Homewood official resigns amid hot mic controversy

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Homewood official resigns amid hot mic controversy

March 02, 2021 - 20:47
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Homewood accepted the resignation of Director of Economic and Community Development Angela Mesaros on Tuesday. She was unknowingly recorded disparaging protesters of a controversial development last week.

Village Manager Jim Marino said in a statement released Tuesday that Mesaros's resignation came after an investigation into her comments recorded before a Feb. 25 planning and zoning commission meeting. A public hearing was being held to determine if the property of the former Calumet Country Club should be recommended for rezoning to light industrial use to make way for a distribution warehouse. 

A group of protesters has organized as South Suburbs for Greenspace Over Concrete in opposition to the development. Mesaros was recorded referring to the group as "a**holes." Her comments were made as staff was setting up for the meeting and the microphone was on.

“No. 1, I can’t fight. And No. 2, I would try, anyway, though. That’s the problem. I would try. I would leap out and try. Actually, I might be able to take on some of them,” she said.

She issued a public apology Friday.

Marino said village policy prohibits the use of threatening language.

"Ms. Mesaros stated that her comments were not made with malice or intent, however she recognizes that they were inappropriate and not what is expected from village employees," Marino's statement read. "In Ms. Mesaros, we lose a valued employee and champion for our business community. She was instrumental in retaining and attracting businesses to Homewood. Many of the businesses and restaurants residents enjoy and patronize are the result of Angela’s commitment to her profession and efforts to better our community."

Marino said local businesses have contacted him to show support for Mesaros. He attributed her comments to the "tumultuous" meetings surrounding the development.

"It’s been a privilege to work with her and she will be missed. We are confident that with her skills and talent, Ms. Mesaros will be promptly recruited by another organization," Marino said. "Unfortunately, some individuals attending the meeting have not exhibited the same respect and standards of professionalism they are demanding. Individuals have acted with contempt for the legally-required rezoning process, disdain and disrespect toward village officials, and refusal to follow public meeting protocol and decorum. While this behavior represents a small group of individuals within the whole, it is a poor reflection of our community."

SSGOC called for both Mesaros and Assistant Village Manager Napoleon Haney to be barred from a continuation of the planning and zoning meeting Wednesday. The group believes Haney tried to use Homewood police to intimidate them. 

"These statements have rightfully intimidated the public, and the public hearing cannot be fair if Angela Mesaros and Napoleon Haney are present," the group's statement read.

Marino said Haney's comments were "misstated in the press and on social media" but that he was "dealt with accordingly."