**Update 6:45 p.m.
Elmwood Park Village President Tom Mills resigned Thursday because, he said, two board members created such a toxic environment he felt this was his only option.
But, Trustee Nick Haas told Racine County Eye that Mills was given the option of stepping down to avoid potential legal action against him.
Mills stepped down during a special board meeting Thursday, a story in The Journal Times reads, and Trustee Ellis Steiner was appointed in his place.
Steiner will serve until April, when Mills’ term would normally have expired.
Mills was elected in Fall 2012 after village residents voted to recall former President Audrey Viau, mostly because they felt she mishandled the situation with Walmart when that company wanted to move into the former Kohl’s store at Durand and Lathrop Avenues.
He told the newspaper that Trustees Haas and Jeff Klimek created a “hostile work environment” and that he felt forced to resign. He reiterated his position when Racine County Eye reached him Friday evening.
“If you want comment about all this, I stand by what I told the newspaper,” Mills said. “Let’s just say there was disgruntlement between trustees and myself, and instead of exposing everything, I decided to pull the plug instead.”
Haas said there is a list of allegations against Mills and that he wasn’t going to say anything publicly, but he felt he had to comment after reading the story in The Journal Times.
“I am being careful and close to the vest about the allegations, and they might come out into the light one day, but I want to be clear (Mills’ resignation) had nothing to do with a hostile work environment,” he said. “I feel like I need to correct the record as it has been put forth by Tom Mills in the newspaper.”
Haas said he checked with at least two different state agencies to be sure he was within the letter of the law by offering Mills the opportunity to resign in exchange for not taking any legal action. Now, though, he is weighing his options.
Mills answered by saying there probably will be some kind of litigation in the near future, but he would not go into any details.
“I will not go into it, (but) this will be for litigation at a later time,” he said, “There have been … There’s been nothing culpable against me legally, and if he pushes this, we will get into legal action. “