ESTLouis: A City For Sale

East St. Louis newly elected Mayor, Emeka Jackson-Hicks.

East St. Louis newly elected Mayor, Emeka Jackson-Hicks.

Citizens voted "no" but three council members voted "yes" to business as usual.

Citizens voted “no” but three council members voted “yes” to business as usual.

A dejected mayor;  a financially and emotionally strapped city; and finally what it means to be under taxation without representation. All the ingredients for a city on automatic pilot where “anything and everything” goes came to a head not behind closed doors but up front and personal in front of protesting citizens who saw and observed hold “cold hearted” politics can make strange bed fellows. In less than thirty minutes the special call city council meeting ended just like it started, under a cloud of suspicion and anger vented by more than 100 city residents who pack the council chamber.

Former Mayor Alvin Parks returned back to the seat of power as three council members voted to give the recently defeated mayor the job of City Manager ignoring the will of the newly elected mayor and the voices of the citizens who cried out. “Why are you firing her?” The council had just fired the newly appointed city manager, Traycee Chapman and voted to replace her with the former mayor, Alvin Parks. The former mayor reported he received a call the night before informing him of the plans to appointed him as city manager at the cost of $100,000 a year. Parks lost the election to Emeka Jackson-Hicks this past April as he failed to get the required number of signatures on his bid to be re-elected and the Illinois Supreme Court ruled him off of the official ballot. Parks made an efforts to become a “write-in” candidate but came up short for his bid fore-election.

Mayor Jackson-Hicks following up on her pledge for transparency, accountability and efficient governing reports dealing with a projected budget deficit of more than$5.7 million. With 30 days on the job, Chapman and the Mayor have been airing out he city’s finances in public, including more than 10 months of “towing fees” where there is no paper trail, the alleged $2.5 million that was to be loaned o the city by the Financial Advisory Authority, a loan that never was received but reportedly was made a part of the city’s budget and spent anyway. The Mayor also cited more tan $900,000 awarded by workmen compensations claims that allegedly was not made a part of the most recent budget. Former mayor Parks refuted this allegations and maintained the budget was balanced as he left office. Lay-off and new hires by Mayor Jackson-Hicks and Chapman fueled a political fire storm that continues to become more energized as effort to address the proposed budget deficit were being address.

“You have to hold these council members responsible,” Jackson-Hicks said after giving a passionate speech to the audience before the votes were called. “It is now or never.”  As the crowd expressed their displease louder and louder, the same three votes the former mayor Parks had before losing to Jackson-Hicks placed the political power by in the hands of Parks. Mayor Jackson-Hick has alleged financial mismanagement and even “criminal behavior” has occurred under former Mayor Parks’ administration. As new city manager, Parks can fire every one that Jackson-Hicks hired including the new chief, public safety director and others. He also can hire back all who were laid off and lay- off anyone that the current mayor has hired.

Mayor Jackson-Hicks has promised to move ahead by” restructuring, rejuvenating, rebuilding and revitalizing” city government. After three town hall meetings that were warmly received by the citizens and a cool special city council meeting that took the power away from the duly elected mayor maybe the words, “RECALL, recovery or rejoice” may be more appropriated.