South Jacksonville village trustees voted to rescind a separation agreement for the village’s long-time police chief during a special meeting last night.
The retirement of Richard Evans was announced in April following a 2014 Illinois State Police report that, among other things, pointed out instances of alleged official misconduct against him.
The village board voted 4-2 to pass the separation agreement on May 7th, signed by Evans and outgoing Village President Gordon Jumper. That night’s agenda originally listed “police chief retirement” as an action item, but the agenda posted online as of last week read “Richard Evans retirement [package].”
After an hour-long closed session, the board voted 5-0 last night to reverse the decision. Mayor pro-tem Steve Waltrip says it was a tough decision for the board.
“We didn’t have any legal counsel to represent us to let the trustees know what’s really going on. It was brought to us in a pretty quick fashion. We should have been warned ahead of time what he’s going to do, and that wasn’t the case,” says Waltrip.
“Mr. Jumper typically does bring things to a vote the evening of the contract, and not knowing fully how we should have investigated or looked at it, we got some counsel to make a more informed decision.”
Waltrip explained that the agreement had been passed because it’s what was done in the past, with Trustee Mike Elliott adding it was “standard procedure.”
The separation agreement for Evans, exclusively obtained and published by WLDS-WEAI News, showed that the village agreed to pay Evans a sum of about $52-hundred, plus nearly $17-thousand in health insurance premiums, for a year-long period.
It also said legal counsel had reviewed the agreement, but Village Attorney Allen Yow confirmed no one at Rammelkamp-Bradney Law Firm had a chance to look at it.
Based on that and the fact that Evans voluntarily retired, residents who spoke during public comment renewed claims that the agreement was invalid and fraudulent.
Waltrip said trustees did get advice from attorney Dan Wright from Brown, Hay and Stephens LLP of Springfield during Thursday’s closed session.
“He was very thorough, we feel good and comfortable with his thought pattern and his presentation or the board wouldn’t have done that, wouldn’t have voted the way we did,” he says.
“I hate to, in retrospect, turn around and rescind the situation. It doesn’t look good for the actions of the board at that time, but it’s a legal, correct issue, the way we have to do it. [The separation agreement] couldn’t stand up in the court of law, is the legal advice we got,” Waltrip continues.
According to Village Clerk Dani Glascock, Allen Yow was not in closed session on April 2nd, May 7th or a portion of last night’s session- all of which have focused on Richard Evans in some way, shape or form.
Glascock says the village recently received word from Rammelkamp-Bradney that they have a conflict with personnel issues regarding Evans or former clerk Linda Douglass.
Waltrip says no alternative agreement for Evans was discussed and adds there aren’t currently any plans for a new one. Evans said in a previous statement he had originally planned on retiring in mid to late 2016 prior to the events of the last several months.
Trustee Sonie Smith was not present at the meeting, nor wasJumper.