UNIVERSITY PARK, Ill. (WLS) -- The village board wants her to resign, but the mayor of south suburban University Park said Thursday she's not going anywhere. This comes in the wake of a federal investigation of the village's finances.
The trustees who represent the suburb of roughly 7,000 located about 30 miles south of Chicago said they were first notified about the alleged financial impropriety about a year ago, by the then-village manager. The trustees said since then, they have learned that millions of dollars in village money is missing. They blame Mayor Vivian Covington.
The mayor said she has nothing to do with it, she has done nothing wrong and she blames the village trustees for not doing their jobs.
Covington said she has done nothing wrong with the village finances and said they were a mess when she was elected in 2011. She said the board had done nothing but block her attempts to fix the problem when she tried to make cuts to balance the budget.
The board, many of whom have been in office longer than the mayor herself, accused Covington of raiding TIF fund by setting up phony wire transfers, awarding village contracts to family and friends without board approval and refusing to comply with an audit of village finances.
The dispute comes as the feds continue their investigation into any malfeasance, including confiscating Covington's laptop.
"Everybody's laptop was confiscated. The entire village. Everyone that had a laptop. The police chief, the village manager, everybody and their laptop. They came and they imaged them and that's what the message was to me. They're here and they're imaging the laptops," Covington said.
"I believe it's entirely fair to place this on the mayor's doorstep. First and foremost, she is the CEO of the village, as she so proudly proclaims. Second, if it's a single
Signature on the wire transfers, it is again, entirely fair to place this blame, entirely, on the mayor of the village of University Park. We have not received correct financial data since my time on the board," said Oscar Brown, University Park board member.
Many residents said they are concerned about the financial situation of the village. Some of those who support Covington said this is all a political attempt to push responsibility about the village finances onto the mayor and not where it should rest, they said, with the board of trustees.
Many members of the board of trustees will be up for election Tuesday.
"We the trustees of the Village of University Park are calling for Vivian Covington to step down as mayor of the village," said Joseph Roudez, University Park trustee.
Covington is the first African-American woman to be elected as mayor in the village's 49-year history.
Longtime resident and mayoral supporter Gina Williams says it's all a political attempt to blame the mayor.
"They've been trustees for 12 years. They haven't done anything," she said.
A spokesperson for the FBI would not confirm any probe.
University Park resident Debra Taylor remains concerned about the future of the village.
"We are homeowners. We want to make sure our community is at a certain level. We want to make sure we continue to live out here and we don't end up like Flint, Michigan," she said.
University Park board calls for mayor to resign