Overpass resolution tabled

February 7, 2019

By Tesa Glass

MT. VERNON — A attempt by Councilman Jim Rippy to persuade fellow council members to approve a resolution in support of an overpass on the east side of town was tabled.

During the City Council meeting on Jan. 7, Rippy tried to get the council to approve a motion to have City Manager Mary Ellen Bechtel draft a resolution for the city to support an overpass project on the east side of town and prioritize engineering funds. The motion died for a second.
On Jan. 7, a resolution was presented to the council which stated the city would support a plan for an east side overpass which died for lack of a second.

Mike Bullard, the chairman of the Grade Separation Committee spoke to the council during public comment and said there was a resolution before the council, and although signing a resolution “is an important message, but I think the support is already there. I also believe it’s important to share that support with the public as well.”

Councilman Jeff May called Rippy’s efforts on Jan. 22 to force affirmative resolution votes politically motivated.

“I’m not running for election,” May said, adding he didn’t care what Rippy thinks of him. “You put this resolution out there. I do support a committee. I think it’s a good idea. I have concerns about this resolution. Why? I think it’s politically motivated without a doubt, to put people on the spot in an election year. Two, it doesn’t go far enough, and it needs to be amended to add some circumstances in which our city officials can be involved and how much time it’s going to be required to be fiscally responsible, which is not addressed in any way. And, it should be clearly communicated to the people of Mt. Vernon that yes, there is a committee looking at this, but it is not a guarantee in any way there will be a bypass, and we don’t know if it’s practically feasible. … This is just a hoax to confuse the people of the city and to use against people running for election, in my view, and I don’t support it.”

Councilman Donte Moore pointed out that he wants more time to find out what the committee has discovered and what work it is doing in the future before he officially puts his name on a resolution.

“Tonight is the first time I had to talk to the chairman (Mike Bullard),” Moore said. “I still have questions. … Councilman Rippy says this is a preliminary thing. So, if this is a preliminary thing, give me a little more time to ask questions and get some more information. From what I understand, you guys have only had two meetings. I just need more information.”

Rippy said he just wants to know if Moore supports a bypass.

“I think the mayor has already said that the city already supports this,” Moore said. “… when it comes to resolutions, I should be able to have time to look at the resolution, be able to ask as many questions as possible about the resolution. … Once I put my name on a resolution, that means to me, just me, just Councilman Moore, that I know a lot of things going on with that resolution so I can answer questions from the public. … I said already, I support, I support, I 100 percent support it. But when you turn it into resolutions, I’ve got questions.”

Rippy claimed that Moore isn’t for an overpass because he won’t put his name on a resolution. The claim brought comments from May.
“That’s my point right there,” May said. “Did you hear what Mr. Rippy said there? If you don’t support it, you are against it. It’s his ability to use this against you in public, in the newspaper, on Facebook, and to anyone who reads that. That’s what this is all about.”

Jeff, I disagree with that and I resent your personal attacks and the grandstanding comments you made,” Rippy said. “If grandstanding is trying to do what people ask you, then I’m going to be the biggest grandstander in the world.”

Councilman Mike Young seconded the motion to table the resolution, saying he doesn’t agree with the wording of the document.
After the motion was tabled, Rippy again addressed the issue during the City Council section of the agenda.

“I want to say that I hope some of you folks that do not want to support this grade separation or support competitive bidding for professional services, that you talk to some of the people you represent and see what they have to say about it,” Rippy said also referring to a previous complaint he voiced about the city getting a request for professional services.

“So, you’re assuming we haven’t talked to anybody, is that what you’re saying?” Young asked.

“No, I’m saying that I’m not sure. I’m just asking that you do it. I don’t have any knowledge,” Rippy said.

Vehicles wait for a train at one of the two railroad crossings on the east side of the city across Illinois Route 15.