SAUK VILLAGE | The night got off to a rocky start, and went downhill from there.
Before Village President Lewis Towers opened the special meeting to vote on eliminating the position of police chief, he demanded that Village Attorney Michael McGrath leave the board table.
The Village Board overrode Towers and called the special meeting to order.
The board then opened the meeting and approved an ordinance to eliminate the position of police chief in Sauk Village effective Nov. 1, the start of the new fiscal year.
The ordinance calls for the duties of the fire chief and the police chief into one position. That position will be the fire chief.
Trustees Rosie Williams, David Hanks, Ed Myers and Derrick Burgess voted in favor of the ordinance. Trustee Enoch Benson voted against it. Trustee Robert Chavez was absent. It was announced later that he had resigned.
Towers pounded his gavel throughout the tense meeting. It was unclear if his actions had any impact.
“This meeting has not been called to order,” Towers said repeatedly. “You are out of order.”
Towers stated in a news release that he fired the firm of Odelson & Sterk last week.
The law firm stated that Towers cannot terminate its contract without the approval of the board. The board voted to reinstate the law firm last week after Towers terminated them.
Trustee David Hanks said the decision was a financial one.
“There is no money for the position of police chief,” Hanks said.
Lawyers for both sides retreated to closed chambers after the meeting.
Police Chief Robert Fox has been in office since November. He was appointed by Towers over the objections of the majority of the village board.
“State statute says you have to have a police chief,” Fox said. “This is a continuation of the political ploy certain individuals have attempted since I took office. The judge ruled in my favor previously, and I am confident that the judge will rule in my favor again.”
Fox said he wanted to stay above the political fray.
“I intend to keep doing my job and protect and serve the people of Sauk Village,” Fox said. “The rest of this is for the courts to decide.”
Fire Chief Alan Stoffregen confirmed he has been approached by Village Attorney McGrath regarding the job combination.
“If I get the backing of the members of the Police Department, I will do everything I can to help them out,” Stoffregen said.