A Shorewood trustee’s accusation that Mayor Rick Chapman was on his phone during a village meeting has sparked an investigation into all personal use of village-issued phones.
Trustee Cookie Kirkland said during a Committee of the Whole meeting Nov. 27 she saw the mayor send text messages on his cellphone in the midst of an update on the sanitary sewer inflow and infiltration project.
“I was very distracted but didn’t want to interrupt by asking the mayor to put his phone away, so I said nothing. It really bothered me though, so I ... decided to submit a [Freedom of Information Act] request for the cellphone records,” Kirkland said.
On Dec. 18, Kirkland filed the request and asked that Chapman’s village-issued phone be checked for texts during the time of the meeting. Kirkland later said she felt she should have made a broader request.
Chapman said he does not make a habit of bringing a phone into meetings. He said the topic of conversation during the presentation was important, and he would not be on his phone. He said he felt Kirkland filed after she found out she was running unopposed for her trustee seat and he thinks she will run for mayor again, starting her campaign with this investigation.
Kirkland said a Dec. 20 FOIA response stated there was no activity on Chapman’s village cellphone during the specified time.
“At that point I decided to let it go,” Kirkland said. She later claimed Chapman must have been playing games on his phone, which would not have been revealed by the FOIA request.
Chapman has surrendered his village-issued phone and asked Village Administrator Jim Culotta to look into all village-issued cellphones. An item about the investigation was included on Tuesday’s village board agenda, but it was delayed until Culotta could finish the survey.
“[Chapman] continues to state he has proven beyond a shadow of a doubt he was not using his village cellphone during the meeting. There is no proof of anything about his personal cellphone,” Kirkland said. “It’s really time to move on. It is unfortunate that the mayor does not feel the same.”
Chapman has shown the board video of the presentation, claiming it proved he was paying attention.
“It’s a sad day in Shorewood when we get into this stuff when we should be doing business with the people,” Chapman said.