East St. Louis started 2016 under new management. Longtime city employee Edith Moore became the Metro East city’s fourth city manager in six months on the Monday after Christmas.
While the position is temporary, Moore wasted no time taking action. She notified seven city employees last week that they were being laid off.
“We’re trying to trim the budget wherever we can whenever we can,” Moore said, noting that the city has been letting staff go for several months in an attempt to reduce a nearly $6 million budget deficit. “It will continue.”
This latest round of layoffs brings the total to 23 confirmed layoffs and the elimination of at least one position in the last four months. The number of layoffs bumps up to 24 if you include the city council’s decision to fire Alvin Parks Jr. as city manager.
According to the Belleville-News Democrat, public works director Roy Mosley Jr. is one of the seven employees losing a job. But Moore declined to confirm that detail to St. Louis Public Radio on Monday.
When asked for more information about the layoffs, including why she chose those seven positions, Moore said “we laid off where we needed to layoff. Personnel issues are of course issues I can’t publicly talk about.”
Roy Mosley Jr. is the son of East St. Louis Councilman Roy Mosley Sr. After being removed as public works director in July, Mosley Jr. regained the position under former city manager Alvin Parks in the fall. Parks was hired as city manager in August with Mosley Sr.’s support.
Parks started 2015 as the mayor of East St. Louis, but lost the election in April and was replaced by Emeka Jackson-Hicks. In August Councilman Mosley, Councilwoman LaToya Greenwood and Councilman Robert Eastern III voted to hire Parks as city manager over the objections of Jackson-Hicks.
Then on Dec. 28 Eastern changed his mind, joining the mayor and Councilwoman June Hamilton-Dean in voting to oust Parks.
“(The mayor and I) wanted to get on the same page now. I just want to make sure she gets her vision through for the city,” said Eastern Monday when asked about the switch in votes.
“I was always with the mayor. We just had … you know you try to give a person another chance to rectify some wrongs and it just didn’t work out as we had planned. So we decided to go in a different direction,” Eastern added.
The timespan of Edith Moore’s tenure as interim city manager is unknown at the moment. But Mayor Jackson-Hicks said Monday the city council wants a “fairly quick turnaround.”
“One thing we do realize at this point is stabilizing the city is very important. This is what the citizens are concerned about. This is what external parties that hope to do business in East St. Louis are concerned about,” Jackson-Hicks said.
Jackson-Hicks said she’s personally looking for a city manager who is “effective and efficient” and “respected on a federal, state and local level.”
Because Parks was fired during a special city council meeting instead of a regularly scheduled meeting, state law requires 48 hour-notice to the public. The public notice went out on Christmas Eve.
Jackson-Hicks, who promised transparency when she was elected mayor, said the council was not trying to hide anything by scheduling the vote at that time.
“There was no real significance in it being Christmas Eve or close to the holiday,” Jackson-Hicks said. “Just the fact that it was a move that needed to be made. And (neither) the city nor the citizens could afford to wait any longer.”
According to the city clerk’s office, the public notice was posted on Christmas Eve after the employee who emails out meeting notifications had gone home. Illinois’ open meeting law only requires the notice to be posted at city hall.
Follow Camille Phillips on Twitter @cmpcamille.