Freedom vs. Safety; Misdemeanor Charge in Forest

The Forest Village Council met last night at Gormley Park to discuss a variety of Village Business, including a misdemeanor citation against a local resident. 

Local resident, Kathie Phillips, was cited with a second-degree misdemeanor for removing a barrier from a public site which was in violation of rules put into place by the Department of Health. 

In a speech before the Council, Phillips stated that the Chief of Police came to her place of residence to ask if Phillips removed the tape from the park. Phillips responded that she had in fact removed the tape from the park facilities. After this confession, she was informed that she had been recorded doing so and was issued the citation. To conclude, Phillips stated that she was ashamed of the Mayor of Forest, Dean Hankins, and the Forest Village Council. 

In support of Phillips, Council members PJ Noascono and Denny Phillips, spoke on the matter of the citation. Noascono gave a passionate speech before the Council in which he stated he was in complete favor of the park being fully open. Continuing, he stated that the Park Board has an overreach of power and due to the lack of communication, sneaky tactics and, going around Council, the Mayor should consider stepping down. 

In response, Mayor Hankins stated that he takes Public Health seriously, which is one of the Mayor’s most important duties. Additionally, the Mayor cited that the move by Council to open the park was against the orders put into place by former Director of Public Health, Dr. Amy Acton. He said that it would be against his oath to break the law and he would not direct Village employees to break the law either. 

Law Director, Jason Miller, spoke on the nature of the Council’s resolution to open the park saying that it was “Symbolic in nature as a Village Council can not override a State order.” Miller went further saying that the oath that he administered to all members of the Council was “To follow the law, not if you agree with it but because it is the law.” 

Phillips, who was caught on camera removing caution tape from park facilities, stated that she plans on fighting the citation in court believing she was unjustly cited.