Official complaint filed against South Jacksonville officials

By Gary Scott on April 3, 2015 at 4:30am

One of the speakers during last night’s South Jacksonville meeting presented the village board of trustees with an official citizens’ ethics complaint.

Attorney Tyson Manker filed the complaint to the village board against Village President Gordon Jumper, Village Treasurer Linda Douglass, and Police Chief Richard Evans, citing information from the Illinois State Police report that was the basis for a recent WLDS-WEAI News investigative story.

The complaint is on behalf of Manker and the hundreds of residents who have signed a petition calling for the resignations of all three individuals. It calls for a three-member panel comprised of village trustees to review the complaint.

The document was filed prior to Richard Evans announcing his retirement late last night, but Manker is still pushing for Jumper and Douglass to step down.

“If they fail to do so, it will cost thousands of dollars more in legal fees to continue to uncover wrongdoing that is already on the public record,” he says. “If you respect the citizens of the village that you’re supposed to represent, you will resign immediately. If you do not, petitioners respectfully request that the board of trustees open an immediate investigation into these allegations.”

These were Gordon Jumper’s comments to the public following last night’s executive session:

“We’ve reviewed the ISP report, and we’ve determined at this point that there is more investigation needed and we are in fact going to review the matter further,” Jumper stated.

A person in attendance asked, “Will any of you be put on suspension while you’re reviewing matters?”

Jumper responded, “Disciplinary actions are a function that we have to be pretty careful about. We’re going to make sure that we proceed with disciplinary actions in the appropriate fashion. So, at this point, we’re not going to make any other disciplinary actions until we are certain of the manner in which we should proceed.”

The complaint accuses Jumper of prohibited ethics violations and gift ban violations by allowing Linda Douglass to make copies of flyers advertising her re-election campaign while she was the village clerk, and authorizing a $1,500 loan for Douglass to pay off an outstanding water bill.

It also accuses Jumper of federal violations for authorizing Douglass to open new village clerk Dani Glascock’s mail, failing to enforce village ordinance by not enforcing water shutoffs for massively delinquent accounts, and allowing payment plans for customers that were thousands of dollars behind.

Manker’s complaint says Jumper failed to prevent internal theft, citing an auditor statement in the 2014 state police report that “twenty to thirty thousand dollars would not materially impact the financial statements of the village”, and that Jumper has never implemented safeguards for the purpose of theft prevention.

Manker also points out widespread abuse and theft of the village petty cash fund.

The same complaints are spelled out against Douglass. He points out that she used a village credit card for personal purchases without authorization in “at least one proven instance.”

Manker also accuses Douglass of disorderly conduct for calling the police on him last Friday when he showed up at Village Hall to use the Village Hall copier for the purpose of making copies of flyers for last night’s village trustee meeting.

Manker’s complaint touches on the allegations against Richard Evans that we’ve already mentioned. It also accuses Evans of fraudulent certifications for and personal use of the LEADS system, which the police department uses as an information database.

Manker says those actions could result in an immediate suspension of SJPD access to the service, according to state law.

“After reading through the state report several dozen times, it’s difficult to understand why criminal charges haven’t been filed against individuals who appear to have broken the law time and time again with indiscretion. We citizens would not get that benefit of the doubt if we were breaking similar laws,” claims Manker.

“The numerous allegations mentioned in this ethics complaint show that Mayor Gordon Jumper, Linda Douglass, and Richard Evans have all intentionally or recklessly failed to perform their duties as required by law, and have knowingly performed acts they know are forbidden by law.”

Evans, who as we mentioned, announced he’ll retire next month, did not address the alleged improper LEADS certification or use in his statement.

The complaint also faults Jumper for allowing Concert in the Cornfield event chairman Sheila Meyers, a village volunteer, to sign contracts on behalf of the village instead of a village official or employee.

Manker is asking that Rammelkamp Bradney Law Firm, of which Village Attorney Allen Yow is a member, to recuse itself in the defense of the three individuals accused in the complaint.

Village Ethics Complaint