Alicia Beck should explain her string of absences.

The most controversial member of the Champaign City Council has morphed into the most mysterious member.

Alicia Beck, who represents District 2, hasn’t attended a council meeting since May 17.

What’s up?

No one associated with the city either can or will say.

Indeed, no one with the city even acknowledges any duty to let the public in on the big secret.

A spokesman for City Manager Dorothy David and Mayor Deb Feinen suggests it’s solely up to Beck to explain her absences. But Beck isn’t saying anything.

In light of Beck’s reticence, someone from the city — like the city manager or the mayor — has an obligation to explain what’s going on. Their desire to avoid the subject is understandable but unacceptable.

There are, of course, valid reasons why council members miss meetings. Perfect attendance is not required, because life sometimes gets in the way.

People have health problems. They have children who need their attention more than the city. The public understands those kinds of personal and family complications.

At the same time, it would be naive to ignore the trouble Beck made for herself earlier this year when she stuck her foot in her mouth.

A Champaign couple whose University Avenue neighborhood was the scene of an extended gunfight showed up at a council meeting to express their concerns over public safety.

Beck lambasted the couple for not having attended earlier meetings when other neighborhoods were the locations of gunfire and told them not to come back. That idiocy was compounded when another council member — Michael Foellmer, who represents District 4, where the couple lives — said he agreed with Beck.

The remarks did not go down well with the public. A group of citizens showed up at a subsequent council meeting to condemn Beck’s remarks.

So is that the problem — Beck can dish out the harsh language but resents any pushback?

The public would like to know what’s going on here. Someone in the know should explain the situation — ideally, Beck herself, or the mayor and/or city manager. Beck is a public official, and there’s no excuse for her lack of accountability.

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