- Associated Press - Friday, August 21, 2015

EAST ST. LOUIS, Ill. (AP) - A former East St. Louis mayor defeated in his April re-election bid has now been hired as city manager at an annual salary of $100,000, twice his mayoral pay, as his successor says the municipal government faces a nearly $6 million budget shortfall.

The unexpected return of Alvin Parks Jr. to East St. Louis City Hall was approved in a 3-2 City Council vote Thursday night, amid audience chants of “No Alvin Parks.” He replaces fired City Manager Traycee Chapman, who had relocated from Colorado and been on the job for just one month after new Mayor Emeka Jackson-Hicks ousted the previous city manager.

“Just when we thought we were trying to turn the corner and do things differently, they do this,” resident Marie Franklin told the Belleville News-Democrat. “Alvin Parks had eight years. He left this city looking like an abandoned Third World country.”

Parks could not immediately be reached for comment Friday. A spokeswoman for Jackson-Hicks said she would respond “once she learns what moves he’s making with those she hired” after the new city manager meets with city department heads Friday afternoon.

The divided council vote came four days after Jackson-Hicks told residents at the first of three consecutive nightly town hall meetings to prepare for widespread layoffs of public employees, including police officers and firefighters, as East St. Louis faces a $5.7 million budget deficit fueled by dramatically declining tax revenue from the Casino Queen, which accounts for more than 40 percent of the city budget, its largest source of income.

She said her initial review of city finances after taking office revealed waste and abuse, and perhaps worse.

Also this week, the city named 19-year department veteran Michael Hubbard as its new police chief - its 13th since 2005.

Two of those police chiefs spent time in federal prison - one for shielding a politically connected businessman from a criminal probe by hiding a gun, the other for stealing video game consoles from a car while on duty as chief of nearby Alorton.

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