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Photo by Nathan Grimm
Maj. Bradley Lavite’s mother, Sandra Doerr, addresses the crowd.
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Photo by Nathan Grimm
Madison County Treasurer Kurt Prenzler talks at the rally, watched by (from left) Lavite’s sister, Misty Biciocchi, and Doerr.
EDWARDSVILLE — Military veterans turned out in support of embattled Veterans’ Assistance Commission Superintendent Maj. Bradley Lavite at a rally outside the county’s administration building Friday.
Roughly 40 veterans of various military branches gathered outside the building where Lavite has been prohibited from entering for more than a year, touting signs reading “let Brad go back to work,” “support vets” and “my civil rights are important,” among others. A number of people were asked to speak at the gathering, which was organized in response to Lavite’s ongoing ban from the building after a post-traumatic stress disorder event at his Wood River home in March 2015.
Ron Williams, the Republican challenger to Madison County State’s Attorney Tom Gibbons in November’s election and an Army veteran, said the treatment of Lavite isn’t consistent with that of other individuals.
“Do you know who comes into this administration building every day? Every day, dozens of violent felons come into this building to go to probation, and nobody seems to care about that,” Williams said. “I just know — I can’t prove it, but I just know — that this is not about Brad and Brad coming back to work. This is about control of money. This is about control of hiring. This is about control, period.”
Lavite was restricted from the administration building, out of which the VAC operates, and other county property after the March 2015 event. County Administrator Joe Parente said last July that Lavite was banned because of concerns voiced by employees of the building that county officials say still haven’t been addressed.
Madison County Board Chairman Alan Dunstan, in a statement last week, said the issue is about “the safety of Madison County employees and the thousands of people who visit the Administration Building and Courthouse on a regular basis.
“When Mr. Lavite, who has continued to be paid while this matter is being addressed, has satisfied the requirements established by county officials — with the support of Madison County Board members — he will be welcomed,” Dunstan wrote.
The chairman said the county wants assurances from a doctor who has examined Lavite and the video from the March 2015 event that Lavite is not a safety risk.
Lavite has maintained that, since last year, he’s been cleared by his personal doctor to return to work.
County Board members Roger Alons, William Meyer, Michael “Doc” Holliday, Brad Maxwell, Steve Brazier and Joe Semanisin — three Republicans, three Democrats, and all military veterans — put out a release Thursday saying they support the county’s requests of Lavite before allowing him to return. But fellow County Board member Mick Madison, a Republican, said Friday that Lavite shouldn’t be barred from the building without first having his day in court.
“The court has not said it, just county leadership. They don’t have the authority to do that,” Madison said. “If this is how we treat people that have sacrificed so much for us, it’s a shame. It’s embarrassing.”
County Treasurer and Republican challenger for Madison County Board Chairman Kurt Prenzler, Lavite’s sister, Misty Biciocchi, and Lavite’s mother, Sandra Doerr, were among those who spoke Friday morning as well. Lavite was not in attendance.
The matter is playing out in court, with Lavite gaining a victory earlier this month after a judge in the Fifth District Appellate Court reversed a previous ruling by a Madison County judge that would have thrown out Lavite’s 2015 lawsuit brought against the county for their treatment of the situation. The case will now be heard in federal court.