Mayor fires economic development director

Yazell termination comes after disagreement with Langfelder

Springfield Mayor Jim Langfelder has terminated Val Yazell, the city's economic development director.

Yazell confirmed that she was terminated Thursday afternoon. She said that she had no immediate comment. Langfelder could not be immediately reached.

Yazell had been paid $105,919 per year. She had recently clashed with Langfelder over funding for repairs to a building for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People on 11th Street. After the city council last fall refused to spend $150,000 in federal block grants on the building, with council members expressing concerns about a lack of bids, Langfelder in January told Yazell to sign off on paperwork to allow a lesser amount in federal money for repairs that already had been accomplished. She refused, saying that the plan to spend $45,000 on work that already had been done might not comply with federal regulations.


"I would be negligent in my duties by trying to make this work," Yazell wrote in a Jan. 29 email to Langfelder and corporation counsel Jim Zerkle. "All
work was completed without following the rules every other applicant for CDBG (community development block grant) funding has followed." Early this month, the NAACP received nearly $45,000, below the threshold requiring council approval, with the money coming from the city, as opposed to federal coffers.

The mayor in 2019 torpedoed a plan for a homeless shelter on 11th Street that had been put together in part by Yazell. The mayor's withdrawal of support came late, when the city council was preparing to vote on the proposal that didn't go forward after Langfelder expressed concerns about the project's location.

Contact Bruce Rushton at brushton@illinoistimes.com.

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