New Mayoral Order About Pledge of Allegiance, Hansell Employment to Lead VOSJ Special Meeting

By Benjamin Cox on August 9, 2021 at 1:40pm

An exchange between a village trustee and the village mayor has led to a new decree being signed in South Jacksonville.

Village Trustee Tom Jordan called Mayor Tyson Manker into question this past Thursday during approval of the Village of South Jacksonville’s July minutes. Jordan pointed out that the July minutes had Manker leading the Pledge of Allegiance during four meetings in the month. The question began a fiery exchange:

Jordan: “I’m just going to point something out here.”
Manker: “By all means, take the floor, Tom.”
Jordan: “Okay, alright. In these minutes that we have copies of here. [They say] the Pledge of Allegiance was led by Mayor Manker. You have never led a meeting with the Pledge of Allegiance in here and it’s never been on the agenda, and I wonder why that is.
Manker: “Why do you think, Tom? Do you think it’s because I’m unpatriotic?”
Jordan: “I just think it’s strange that you don’t lead…start the meeting with the Pledge of Allegiance. Can you explain that?”
Manker: “Okay. Thanks for that.”
Jordan: “Could you explain why?”
Manker: “I’d be glad to. It’s because when I was 19, I served in the United State Marine Corps overseas. I watched friends die. I watched blood bleed on soil…I bleed red, white, and blue.”

Manker went on to receive comments from the floor questioning why he wouldn’t begin the meetings with the Pledge of Allegiance or directly answer Jordan’s question. Jordan went on to say he wasn’t questioning Manker’s service, but was “befuddled” why Manker wouldn’t lead a meeting with the Pledge of Allegiance.

Manker retorted: “What befuddles me is why you haven’t asked me this question before this moment in front of everyone, to score points.”

Trustee Stacy Pinkerton interjected into the ongoing exchange saying that she had asked Manker multiple times why he hadn’t had the pledge recited.

Manker responded: “Why do we not have the Pledge of Allegiance? Because we are conducting business meetings that are supposed to be short and sweet. We are raising a 120-foot flag next month.”

On Saturday, Manker issued Mayoral Order 02-2021 “at the request of several local citizens and with the appeal of generating patriot spirits” aying that “henceforth the Pledge of Allegiance to the United States shall be included on every Agenda and recited at the beginning of all business meetings in the Village of South Jacksonville.”

The order will lead off tonight’s Special Session meeting under the Mayor’s Report. The second item is Manker re-appointing of Eric Hansell as the Village’s Chief of Police at 5:45PM. Hansell was terminated on Monday by Manker. Reasons for the termination have not been issued by Manker. In emails and statements gathered by WLDS, Manker and Hansell have exchanged alleged allegations of insubordination, an incident of alleged misconduct in which Hansell assisted a now-terminated Village employee surrounding a DUI, and an allegation of sexual harassment. The Village has not issued public statements on Hansell’s ouster and now reappointment.

The original agenda sent out on Friday was set to have the board overturn Manker’s action of terminating Hansell after a scheduled executive session at 6PM. The agenda was amended and re-posted on Saturday afternoon with the additions of the Mayor’s Pledge of Allegiance Proclamation and Hansell’s appointment to his former post. The meeting is set tonight in person for Village Hall on Dewey Drive at 5:45PM.

UPDATE: We have been notified that there are two meetings tonight. The first being the 5:45PM meeting set to appoint Eric Hansell as Village Police Chief and go over the Mayoral Order. The second meeting is set for 6PM and contains the Executive Session to decide whether Hansell’s termination should be overturned, with a public action item.