Village president’s final South Jax meeting is another noisy one

By Gary Scott on June 5, 2015 at 12:01am

Despite at times loud protesting, South Jacksonville’s outgoing village president vetoed action by the village board regarding a separation agreement for the village’s retired police chief last night.

Gordon Jumper’s action followed a 5-0 vote by trustees on May 28th to rescind the agreement for Richard Evans, which was originally passed with a 4-2 vote on May 7th.

Jumper explained that the veto was to prevent liability against the village based on the Employee Retirement Income Security Act and the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act.

“The objection is based on the concern that treating similarly situated employees in a disparate manner, as to the condition of employment, is inappropriate and may in fact be a violation of federal law,” says Jumper.

However, attorney Dan Wright of Brown, Hay and Stephens, whose services have been used by the village for the last several meetings in addition to Village Attorney Allen Yow, reiterated his position that the separation agreement was unconstitutional. Village resident Tyson Manker pointed that out to Jumper.

“So after legal advise that it is unenforceable you still want to go through with the veto,” questioned Manker.

“Yes,” responded Jumper.

“You resigned to save the village money and yet you are going to cost the village money,” a village resident in attendance pointed out.

The issue was first introduced during the normally uneventful Treasurer’s Report for the village. Several trustees questioned whether paychecks for Evans were included in the approval of payables.

According to Jumper, a check for Evans, worth just over $5,200, was included in the report and had apparently already been cashed by Evans before trustees had a chance to approve the action. The check included vacation time and sick pay.

Here’s Jumper talking about the matter with members of the audience.

Resident: “You and Linda [Douglass] both signed this check on Wednesday, the same day that the trustees submitted their agenda for the Thursday meeting, according to the Open Meetings Act. You knew that they were going to discuss this and you cut the check anyways?”

Jumper: “Yes.”

“So basically you just spit in the face of the trustees,” said another resident in attendance.

Trustee Sonnie Smith was not present for the vote last week and was the only trustee who voted against the rest of the trustees’ amended motion to approve the May payables, without the check to Evans.

According to Wright, trustees can override Jumper’s veto at the next regularly-scheduled meeting on July 2nd. He advised that the board should evaluate its rights in terms of recovery of the money, which he said could include filing a lawsuit. Trustee Kem Wilson reacted after the meeting.

“That’s illegal because we rescinded the whole thing. Honestly we need to look at litigation and talk to the attorneys about this,” says Wilson.

“It is a sign of the way Gordon Jumper has been presiding over the government of South Jacksonville for many years. There is no transparency or accountability. It is all cloak and dagger with what Gordon says and does.”

This was Jumper’s last scheduled board meeting. The final action for the night was appointing an acting village president to take over for Jumper, effective June 21st. Trustees nominated and approved Steve Waltrip for the position.

For a short time, it appeared a vote for the zoning and annexation of the property at 1721 Orlando would be pushed back until the July board meeting. Jumper questioned the agreement and Village Attorney Allen Yow highlighted some of the problems with the legal wording of the agreement.

Eventually, trustees agreed to move forward with the vote and it was unanimously approved.

The future of the Concert in the Cornfield was also discussed last night. We’ll have more on that this afternoon.

Resignations of building inspector Wilbur German, Plans Commission member Jim Pate, and accounts payable clerk Cara Zulauf were accepted.

Ryne Turke also contributed to this report.