Calumet City meeting erupts into shouting match between Ald. James Patton, Mayor Thaddeus Jones

Shouting could be heard from beyond the walls of Calumet City’s closed-door session Thursday as Mayor Thaddeus Jones sparred with an alderman over management of the City Council agenda.

A meeting that began by recognizing high school football players ended immediately after city officials stormed out of their private meeting, where they discussed legal issues under an exception to the Open Meetings Act.

The disagreement started shortly after the aldermen came out of the evening’s first executive session, when 6th Ward Ald. James Patton accused the mayor of illegally removing items that he proposed for the agenda.

“The agenda has been hijacked by the mayor’s office,” Patton said, “even though we have an ordinance that says the city clerk’s office handles the agenda.”

Patton says he submitted a motion last week for his colleagues to consider, dismissing a particular lawsuit involving the city. He referenced the suit by listing its coded name — a list of numbers and letters intended to conceal specifics about the legal issue.

“Alderman, this is pending litigation,” Jones said, taking issue with Patton’s reference to the specific legal matter. “Please do not violate executive session privilege, alderman.”

“I am not violating anything,” Patton replied. “You specifically told me this would not be added to the agenda for tonight’s meeting. I was proper in my request to add it to the agenda for this meeting. You are in violation of city ordinance by not adding it to the agenda.”

Jones argued the legal matter was not admissible for the public meeting, therefore it could not be on the agenda. Patton, who has announced he is running for mayor in 2025, said it is acceptable to add it to the agenda without explaining the legal matter publicly.

“The motion needs to be on the agenda,” said Patton. “You should be censured.”

“Obviously, you didn’t go to law school, you don’t understand what’s going on,” responded Jones. “You cannot, alderman, talk about something that is pending litigation.”

“We can’t discuss it in executive session if it isn’t on the agenda,” Patton said.

The argument between the two rose in volume and devolved into personal attacks. Jones accused Patton of “showboating” in front of the news media while Patton sarcastically called him “Mr. Lawyer.”

Keri-Lyn Krafthefer, an attorney for the Chicago-based law firm Ancel Glink and also an attorney for Calumet City, appeared to agree with Jones. She called it a waste of time to add something to an agenda that can only be discussed in executive session.

Just discuss the matter when the aldermen go into executive session, Jones and Krafthefer said.

The aldermen went back into executive session to discuss the matter. The closed session was contentious as screaming could be heard from beyond the walls as the session went past the 20-minute mark.

The meeting came one day after Jones, who is also a Democratic state representative, said he would reimburse the city for some charges on his city credit card.

Aldermen in April asked Jones to provide more information about a series of charges totaling more than $13,000, including hotel stays in New Orleans, Uber rides and meals the aldermen did not remember being for city business.