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Homer Glen trustee charged after verbal altercation with village clerk

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Homer Glen trustee charged after verbal altercation with village clerk

A Homer Glen trustee was arrested Friday and charged with misdemeanor battery after a verbal altercation with the village clerk at the Homer Glen Village Hall.

Trustee Rose Reynders said Saturday she plans to fight the charges against her, which she called excessive, and said her actions did not warrant being arrested.

Village Clerk Christina Neitzke-Troike said she was having a closed-door meeting on Friday with village manager Carmen Maurella when Reynders came into the room, began yelling and swearing at her, tore up a business card in front of her and threw it at her face.

Neitzke-Troike said she asked for Maurella to document the encounter.

Reynders said Neitzke-Troike was also arguing and swearing at her, which Neitzke-Troike denied.

Neitzke-Troike Friday appeared before a Will Count circuit court judge and received a no-contact order against Reynders.

“Reynders’ statements were mostly consistent with the victim’s statement regarding what took place between the two at the village hall,” Will County sheriff’s office spokesperson Kathy Hoffmeyer said in an email.

Reynders posted 10% of her $1,500 bond and has a court date, Hoffmeyer said.

Both Reynders and Neitzke-Troike have expressed interest in running for Homer Glen mayor in 2023, and the Homer Township Republican Organization recently endorsed Reynders.

Homer Glen Mayor George Yukich called for a special board meeting at 6 pm Tuesday at the Homer Glen Village Hall, 14240 W. 151st St., to discuss the Friday incident and determine if it carries any consequences.

Reynders, who was elected in 2021 as a member of the People Not Politics slate, said she believes the mayor wants her to resign as trustee, but said she would not step down. She said that she’s been an active trustee and owns Tazza Italian Ristorante in town so she wants to see Homer Glen thrive. She said many residents and village staff members have also encouraged her to run for mayor.

The encounter at the Village Hall came a day after Neitzke-Troike attended a charity golf outing where Reynders’ husband worked.

Neitzke-Troike said that during a conversation with a golf course employee, she mentioned that she was from Homer Glen, and the employee responded that she was having a bridal shower at Tazza Italian Ristorante. Neitzke-Troike said she complimented the restaurant, and she and her husband recommended different dishes to try.

Reynders said she doesn’t buy that story.

Reynders said she found it suspicious that Neitzke-Troike was at her husband’s place of employment, talking about them and her business.

“To me it was to gather information against me in the race for mayor,” she said.

Reynders said there is “never love between the clerk and myself.” She is distrustful of the clerk and said the situation is politically motivated. Reynders said she feels she was only charged because Neitzke-Troike’s husband is employed by the sheriff’s department.

“The air is very heavy between us,” she said.

Neitzke-Troike said proper protocol if there is a conflict between two employees would be to document it in house, but when the situation is between elected officials, it needs to be documented with the police.

“I didn’t ask for her to be arrested,” Neitzke-Troike said. “The whole situation has become uncomfortable.”

Maurella said he cannot comment on the incident itself because he is a witness.

The village will work to accommodate Reynders participating in village meetings, likely remotely through Zoom, Maurella said.

Maurella said since he stepped into the village manager’s role earlier this year, he has been trying to ease tensions on the Village Board.

“We do have bumps in the road, but we are trying to stay positive,” Maurella said. “We are trying to create a more positive environment. The residents don’t want this. Staff doesn’t want it.”

He said he is working on emphasizing staff’s projects, such as trying to create a town centre, which highlights the hard work staff have been doing.

Tensions have run high on the Village Board since a new party came into office last year. Residents have used public comment period and social media urging board members to cooperate with one another and stop the infighting.

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In the April 2021 election, the People Not Politics slate, which includes Jennifer Consolino, Dan Fialko and Reynders, beat out the three incumbents to become the new board majority. Trustee Nicole La Ha ran unopposed on the slate for a two-year term.

Last July, the new board voted to hire a legal adviser, citing a lack of confidence in the existing legal counsel.

Consolino and Yukich have frequently traded barbs on the dais.

Earlier this year, Yukich and Trustee Ruben Pazmino, who has served on the board since 2019 and often sides with the People Not Politics group, agreed to try and bury the hatchet.

The village is also embroiled in another controversy in which Yukich has said someone signed his initials on the Homer Fest liquor license application without his authorization. The board recently hired an independent handwriting analyst to determine if the document was forged. The Will County sheriff’s office is investigating that case as well.

The sheriff’s department was also called during Homer Fest to document an incident between a village employee and the chair of the festival committee, Fialko, in which he made the employee upset and she began to cry, according to the incident report.

Michelle Mullins is a freelance reporter for the Daily Southtown.

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