Manker Releases Audio From Aug. 17 Village of South Jacksonville Executive Session Discussing Having Him Evaluated For ISP Threat Assessment

By Benjamin Cox on August 25, 2021 at 9:28am

A village official in South Jacksonville may have broken confidentiality on closed session provisions in the Illinois Compiled Statutes.

Village Mayor Tyson Manker, on his personal Facebook page last night, allegedly leaked portions of an executive session held by the Village Board of Trustees on August 17th surrounding personnel in the village. Manker claimed in the post on his page posted at approximately 9:22 last night that Trustee Paula Belobradjic-Stewart and recently reinstated Village Police Chief Eric Hansell were conspiring against him by suspending his access to Village Hall during his recent mental health break.

On the portion of released and edited audio, Hansell voices a concern about Manker’s mental health possibly causing issues. Hansell cites a conversation that he had with Manker after the May 10th incident at Village Hall with former trustee Jason Hill. Manker, according to the conversation which is documented in Village email, asked Hansell if he could bring a firearm to Village Hall to protect himself because he feared for his personal safety. Hansell denied the request at the time, telling Manker under no circumstances could anyone other than law enforcement carry a firearm at Village Hall.

Hansell speaks during the closed session in a portion of the audio released last night:

So one of my concerns is with Mayor Manker’s mental health absence, his taking a leave of absence for his mental health. In comments that were made to me via email and in person, it would be my recommendation that his access to the building be temporarily suspended until things are clarified.

Anytime we’ve had an employee previously that is out for a mental health issue or has made statements that would put anybody at risk we would do a threat assessment. It would be no different than a student at a school doing, you know, making statements I want to bring a gun to school and shoot somebody or something like that.

We would do a threat assessment on that person, but then with him (Manker) being out, I think that his access should be temporarily suspended.”

Belobradjic-Stewart can be heard asking Hansell how a threat assessment would be done. Hansell says he would have to contact the Illinois State Police for an adult threat assessment as his department only has a threat assessment that can used for school children.

Trustee Stacy Pinkerton and Hansell both cited on the recording that Manker showed symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder related to his military service in Iraq.

WLDS News was present for the meeting and can verify that at the time the Board went into closed session, the only recorder visible was the audio recorder being used by Village Clerk Amy Scoggins.

By disseminating the tape to the public without prior approval of the Village Board, Manker appears to be in violation of the Illinois Compiled Statutes regulating the Open Meetings Act when it comes to confidentiality of closed sessions for verbatim records.

The regulation can be found under 5 ILCS 120/2.06 subsections E and F which says “No verbatim recordings shall be recorded or removed from the public body’s main office or official storage location, except by vote of the public body or by court order.” Minutes for public meetings are set in statute to be approved after 30 days with executive session given a timeline of approval on at least a semi-annual basis so that all information in closed session need no longer be confidential.