If you thought the police chief dispute in Caseyville couldn't get any crazier, guess again. A quick recap for those without a scorecard: Mayor Leonard Black hired Jose Alvarez as police chief in September, then fired him on Feb. 12. The Village Board rehired him on Feb. 19. Then Black fired him again on Feb. 28 because of Alvarez's angry outburst at the Feb. 19 board meeting.
Alvarez this week got a temporary restraining order to keep his job, and he's chief again until at least the next Village Board meeting on March 19. A hearing is set for 10 a.m. today in front of St. Clair County Circuit Judge Stephen McGlynn.
Our advice to McGlynn: Don't get sucked any further into this mess. McGlynn's order states that Alvarez has a right to due process and to earn a living. But Caseyville officials were elected to decide who gets hired and fired in the village, not the court.
McGlynn's order also questions whether the village violated Alvarez's contract. Maybe Alvarez will argue that he should still be paid under the contract even if he's fired, but that's a separate issue for another time. Public safety, not a contract, needs to be the priority now.
It's important that the court stay out of the Alvarez situation because another sitting judge, the sheriff and state's attorney all wrote him glowing letters of recommendation. County politicians helped him land the job, but what happens next should be up to village leaders.