Cronyism Alleged in East St. Louis

     EAST ST. LOUIS, Ill. (CN) – East St. Louis fired its city manager after he refused to grant an illegal contract to a political ally of several of the city’s board members, the former manager claims in Federal Court.
     Charles Means sued the City of East St. Louis. The city is the only named defendant, though several individuals are identified in the 4-page complaint.
     Means claims he had a 2-year employment contract with East St. Louis that its Board of Aldermen approved on Sept. 8, 2005.
     He says he was fired after city “Board Member Eddie Jackson demanded [a] demolition contract be awarded to Michael Collins despite the fact that Mr. Collins was not the winning bidder. …
     “On or about April 10, 2006 Dr. Means was terminated after refusing to award a contract to Michael Collins after Mr. Collins failed to meet the contract application deadline, and was the highest bidder on the contract.
     “Dr. Means was terminated in violation of the First Amendment of the Constitution when he failed to associate nor adhere to the prevailing political parties[‘] illegal directives.
     “Defendant breached the contract between it and Dr. Means by terminating Dr.
     Means and failing to pay the contractual severance pay.”
     When it fired him, the board claims that he failed to get the city’s financial documents in order and to the city’s Financial Advisory Authority in a timely manner, the St. Louis Business Journal reported in 2006. He was replaced by Robert Betts, who at the time of his appointment become the city’s fifth city manager in 16 months.
     Means seeks $88,338.25 for the balance of his contract. He is represented by Larry Fields of St. Louis.

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