staff privately about the grant and heard the fairytales she is putting forward to cover up her behavior. The emails from the time contradict her false victimhood.

It is time for another change in the Kankakee government. I am sorry that Chasity failed. I wanted her to succeed. The biggest impediment to her success is not the Republicans, racists, or the times in which we live. The most significant hurdle she could not overcome is herself.

You can read my articles at Chicago Now supporting the mayor from four years ago here. In the search box, type in “Chasity Wells-Armstrong,” and they will pop up. If you would like the email traffic between the school district at the city, you may email me at rschneiderassociates@gmail.com, and I will send them to you.

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