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How the Commissioner Lost His Commission

Park Forest, IL-(ENEWSPF)- Before the end of his term as commissioner, Randall White lost his place on the Park Forest Youth Commission. The Village Board of Park Forest took the rare move of removing Mr. White from that commission. This report covers why the Village Board made that move. This begins with a police incident Mr. White reported to the police in January 2020. I was preparing to run this story before the April 4, 2023, election until I was appointed a director on the Park Forest Non-Partisan Committee on Local Government. From that time forward, such a story might have been considered inappropriate. The Non-Partisan Committee takes no stand on any candidate running for office in the village government. That includes the Park Forest Village Board and the Library Board. 

I stepped down from the board of the Non-Partisan Committee after the election. I concluded my service with gratitude to those who have kept non-partisanship alive in Park Forest for generations. In addition to serving as a director, I was happy to redesign the committee’s website at no cost.

Article Placed on Hold

When Mr. White announced his candidacy for Village Trustee, I put this article on hold indefinitely as I was still on the board of the Non-Partisan Committee.

Then came the Special Session of School District 163’s Board of Education last Wednesday, May 31, 2023. Mr. White, now a trustee in the Village of Trustee, attended this meeting. He objected to the Board of Education’s proposed move to remove Dr. Caletha White as superintendent.

During the meeting, Trustee White repeatedly yelled at, demeaned, and made threats to numerous people on this public board. He ridiculed their family members. Mr. White called the board president Margaret McDannel an “evil old lady.” He did this during one of his numerous interruptions of the board meeting that night.

Here’s the entire board meeting minus about 20 minutes when I had to leave to run an errand:

After the Meeting

After the meeting, Trustee White also went after the teachers’ union representative, Vicki Morris, in the hallway. Ms. Morris is a Vice-President of the Teachers Federation of Park Forest Local 604 IFT-AFT, AFL-CIO. She serves as the Council President representing the teachers at the school. Mr. White began yelling at Ms. Morris from down the hall, outside the board room. He did this after all the votes were taken and the meeting adjourned after 11 PM. He then focused his explosive temper on me, demeaning me publicly, in the hallway after the meeting.

When Mr. White began his late-night hallway tirade against Vicki Morris in the hallway, she and I were conversing a distance from Mr. White. She expressed her thoughts about the board’s decision to place Superintendent White on paid administrative leave and rehire Dr. Carmine at a rate “not to exceed $1200 per day.” Ms. Morris told me she wished the board had made no changes in the superintendent’s position that night. During the meeting itself she called for stability. The union and the district are still in the process of negotiating a new contract. Ms. Morris remains concerned that the teachers will get a fair contract.

Trustee White thus lashed out at someone who perhaps agreed that the district should have kept Dr. Caletha White in her position as superintendent.

We Wrote About the Superintendent’s High Salary Four Years Ago

I do have concerns about the high salary the district paid Dr. Carmine. I expressed these concerns in the past. Four years ago, I wrote, “If we go strictly on how much Dr. Joyce Carmine takes home annually from Park Forest-Chicago Heights School District 163, then we must conclude she is the richest superintendent in Illinois. Dr. Carmine’s salary, approved in January, is $120,000. To keep her pension, however, she can only work 100 days, so her per diem is $1,200.” (See SD 163: Home of the Richest Superintendent in Illinois)

She was rehired Wednesday at this same salary. The district has an outstanding contract with Dr. Carmine that specifies that rate. The board utilized this contract at that rate when rehiring her as interim superintendent.

The video above is Trustee White’s emotional outburst at me in the hallway. I was perplexed. I had not spoken to Trustee White the entire night. He criticized me for making a video of his late-night outburst, even though Mr. White videoed much of the school board meeting.

He worked hard to make himself the center of attention at the board meeting with his numerous interruptions.

To me, he said in the hallway, “No wonder your family left you,” whatever that meant. And, “You were in rehab.” He yelled that “no one” reads this publication.

No one but him, it appears.

An Evening of Accusations

It was weird, honestly. So I asked him why he left Park Forest’s Youth Commission. He denied he left, instead saying his appointment had expired. I then asked him why he was removed from the Youth Commission. He said he was not removed.

Trustee White made several claims and accusations against people that night without evidence or verification. He was SD 163 school board member when the board enabled Dr. Joyce Carmine to be a consultant to Dr. Caletha White.

The Village Board in Park Forest removed Mr. White from the Youth Commission before his term ended. I have confirmed this with three village trustees and the former Mayor of Park Forest. It’s time to share what happened because of his denials and how he demeaned several people at Wednesday’s school board meeting.

