Editorials

Awaiting first East St. Louis city manager of 2016

Alvin Parks Jr. was ousted as city manager in 2005, as mayor in 2015 and as city manager again this week. He’s been a city council member and school district business administrator. Where will Parks next land?
Alvin Parks Jr. was ousted as city manager in 2005, as mayor in 2015 and as city manager again this week. He’s been a city council member and school district business administrator. Where will Parks next land? dholtmann@bnd.com

Should old city managers be forgot, and never brought to mind? Until we pay their contracts off, we’ll be broke for a long, long time.

Yes, friends, another year is passing, and with it, another East St. Louis city manager. We all grow sentimental thinking of the long list of managers who have gone on to a better place, taking their payouts with them for the job city leaders belatedly decided they were unfit.

So adieu, Alvin Parks. After four months you join the long march out the front door of City Hall. Maybe in life after manager you’ll see Traycee Chapman, Deletra Hudson, Robert Betts, Charles Means, Tina Phillips, yourself (from 2005 before becoming mayor), Robert Storman, Harvey Henderson, Curtis Galloway (twice), Edward Badgett, Lee Coleman, LaMar Gentry, Ishaq Shafiq, Ellis Mitchell and Wallace Carson.

There are few tears being shed for Alvin. Voters booted him as mayor and then City Council members put him back in as city manager to save their corrupt status quo and halt reforms by new Mayor Emeka Jackson-Hicks and her city manager, Chapman.

One could speculate about the gears that turned to rid East St. Louis of Parks, but he’s gone and Jackson-Hicks is predicting progress ahead. That would be lovely, and it will be interesting to see where Parks resurfaces — city, state, county or school district.

New interim city manager Edith Moore would be wise if she didn’t get too comfortable in that office chair. With the name on the door changing 18 times since East St. Louis instituted a city manager in 1991, the job is about as unstable as the city’s finances — currently nearly $6 million in the red.

Which points out the real trouble: Someone with a steady hand needs to be at the wheel to steer between the money pits and the political hazards. There likely will be a 19th city manager, so there needs to be a legitimate city manager search and a commitment from the City Council to quit playing political games with a position that directly impacts residents’ daily lives, the city’s economy and this region’s well being.

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