Whatever progress had been forged by President Frank Paris and Trustee Steve Hoke the past several months was obliterated in multiple flurries of acrimony and accusations during Monday night’s River Forest village board meeting.

For 3½ hours the board, with Trustee Russ Nummer stranded in Europe, struggled to work its way through its longest agenda in recent memory. One heated argument after another devolved into outright animosity as Paris sparred repeatedly with Trustees Steve Hoke and Steve Dudek.

The battles began with the trustee comment period and didn’t end until the meeting adjourned at around 11 p.m.

Asked if the meeting was over, Village Attorney Lance Malina replied, “It’s effectively abandoned.”

In between the verbal spats and procedural tussles, the board passed the 2008 tax levy by a 3-2 vote, passed a water rate hike by the same divided vote, approved three bond issues and approved planned developments involving a renovated or rebuilt McDonald’s on Harlem Avenue and Community Bank’s renovation of the east end of the historic Drummond Building on Lake Street.

Trustee Susan Conti then motioned to limit debate on the levy to three minutes, which passed 3-2 with Hoke and Dudek opposed.

Hoke accused trustees of setting the village up for a future tax hike and criticized what he said was a lack of effort to cut expenses.

But while board members disagreed on policy, it was repeated references to alleged threats made at a private meeting between Hoke and Paris, and demands by Dudek that Paris discuss his financial ties to Amalgamated Bank that triggered major fireworks.

Any debate, however limited, fell apart after Paris made mention of alleged threats by Hoke and himself. The comments reportedly referenced a private meeting between the two men on Nov. 23.

Until that time, both men had been operating on a fragile truce,working to forge agreement on specific issues. The approach had worked with the replacement of Police chief Nicholas Weiss and the selection of his replacement, Frank Limon.

But no more.

“You run around worried about personal attacks made on you and your family, and you don’t do the work of the village on the budget,” Paris told Hoke during the levy debate.

Hoke’s body language and tone of voice changed after that, as he attacked Paris for bringing up his family in public, and alluded to threats recently made.

 “I have reported the fact that President Paris threatened me to the village attorney and village administrator,” said Hoke.

“I wouldn’t get into that; you’ll be sorry,” Paris replied.

The second from the last agenda item addressed the issue of whether Paris fully and accurately disclosed his economic interests in the clout-heavy Amalgamated Bank of Chicago. That bank is a sister bank of Oak Brook Bank, which Paris helped found. Amalgamated has been listed as a vendor in numerous village bond issues.

When Dudek attempted to explain his reasoning for placing the issue on the agenda, Paris interrupted, saying, “Is this another personal attack?”

No, said Dudek, who reminded trustees of a meeting earlier in the year in which Ed Hanrahan brought up Paris’ alleged ownership of Amalgamated.

“At the time he asked those questions, he was called, I believe, a murderer and a drunk,” said Dudek. “I don’t believe that question was ever answered to anyone’s satisfaction.”

Paris began a string of interruptions, calling Dudek’s question inappropriate and intended to embrass him.

“Will you stop?” said Dudek.

“No,” Paris replied.

“Would … you…stop,” Dudek repeated.

“No!” Paris snapped. “Trustee Dudek, you have no right to ask that question. You have no right and I refuse to answer it.”

“So I followed up on it,” Dudek said, noting he sent a request to the village administrator, “asking him to inquire of the president asking him if he had an ownership interest in the banks, and over what period of time, and I also asked another question, which had to do with whether or not he’d been a business partner or had an ownership interest in any businesses with Richard Smith.”

“I’m going to call an end to this now, because I’m not going to accept this. I’m going to adjourn the meeting,” Paris replied angrily. “I’m not going to allow an attack on me or anybody else,” said Paris.

“President Paris is refusing to respond to the question,” Hoke said in a low voice, “as to whether he owns $5,000 of stock in Amalgamated in any year during the past 15 years. And Trustee O’Brien and Trustee Dillon have both provided political cover for him so he doesn’t have to answer that question.”

“You’re not going to talk about a private citizen in this board room,” O’Brien said angrily as Conti also protested. “You’re not going to denigrate his name in front of this panel.”

When Paris repeated his assertion that Dudek had no right to ask him about Amalgamated and Richard Smith, Hoke replied, “A simple ‘no’ would suffice.”

“I think it’s going to have to go to somebody else to find out,” said Dudek.

Tuesday morning Susan Conti expressed growing embarrassment and frustration at the state of affairs on the board, noting that people from both McDonald’s and Community Bank were in the audience for nearly three hours.

“It’s absolutely beyond humiliating,” she said. “We have some very serious budget issues to address. If we can’t have a dialogue, we’re going to be static.”

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