All following information is based on public records, specifically Park Forest Police Incident 20PF00614. This information was legally obtained under the Illinois Freedom of Information statute.

How the Commissioner Lost His Commission

Voters might wish they had this information before April 4, 2023, when  Mr. Randall White ran for Village Trustee in Park Forest. This pertains to how Mr. White lost his Park Forest Youth Commission position. This happened the Village Board became aware of the following police incident. The Village Board took the unusual action of removing him from the commission before his term expired.

According to Park Forest Police Incident #20PF00614, an officer responded to the Park Forest Police Department on January 12, 2020, to investigate a delayed report of an alleged aggravated assault. The officer spoke to two 36-year-old men. Mr. Randall J. White was one of those men, according to police.

It is important to note that the story the two men initially told police changed, according to subsequent reports police wrote.

The men told the officer that on that morning at 5:00 AM, the other man was with his girlfriend and Mr. White. The other man was unsure of his girlfriend’s last name as they had just started dating, according to police.

The First Version

The initial report said the three were riding in the other man’s Dodge Caravan. The other man was driving, his girlfriend was in the front passenger seat, and Mr. White was in the third-row seat on the passenger side. The two men saw a white vehicle following them but didn’t think it was suspicious, according to police. The man who owned the Dodge parked it near the intersection of Warwick Street and Warwick Court. He did this so he could talk to his girlfriend, according to police.

At this point, the first report says that another man allegedly exited a white Ford pickup truck. According to the report, this man approached the front driver’s side of the Dodge Caravan. This man allegedly opened the unlocked door and yelled, “Don’t move.” He allegedly pointed a black semi-automatic firearm at the other man, the driver of the Dodge, according to police.

The man with the firearm then allegedly opened the rear driver-side door to the Caravan and saw Mr. White in the third-row seat. Mr. White then exited the Dodge through the passenger side rear door and knelt to stay hidden from the man allegedly holding the gun, according to police.

He then backed up slightly and fell, according to the report.

The Driver Searches

Mr. White then “immediately stood up,” according to the report. The man who allegedly had the firearm approached Mr. White and poked Mr. White in the chest repeatedly with his left hand while pointing the firearm at Mr. White, the report says.

“I should kill you right now,” the man allegedly told Mr. White.

At this point, Mr. White allegedly fled on foot east towards Warwick Court through the backyards of the homes there, according to police. According to the report, the man driving the Dodge saw that the nearby area was clear of Mr. White and the man with the firearm.

The driver of the Dodge then began to look for Mr. White and saw him walking by a church in the 400 block of Lakewood Boulevard. The driver of the Dodge Caravan then took Mr. White home. After this, the driver took his then-girlfriend home to Calumet City.

The report says Mr. White then told the officer that he was certain of the identity of the man who allegedly had the firearm. According to the report, he said he had seen the man “numerous times on multiple occasions.”

Why the Man Who Allegedly Had the Firearm Was Upset

Mr. White told the officer that the man was “after him due to a previous affair” with the man’s wife from approximately ten years ago, according to police. He alleged that he had “numerous negative encounters” with the man that he never reported to the police, the report says. According to the report, Mr. White said he waited to report this incident out of guilt for the past affair.

A video provided by a nearby resident shows a subject running up the resident’s driveway through her backyard. The video also captured a dark-colored vehicle parked on the street in front of her house and a man yelling, “I knew it was some bullsh*t going on over her. He gone jump out, this mother f***er.” A woman’s voice is audible in the background, but her words are not comprehensible in the video. The man then tells the woman, “Shut the f*ck up!”

The camera stopped recording at that point as it was on a motion sensor.

The Changes of the Story that Led to the Lost Commission

There is a supplemental report for this incident. A detective interviewed Mr. White “in furtherance to this investigation,” the report says. Mr. White was in custody in Park Forest, the report says, in connection with “unrelated arrest warrants,” according to police.

Mr. White told the detective his friend with the Dodge picked him up, and they went to pick up his friend’s girlfriend. According to this report, the three went to an unknown bar in Hammond, Indiana.

The report says Mr. White wasn’t sure when they arrived at the bar or left.

While driving back to Park Forest, Mr. White had his friend stop at the Park Forest Parks and Recreation Center at Michelle Obama School of Technology and the Arts, 530 Lakewood Boulevard, according to police. Mr. White said he remembered staying at the school for approximately one hour. After they left the school, they were confronted by the man with the firearm, according to the report.

