Where is Mundelein Trustee Dakotah Norton?
Mundelein Trustee Dakotah Norton has missed so many consecutive village board meetings, officials are preparing to declare his seat abandoned.
Norton has skipped five straight sessions, including Monday's gathering. He last attended a board meeting March 27.
The board meets on the second and fourth Mondays of each month.
Norton also has been incommunicative with village hall, Mayor Steve Lentz said during Monday's meeting.
"Basically, there's an issue of abandonment of office," Lentz said.
Attempts by the Daily Herald to reach Norton via telephone, social media, text message and email Tuesday were unsuccessful.
Lentz said he's tried to reach Norton multiple times and in different ways. Earlier this month, he mailed Norton a letter saying officials would move to declare his seat vacant if he didn't attend Monday's meeting or communicate with village hall.
According to that letter, which was shared with the Daily Herald, Norton told Lentz he missed a May 8 board meeting because he was ill. He told Village Administrator John Lobaito on June 1 that he was attending a music festival in Texas, Lentz wrote.
Lentz said Norton responded with a text requesting the letter be sent to a personal email address. He said he's received no subsequent communication from Norton.
Under state law, municipal officials have the power to decide if a seat has been abandoned and is vacant.
Trustees voted 5-0 to ask the village staff to prepare a document that would declare Norton's seat vacant. The board will vote on that proposal when it next meets June 26.
If Norton attends that meeting, he will be given a chance to "make a case" for staying on the board, Lentz said. Trustees then can remove the proposal from the agenda or vote, he said.
If the board declares the seat vacant, it'll be up to Lentz and the board to appoint a replacement to finish Norton's term, which ends in spring 2019.
Despite being absent from village hall, Norton continues to be paid as a trustee, officials said. Trustees collect a $9,336 annual salary and are paid $778 at the beginning of each month, regardless of meeting or event attendance, according to the village's human resources department.
Board members sometimes miss meetings because of professional, health or personal issues, but they usually tell someone why they're absent, Mundelein Trustee Ray Semple said.
That's not been the case with Norton.
"We don't know what's going on," Semple said.
Norton, 27, has a history of troublesome behavior.
In June 2015, just a month after being sworn in as trustee, Norton was arrested in Vernon Hills and charged with drunken driving. He pleaded guilty, was fined and placed on court supervision for a year, among other penalties.
Norton also was arrested a few times as a teenager. Charges included possession of cannabis and manufacturing or delivering cannabis, possession of drug paraphernalia and retail theft.
He didn't mention those arrests during his 2015 campaign, despite specifically being asked about his criminal history as part of a Daily Herald questionnaire. Norton said he'd been arrested only for "a few minor teenage juvenile things."
In 2016, Trustee Dawn Abernathy accused Norton of "character assassination" after he criticized her on a Facebook page he's used to discuss village business.
Norton hasn't posted anything on that Facebook page since March 10. He hasn't posted anything on a different Facebook page since May 18.
However, on Tuesday evening, the profile picture on that second Facebook page was changed from Norton's photo to an image of the title character from the "Where's Waldo?" books. Likewise, the page's cover photo was changed to an image of cartoon and video game fugitive Carmen Sandiego.