East Dubuque leaders table contract decision for city manager accused of sexual misconduct

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EAST DUBUQUE, Illinois, (KCRG-TV9) -- The East Dubuque city council is holding off on making a decision about the city's embroiled city manager's contract of employment.

People gather for the civil service committee meeting in East Dubuque on Wednesday, July 11, 2018. (Allison Wong, KCRG-TV9)

The council held a civil service committee meeting on Wednesday, July 11 to discuss City Manager Geoff Barklow's contract, and the public attended to voice their opinion.

The Illinois State Police recently conducted an investigation into allegations of unwanted sexual advances and misconduct against Barklow.

A woman accused Barklow of offering to give her a ride home, but instead driving her to his house and keeping her there to talk about starting a relationship. The woman told investigators she asked Barklow to take her home repeatedly, and that Barklow touched her breast.

Barklow told investigators that didn't happen and he took the woman home when she asked.

At Wednesday's meeting, many people asked the council members to not renew Barklow's contract.

Donna Quinn said, "you guys have sons and daughters, granddaughters. You guys have to decide what kind of character you want leading this city as well.”

Quinn added, "I love East Dubuque. I live in Menominee, but I love East Dubuque. I had the opportunity to leave, but I stayed. So let’s move this place forward."

School board member Dave Sendt said, "you got to take the names out of it and you need strong leadership to make a decision that’s right for the entire community.”

A few people asked what would happen if Barklow were terminated. Council member Steve Robey said they would have to hire a new manager or change the city structure from a weak mayor to a strong mayor system.

After hearing public comments, the council went into a closed session. When they came back, Robey announced the decision would be tabled until July 23 at 5:30 p.m.

"There will be a final decision made on July 23 whether we will retain or reject his contract," Robey stated.

When asked why this decision was made, he said, "we just have some research. That’s the only comment I’m going to make."

Hayley Taylor, a woman who has spoken out about misconduct, said she is happy with the council's choice to table the contract decision.

"I hope that they can talk among themselves as a council, to make the decision. Listen to the community, listen to the outrage," she said.

The Illinois State Police also investigated sexual misconduct claims made against Assistant Police Chief Gerald Fluhr. His employment was not discussed at this meeting. Police Chief Steve O'Connell said he is not able to make a decision on Fluhr's employment because that's up to the city manager.

"The power to discipline employees, hire and fire, terminate relies with the city manager. And therefore it was not my position to make a decision in this situation," O'Connell said.