Wednesday, December 22, 1999

Alton Telegraph

Location: Alton, Illinois

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Alton Telegraph (Newspaper) - December 22, 1999, Alton, Illinois SERVING THE RIVER BEND SINCE 1836 loniv^ Foot* Border war Mizzou tops , Illini 78-72 me outlook • Father-son team Partly sunny I Small business and cold; High j of the month Holly days Easy elegance graces i festive family meals Page Bl 21, low 8 Page Cl Page D8 Vol. 164, No. 341 - 50 cents Wednesday, December 22, 1999 Page DI www.thetelegraph.com Police eligibility list questioned James Gray, president of the Alton branch of the NAACP, left, and Dean Sweet, attorney for the Alton Civil Service Commission, make their points Tuesday during discussion concerning two grievances filed about the Alton Police Department’s sergeant eligibility list at the bi-monthly Civil Service meeting at Haskell House. NLRB arbitrator studying issue By LINDA N. WELLER Telegraph staff writer ALTON — A National Labor Relations Board arbitrator plans to release his decision in coming weeks as to whether a sergeant eligibility list for the Alton Police Department will stand or be thrown out, civil service commissioners said Tuesday. If the list is discarded, a black female officer could lose her status as the top candidate for the next sergeant opening, depending on retest scores. The Chicago arbitrator held a closed hearing Monday regarding two grievances that three Alton police officers filed with the Alton Policemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association Unit 14, concerning testing procedures that determined placement on the list. Taking such a list to arbitration is rare, sources say. The men complained that educational credits and job discipline information were not included in last summer’s tests, which they claim should have been included under provisions of the benevolent association’s previous contract. That contract expired March 31, but the department operated under its provisions until the City Council approved the new pact July 14. The police officers took the sergeant tests prior to July 14. The Civil Service Commission posted the eligibility list July 16. Two of the officers who filed the grievance were not allowed to take the test, so they are not on the eligibility list. Members of the commission met Tuesday and said they were told the arbitrator will throw out the list but declined to comment about the ramifications — which means a labor contract would supercede the commission’s determination of the list — until the arbitrator releases his decision. A similar situation occurred in Decatur, where a court decided in favor of a labor contract over the city’s civil service commis sioners. “There is a gray area here,” commission attorney Dean Sweet said. “Can the union contract bind us?” If the arbitrator does toss out the list, those who were eligible to take the test last summer likely would be the only ones eligible to take the test again before its normally scheduled date in 2001. There are 18 police officers on the sergeant candidate list. Currently, there are no sergeant openings, but there may be as many as five or six next year, when older officers may retire under the new contract’s pay “spike” retirement ■ See POLICE, Page A9 -    The Telegraph/RUSS SMITH me colorful improvements to the Alton Belle Casino were controversial, but there is no arguing the impact of the gambling boat on the community. City winning with Alton Belle Casino’s success ranges far and wide By LINDA N. WELLER Telegraph staff writer ALTON — One of the most noticeable newcomers to Alton in the 20th century is the Alton Belle Casino. Although the gambling boat and entertainment barges sit at the west end of Riverfront Park on the Mississippi River, the impact of the boat’s opening Sept. IO, 1991, reaches throughout Alton. Gambling revenues from the “head” and wagering taxes have paid for street repairs, police patrol cars, Public Works Department equipment such as snow plows and tree trim ming equipment, two fire pumpers and even a new fire station, among a myriad of other purchases. “We repaired streets that had been neglected for IO years, and we built a brand-new firehouse,” City Treasurer Dan Beiser said. “Before that, we couldn’t even play catch-up with our streets. ■ See BELLE, Page A9 TBS t'Et.tftin iptt mm 1999 was a tough year for county treasurer Included grand jury inquiry, daughter’s death By SANFORD J. SCHMIDT Telegraph staff writer EDWARDSVILLE - It was a tough year, professionally and politically, for Madison County Treasurer Fred Bathon, but the former auditor said his legal and political problems paled in comparison to the tragic loss of his daughter. Bathon’s daughter, Jessica Bathon, 17, died July 24 as a result of injuries she suffered at the Legacy Golf Course in Granite City, where she 'FME' mmira Stnnfoy, ai) 1 tiki worked. Bathon was in the midst of ■ See TREASURER, Page A9 The Telegraph/RUSS SMITH Madison County Treasurer Fred Bathon, foreground, appears at a news conference in August to respond to the grand jury’s refusal to issue charges against him. Riley was forced off of circuit bench Judge’s health problems concerned officials By SANFORD J. SCHMIDT Telegraph staff writer EAST ST. LOUIS - The chief judge of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois said Tuesday that a series of concerns led to the forced retirement of Judge Paul Riley of Edwardsville. Chief Judge J. Phil Gilbert held a news conference at the U.S. Courthouse in East St. Louis to discuss the events leading up to the court’s decision last month to force Riley off the bench. Retiring Riley was a difficult process, Gilbert said, because of the need to protect the public’s right to know while respecting Riley’s right to privacy. Gilbert said he received a letter Monday from Jean Riley, Paul Riley’s wife, in which she acknowledged that the former judge is unable to fully appreciate his condition. “I wish the public might remember Paul’s years of dedicated public service, rather than be curious about recent problems, which clearly are a symptom of, his ill Riley health,” Jean Riley said. Gilbert said his inquiry into the effects of Riley’s health on his performance began about a year ago. U.S. Marshal Terry Delaney, who has been a friend of Riley for years, came to Gilbert with a concern about an apparent change in the judge’s personality and attitude. Gilbert said Riley appeared to be confused and irrational during meetings, and other judges, including appellate court judges, began to notice that the judge’s reasoning was not always rational. Before a July 1997 transient ischemic attack, there was no sign of a problem with Riley’s performance. In fact, Gilbert described him as a “workhorse” who took on his share of cases and jury trials. Gilbert said he discussed the problems with Riley and his wife, and they said Riley was not taking any treatment for diabetes, high blood pressure and possible continued transient ischemic attacks. “An uncontrolled diabetic condition can cause a variety of symptoms and health problems,” Gilbert said, including some of the behavior described in Riley’s case. Gilbert said he had to force I See RILEY, Page A9 Good.-t Morning Area/Illinois.......A3-10 Bulletin Board........AS Editorial.............A4 Nation/world.......D6,7 Obituaries ......  .AS Brown, Bryant, Cook, Hardy, Jones, Kniser, McCoy, Muenstermann, Neunzerling, Rowland, Schmidt, Tepen Television ...........C5