A former Village of South Jacksonville trustee has released the reasoning for resigning from the village board. The reasons come in the wake of the Village Board refusing to hold quorum at their monthly business meeting Thursday night. Only trustees Tom Jordan and Stacey Pinkerton appeared at the meeting along with the Village’s Department heads. Village Attorney Rob Cross told those in attendance that only non-actionable items could be discussed. The meeting was adjourned after less than 10 minutes of brief reports.
Todd Warrick says in a 6-page letter that he wants no part of the current administration of Tyson Manker. Warrick accuses Manker of threatening the trustees for not working with him on village business, being verbally abusive, and removing him from previous committee assignments: “It’s the threats that he has had against the trustees. I’m not going to put up with that. I’m not going to work with someone like that.”
Manker says the accusations are untrue except for the reassignment of committees: “The only thing that was true [in the letter] is that I removed him from the Public Safety Committee because he has shown a history of abuse towards Richard Evans, Jr. my Fire Chief and his fiancee, including a situation last year where he accosted her in the parking lot of Village Hall and cursed at her. I didn’t think it was appropriate to put him in charge of the Public Safety Committee because of his character flaws. At the committee of the whole meeting when I handed these committee [assignments] out, he very unprofessionally got up in the middle of the meeting without saying a word and left. Then, subsequently, he tendered his resignation.”
Warrick cites in the letter that Manker gaveled down questions levied by he and Trustee Jason Hill at their May 6th business meeting on an ordinance the board had previously passed requiring village trustees to approve any executive appointments made by the Village President or Mayor. Manker vetoed the ordinance saying it was unconstitutional according to Illinois Municipal Code, which says that a Village President or Mayor may make appointments without approval of the board. Warrick says he followed up with Manker via text message after the May 6th meeting trying to encourage consensus among the board and Manker. Warrick says the attempt was unsuccessful by showing a screenshot of a text message in which Manker said he would “skewer” members in public for acting like Hill for questioning him or acting out in public meetings. Warrick says that Manker’s text messages are available via FOIA request.
Warrick goes on in his letter to cite a verbal confrontation at Village Hill that occurred between Hill and Manker on May 10th in which the Village Police filed a report. Manker said in a public email today that the altercation was an attempt by Hill to goad him into a physical altercation by following him to his car and what Manker characterized as “illegal eavesdropping.” Manker called the reference to the incident unnecessary and a further distraction to village business. Warrick says otherwise: “[Manker] and Jason Hill had some words and he said some things to Jason that was very unethical, called him names, and I didn’t agree with that. Here at the village, we have worked hard on racial equity and inclusion, and I feel like we are taking a step backwards on [these issues].”
Manker later dropped the complaint against Hill with Village Police Chief Eric Hansell. Morgan County State’s Attorney Gray Noll said after review of the police report that there is insufficient evidence of any crime occurring that would constitute alleged disorderly conduct or alleged official misconduct.
Manker says the only other thing true that he saw in Warrick’s letter was an incident in which he locked Village Trustees out of Village Hall after standard business hours: “Due to a security breach from one of the trustees, I removed access to Village Hall and instructed the trustees that henceforth, they would have to enter the building like the general public because those are our offices. The trustees come up there once a month to have the village board meeting and the building is open at that time. There is no reason they should be in the building as happened with the security incident that I speak of where several laws were broken by one individual. We didn’t let that derail our operations, which again, they are trying to do now, which is really sad. We have just enhanced our operations as a result of this. We are not going to let individuals be distractions in moving the Village forward. I can assure you that.”
Warrick says he was extremely unhappy about being removed from the Public Protection Committee and the Parks & Tourism Committee with the village. Warrick namely took exception to Trustee Stacey Pinkerton being named to the Parks & Tourism Committee due to a prior incident at Pinkerton’s business. In 2019, Pinkerton was accused of being racist after a Facebook post about a Spanish-speaker coming to her business was circulated. Pinkerton later issued a written, public apology for the post. Manker believes that the incident was overblown: “[The incident in question] is not an issue. Quite frankly, we need to move forward. There was a whole lot of nothing made out of what was basically an innocuous statement made by Trustee Pinkerton. I stand with Trustee Pinkerton, and I have nothing but faith in the job and the commitment she has to the people of South Jacksonville. She showed up to the meeting Thursday night. We should be talking to the individuals that gave the people of the Village of South Jacksonville the middle finger Thursday night, and asking them if they are committed to doing the job they were sent to do.”
Three of the current village trustees signed a written statement Thursday night saying they will not conduct further village business unless certain village officials and trustees complete Illinois Municipal League training. Warrick also signed on to the statement. Manker says that the IML training is a recommendation from Village Attorney Rob Cross and is not mandatory. Manker says that the training is scheduled to be held with a mediator in two weeks at Village Hall. Village Trustee Paula Belobradjic-Stewart said Thursday night via email that the trustees who signed onto the statement would not be releasing any further comments on the statement.
Manker says he doesn’t see how the three trustees have any negotiating power in the situation: “We are not negotiating here to do the job that we swore an oath to uphold and defend the Constitution of the State of Illinois and to do their jobs as required by law. The idea that they have some negotiating power whether or not they are going to come and not violate their oath, I think is just atrocious and embarrassing. The people of South Jacksonville deserve better. I look forward to talking about things that matter.” Manker says he’s been especially impressed with the dedication and work of his department heads during his brief tenure in office.
Warrick’s resignation was not officially accepted by the board Thursday night due to the lack of the meeting. Warrick is slated to officially be replaced as a Village Trustee by Manker’s appointee, John D. Stewart, at the next official village business meeting.