East St. Louis mayor and city manager at odds over finances and layoffs

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EAST ST. LOUIS (KPLR) - Sunday politics in East St. Louis erupted into a power struggle between Mayor Emeka Jackson-Hicks and City Manager Alvin Parks. Mayor Jackson-Hick held a press conference early in the afternoon to discuss the state of the city’s finances and the recent layoffs announced by City Manager, and former Mayor Alvin Parks.

Jackson-Hick assailed Parks for making decisions about the finances and employee cuts solely by himself without consultations with the mayor, city council and representatives from the city’s fire and police departments. The mayor charged by doing so, Parks violated city policies and procedures and possibly opened the city to litigation from city employees, which happened in 2010, forcing the city to pay workers for back pay.

The mayor cited that she was unaware Parks was going to order layoffs for the city first responders at last week’s city council meeting, when she had requested a status update on the city’s finances. Jackson-Hick had warned shortly after being sworn-in mayor that city was facing a nearly $6 million budget deficit due to the drop in gaming revenue to East St. Louis. Face with that deficit, she stated layoffs would probably be coming.

During the press conference Jackson-Hicks also discussed the need for the city to move forward and that all parties needed to work together to provide the services the citizens of East St. Louis deserved.

Jackson-Hicks ended the press conference be announcing a series of 3 town hall meetings for September 13th, 14th and 15th to educate the public on how the East St. Louis government works, discussing the city’s finances and layoffs of city employees.

The city manager said he did not hear the mayor's news conference, but responded by saying difficult financial decisions had to be made for a variety of reasons.  He said casino revenue has dropped dramatically, and the city’s financial obligations have risen.   He says he’s known the mayor for a long time, and believes they have good working relationship.

“One of the things that I have definitely done a lot of and that is reaching out and letting the city council know I am receptive to their input,” said Parks.

The former mayor says he’s made it clear to the current mayor that her input is welcomed.

“I have been available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year,” Parks said.

Town Hall Meetings

Sunday, September 13, 2015, 4:00pm - 5:30pm at the Southern Mission Missionary Baptist Church located at 2803 State Street, East St. Louis, IL.

Monday, September 14, 2015, from 6:30pm -8:00pm at Straightway Missionary Baptist Church located at 3300 Bond Ave., East. St. Louis, IL.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015, from 6:30pm - 8:00pm at Pilgrim Missionary Baptist Church located at 1121 Dr. M R Lemons Blvd., East St. Louis, IL.

Jackson-Hicks Alvin Parks