Indicted mayor again skips council meeting
By Michael Gonzalez Post-Tribune correspondent May 1, 2014 10:38PM
Updated: June 3, 2014 6:24AM
LAKE STATION — The television camera crews were a no-show at Thursday night’s city council meeting, but so was Mayor Keith Soderquist.
Soderquist, his wife, Deborah, who is also his secretary, and his stepdaughter Miranda Brakley were indicted by a federal grand jury on a host of charges two weeks ago.
The Soderquists face corruption charges related to using money from his campaign fund and the city food pantry for their personal use. Brakley was indicted for allegedly misusing city court funds and a false bankruptcy filing.
The mayor, who regularly chairs council meetings, did not attend the last meeting two weeks ago, a day after the indictments were announced. That day, Chicago and local media and dozens of residents packed the council chambers, peppering council members with complaints and criticisms.
Soderquist’s absence Thursday drew mixed reactions from council members and those in the audience.
“(Soderquist’s) been to almost every meeting, so why, all of a sudden since the indictment ... he can’t attend the meeting?,” asked Cindy Daniels. “That just proves to the people he’s hiding.”
Former food pantry director Linda Newton blasted Soderquist for missing the meeting, calling him a “coward.” Newton left the pantry early in Soderquist’s administration, but she said her feelings were not related to their falling out.
“This is not sour grapes. It’s doing what’s right for the people,” she said.
Several councilmen said Soderquist has been working in his office recently, but they could not explain his absence from two consecutive council sessions. Todd Rogers, 3rd District, again chaired Thursday’s council meeting.
“I would think (Soderquist is) not hiding behind the indictments,” said Todd Lara, councilman at-large and a frequent supporter of the mayor. “He’s still running the city, as far as I know. He hasn’t been convicted of anything, though he’s been tarnished in the papers. Technically, by law, he doesn’t have to show up (at meetings) at all.”
Councilman Harry Pedroza, 4th District, who has been criticized by other members for his meeting attendance, said, “When my attendance is questioned, why isn’t his? He was (attending) before, and he expected everybody else to be here.”