City Hall lock change highlights feud between Mount Vernon mayor, City Council

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Marcus Solis is live in Mount Vernon with the latest details.

A battle brewing at Mount Vernon City Hall is heating up Tuesday, as both sides launch accusations over the changing of locks at the building.

Mayor Richard Thomas says it happened because of a security breach, but other members on the City Council say that's not the case.

"A dictatorship here in this city is not going to work," Councilman Andre Wallace said.

Wallace's key to enter City Hall after hours is useless after Thomas changed the locks over the weekend, claiming Wallace and another councilman were snooping around Friday night in the Planning Department office.

"They have no business being in there after dark, unsupervised, when City Hall is closed," Thomas said.

Wallace takes issue with that, citing the nature of the job.

"Hello, we're part time," he said. "We come after work. So we're there, supposed to be after hours. Our meetings are after hours. It's always 6 o'clock on."

The heart of the dispute might be traced back to the demolition of an abandoned house. The mayor has pledged to rid Mount Vernon of eyesores he's dubbed "zombie houses."

But on Friday, the council subpoenaed Thomas, claiming he has refused to answer how the demolition contract was awarded and how any possible asbestos was dealt with. Thomas is only two months into his term, but already there have been skirmishes with the City Council.

"We have to work as a team, and that's it," Wallace said. "You have to be a team player to make the agenda of the city more forward. And he thinks he's a one man show."

As for the snooping accusation, Wallace says he was simply retrieving personal items for the planning commissioner, who the mayor fired on Friday.

Thomas he says he's worried documents relating to HUD grants may have been taken from the office and that the rekeying is part of an overall security upgrade in and around City Hall.

"If they feel that they want to cling to the past and turn the clock back, that's their priority," he said. "My focus is keeping the public safe."
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politicspoliticsMount Vernon
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