Joliet mayor says he won’t accept resignation letter from city manager
By Bob Okon firstname.lastname@example.org March 18, 2013 11:00PM
Joliet City Manager Thomas Thanas
Updated: April 20, 2013 6:41AM
The mayor has refused to accept City Manager Thomas Thanas’s resignation, and a key council member also said he will try to keep Thanas on board.
Mayor Thomas Giarrante said Thanas submitted his resignation to him after the Monday city council meeting. It was a meeting at which three council members questioned a year-old land deal and claimed they had been misinformed by Thanas about the terms of the purchase agreement.
“He gave me the letter, and I said, ‘Tom, I’m not going to accept this letter of resignation,’” Giarrante said Tuesday.
The mayor said Thanas was “mad about what happened” during the council meeting.
The letter also was emailed to council members after the meeting.
Thanas would not confirm nor deny on Monday night that he had resigned.
“I don’t have a comment on whether I resigned or not. It’s a personnel matter,” Thanas said Monday night.
But a source said an email went out at 5:30 p.m., after the council ended its workshop meeting, and in it Thanas says his resignation would be effective Dec. 31.
“I want to give you plenty of advance notice so you can start the process of filling the position,” the email reportedly says.
Thanas said his resignation would be effective Dec. 31 to give the council time to find a replacement and would leave sooner if necessary.
“I’m not going to vote to accept his resignation sooner,” said senior Councilman Michael Turk, who heads the finance committee. “I’m not going to vote to accept it Dec. 31.”
Both Turk and Giarrante said Thanas does good work for the city, and they want to keep him.
“I’d like to sit down and talk with him, and I’m sure other members of the council would like to sit down and talk with him,” Turk said. “Maybe we’ll get that chance tonight.”
The council has a meeting at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday. Giarrante said he believes Thanas’s letter of resignation will be taken up in closed session as a personnel matter.
Giarrante said the discussion last night should have gone into executive session because, “It turned into a personnel issue. They questioned Tom’s integrity.”
At Monday’s city council meeting, three members were questioning the terms of a $1.25 million building purchase made a year ago to make room for the downtown transportation center. They said that it had not been disclosed that the seller would continue to collect rent on the building until the city had it demolished.
Thanas and the city attorney disputed those members’ version of the deal, saying that the terms were in a sales agreement approved by the council. Thanas said the seller was allowed to collect rent to cover the expenses of operating the building rather than having the city take over management of a private office building.
“I’m confident I cut a great deal for the city of Joliet,” Thanas told the council, adding that “if you want to launch an investigation into it, please do it. ... Investigate me top to bottom. I don’t have a problem with it.”
The deal was questioned by council members Larry Hug, Robert O’Dekirk and Jan Quillman. They all said the arrangement for the building, 10 S. Chicago St., was different from what they had approved.
“This was not done properly with us. It was not disclosed,” Hug said of the rent provision.
“I would not have voted for this project,” O’Dekirk said.
City Attorney Jeff Plyman, however, said the details of the deal had been hashed out at closed sessions with the council before the vote was taken. Even then, Plyman said, the sales agreement outlining that the seller would continue to collect rent and manage the building was provided to the council.
Thanas also faced criticism Monday from people who came to oppose the possibility of an immigrant detention center in Joliet. He has been the target of most of the critics of the project, although Thanas and council members repeatedly emphasize that the federal government has not proposed the detention center for Joliet.
Thanas, however, has explored the possibility of bringing the project to Joliet and has been the city’s only spokesman on the project.