Cairo city council members to go another month without paychecks

Sunday, February 5, 2006

CAIRO, Ill. -- City council members fighting with Mayor Paul Farris will go another month without paychecks.

Council members Bobby Whitaker and Elbert "Bo" Purchase said Saturday that they have been told they will not be paid their $600 monthly salary for February.

Farris withheld their January checks after Whitaker, Purchase, Linda Jackson and Sandra Tarver announced in late December that they would boycott regular city council meetings. They changed their minds soon after, however, and have attended the last three regular meetings.

At the time, Farris said the paychecks were being stopped because he believed the four had abandoned their posts.

In reply, the four have filed a small claims lawsuit against Farris and the city. A summons has been served on Farris, Whitaker said, but no hearing has been scheduled.

Purchase said he went to city hall on Thursday seeking his check and was told it would not be issued this month. The payroll clerk "said I need to see city attorney Michael O'Shea about my check," Purchase said.

Council members receive $600 a month; Farris receives a salary of $1,000 a month. The elected officials also receive paid health insurance and are enrolled in two pension plans.

The feuding between Farris and the council, which dates to the day Farris won the mayoral election in April 2003, escalated with the Dec. 27 announcement of the boycott that included a demand that Farris resign.

Since then, the combatants have fought inside and outside council chambers.

The council won't stop confronting Farris, Purchase said. "He is the type of guy you have to bow down to," he said.

Farris could not be reached for comment Saturday.

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