SAUK VILLAGE | The Village Board passed an ordinance Tuesday night to eliminate the position of village manager effective Oct. 31, the end of the current fiscal year.
The vote was 4-0-1, with Trustee Enoch Benson refusing to vote. Trustees Rosie Williams, Ed Myers, David Hanks and Derrick Burgess all voted in favor of the motion.
Then, in a separate motion, the board voted to place Village Manager Henrietta Turner on paid leave for two weeks effective today. The vote was the same.
Village President Lewis Towers told the board that he did not see any purpose nor meaning in the actions, and questioned if there were racial undertones to the actions taken.
“Since Henrietta Turner would be on paid leave, this saves the village no money,” Towers said. “So is this a racist move?”
Turner is an African-American. So are Trustees Burgess and Williams. Hanks and Myers are white.
The trustees said that the decision was strictly a financial one for the village.
“We need to study the financial impact of having a full-time village manager on the village finances,” Hanks said. “The current village manager is being paid $90,000 plus benefits. There is a lot of doubt up here that we can afford the money.”
“This village must have a full-time person to handle the day-to-day operation of the village,” Towers said. “The work that our village manager did during the water crisis was incredible. The work she is doing now with the Illinois EPA and the Illinois attorney general must be done every day.”
Towers then defied the board motion and ordered Turner to be at her desk today at the normal time.
“Yes, sir,” Turner replied.
Benson suggested to Towers that he order the police chief to arrest anyone who interfered with Turner doing her job. Towers did not comment on the suggestion.
Myers said that legal action through the courts would be initialized if Turner showed up for work.
On Feb. 13, the Village Board voted to terminate Turner's contract. The board stated at that time that it was terminating her to offset the cost of Village President Lewis Towers’ decision to appoint Robert Fox as police chief.
On March 13, Towers vetoed the termination motion approved by the board. Towers then appointed Turner back to the position of village manager on a 30-day temporary appointment.
The two sides reached an out-of-court settlement on April 30 that stated the board majority would not attempt to eliminate the village manager position during the current fiscal year, and would not attempt to remover Turner from the job during the same timeframe.
Hanks and Myers said the new ordinance eliminates the position on Nov. 1, which is a new fiscal year.
Towers disagreed, saying that any motions or ordinances violate the agreement.
Hanks confirmed that the two sides appear to be headed back to court.
Turner was clearly upset by the motions.
“This is certainly not performance-based,” Turner said. “So if the action is not performance-based, that makes me wonder if it political, racial or gender-specific.”
Tuesday night’s action by the board and Towers is part of an ongoing legal and partisan battle between the village president and the board majority that opposes him.