Zeigler Finance Commissioner accused of using "strong and threat - WSIL-TV 3 Southern Illinois

Zeigler Finance Commissioner accused of using "strong and threatening language"

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ZEIGLER -- Ryan Thorpe was fired Tuesday night after an auditor's report showed more than 200 thousand dollars missing from city accounts over the last 27 months, but he wasn't the only city council member named in the audit. 

Citizens sought accountability from finance commissioner Jim Flood, who seemed to grow frustrated at Tuesday night's meeting as he was peppered with questions about how more than 200,000 dollars went missing on his watch and new allegations that he bullied other city employees.

As citizens demanded answers from Finance Commissioner Jim Flood, Tuesday's special council meeting turned into a full-fledged shouting match.

This comes after an auditor's report shows Flood would use "strong and threatening language" against female staff in city hall to pressure them into signing blank checks.

Some staff also say Flood would threaten people's jobs if he didn't get his way.

City attorney Rebecca Whittington calls it "bullying".

"Largely the kind of thing you saw tonight only there were 100 people in the room as opposed to being in a room with just a couple of women alone," she said. "It can be intimidating."

Mayor Dennis Mitchell said he's also seen behavior from Flood that some may find aggressive

"He has a strong personality and to others, they feel intimidated," Mitchell said.

In a phone call Flood said that he doesn't see his conduct as aggressive, and that he is an active commissioner trying to get things done.

"I bullied no one, and if someone felt that way, no one has ever come to me or the city council over my behavior," he said. "This appears to be nothing more than a witch hunt."

Flood was first elected to Zeigler's council in 2007 and was appointed by the mayor to be finance commissioner.

Mitchell says neither he, nor the council, can remove a commissioner, but they can reassign roles.

At the meeting Flood deflected audience questions about how more than 200,000 dollars went missing on his watch.

"I'm not going to sit here and take blame," he said.

Whittington says that Flood often uses his physical presence to intimidate employees, shouting them down or towering over them.

"I believe women in city hall have done things that they might not otherwise have done so that they did not incur his wrath," Whittington said.

Zeigler Mayor Dennis Mitchell said that at next Tuesday's meeting the council will discuss reassigning commissioner roles.

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