Mr. White, at the time a School District 163 Board of Education member, had access to the school, even in the middle of the night.

Video Surveillance Shows a Fourth Person

Here, the detective told Mr. White that he had reviewed surveillance footage that captured part of this incident. He told Mr. White that it seemed as if the subject in the video knew with whom he was speaking and that this incident wasn’t random, according to police.

At this point, Mr. White told the detective that the woman with whom he had the alleged affair a decade ago was also with him, his friend, and his friend’s girlfriend in the Dodge, according to the report. She was also in the vehicle when the man with the firearm, her husband, allegedly confronted them, according to police.

According to Mr. White, the woman left her car parked on Warwick Street after Mr. White and his friend picked her up. The report says that Mr. White told the detective she, Mr. White, his friend, and the other woman spent the evening together.

Mr. White further said that when the man with the firearm confronted them while they were in the Dodge, he allegedly struck his wife with a closed fist. According to the report, Mr. White said he was unsure how and when the man’s wife left the scene because he was hiding.

The Driver Reveals More Contradictions

The driver of the Dodge Caravan told the detective that all four of them went to the bar in Hammond. After the bar, this man drove them to Michelle Obama School. According to the report, the four of them entered the school and spent over an hour there.

Again, Mr. White, a school board member, could grant the four access to the school, even in the middle of the night.

The Man with the Firearm Surrenders to Police

The detective interviewed the man who allegedly had the firearm. This man turned himself in to the police, the report says. The man said he had been out with friends and then decided to drive around Park Forest. To his “disbelief,” according to the report, he found his wife’s car parked on Warwick Street. This was about 2:00 AM, the report says. He suspected the car had been there a while as there was frost on the windows, the report says.

The man waited. Around 5:00 AM, he saw a vehicle drive around and eventually pull in front of his wife’s car. He saw a man exit this vehicle and start his wife’s car. He approached, and, when he got close, he realized that it was White, the report said.

“Not you again,” the man said, according to the report. He then chased Mr. White, saying he was going to “F**k his ass up,” according to the report.

Mr. White fled the scene, the man said. According to the report, the man did not come in contact with Mr. White.

The man said he opened the van, saw his wife, and grabbed her by her jacket, pulling her out of the van, according to the report.

He told the officer that he knew White as a “Commissioner for the Village of Park Forest,” the report says, and that White had an affair with his wife about ten years prior.

This man was processed on a misdemeanor count of aggravated assault, the report says. He posted bond and was released.

A Contradiction of Time: Not One Hour but Three

The detective spoke with an administrator at Michelle Obama School and retrieved video surveillance footage. According to the report, the four people in the Dodge were at the school longer than an hour.

Reviewing the video, the detective saw a gray minivan approach the school at 2:11 AM, according to police. The minivan drove onto the sidewalk and parked near the Parks and Recreation Center’s entrance. Two minutes later, four people, Mr. White, his friend, his friend’s girlfriend, and the other man’s wife, entered the Parks and Recreation Center.

At 3:27 AM, another camera shows the driver of the Dodge and his girlfriend walk into a hallway leading to classrooms, then into another hallway out of view of the camera, the report says. A few minutes later, the detective sees the two, who appear to be hugging each other, according to the police.

At 3:41 AM, Mr. White, the woman he was with, and the other couple “appeared to have split up,” according to the report. Mr. White and the woman he was with walked beyond the camera’s view.

At 3:43 AM, another camera shows White’s friend and girlfriend walking alone.

At 5:19 AM, the four exited the Parks and Recreation Center, according to police. That put them in the school for just over three hours.

The Lost Commission

As Mr. White was on the Park Forest Youth Commission at the time, the Village Board had concerns about him being in a role where he should be a role model for youth, according to board members who spoke with eNews Park Forest.

The board held an Executive Board session in March 2020 and decided that Mr. White would be immediately removed from the Youth Commission. The minutes for the March 2, 2020 Rules Meeting of the Board of Trustees state:

Mayor Vanderbilt called for a motion to adjourn into executive session in accordance with the Open Meetings Act (5 ILCS 7, section 120, sub section 2c) for the purpose to consider the discipline, performance or removal of the occupant of a public office, when the public body is given power to remove the occupant under law or ordinance.

Mayor Jon Vanderbilt announced in a subsequent open session of the Village Board shortly after that a commissioner had been removed from a commission.

“We wanted him out,” Trustee Tiffani Graham told eNews Park Forest.