After about 30 minutes, there appeared to be a heated discussion seen through the glass door and then Askew exited the building, saying, “I don’t have to listen to this. I’m resigning.” The rest of the council stayed in closed session for another half hour before returning to open session at 9:20 p.m. Alderman Larry Call was elected mayor pro-tem, and the meeting continued with councilmen comments but first asking if any officers were present to make their statement. The officers had all left after talking with the mayor on her exit. Following councilmen comments, the meeting adjourned with no comments on the closed session.
According to an article in Thursday's Paducah Sun, based on an interview Askew said she gave to the reporter on Aug. 10, that heated discussion began when four of the five aldermen present denied Askew recognition of the part-time officers, an action Askew called rude and out of order. Askew said Call supported the officers' recognition. According to the article, Call said the dispute began Sunday following WSIL-TV's coverage of the open house held in Cornelius' honor. During an interview with the station, Cornelius said she had worked all shifts since being hired on July 21 and no part-time officers had shown for duty. The Sun article stated Askew has an "open door" policy and she invited the officers to discuss their concerns to the council during Tuesday's closed session. Askew said she also spoke to Cornelius privately, telling her she was "picked because of her excellent qualifications and great leadership capability. . . . and she would need to build a rapport between herself and her officers." According to the article, Askew said Cornelius told the council the mayor cut Cornelius out of the chain of command and the officers should have addressed her first. Askew said Cornelius denied the officers the chance to speak to the council. Askew said that during the closed session discussion, she felt a council member implied she would not serve the remaining 18 months of her term. "At that point," Askew said in the Sun article, "I gathered my materials, stood up and announced my resignation." The Planet contacted Abell on Thursday regarding the meeting, which Abell said he did not attend. "I wasn't there the other night, I don't know what happened. . . . The city council has not called me. I don't know what took place. I don't know if what they did was appropriate to a closed session. If not, there is no way to know what was said. . . . Right now, my task, as far as I know, is to advise Ms. Askew on this resignation," Abell said Thursday. Abell explained that according to the Illinois Municipal Handbook when an elected official resigns it has to be in writing, signed, notarized. "You can't just say 'I quit,'" he said. Abell said Thursday that while at the time he was "aware that (Askew) said she is resigning," things changed by the time they met Monday. And because Askew never wrote a formal letter of resignation, reconsideration of her statement is allowable according to the Illinois Municipal Code. In fact, business at Brookport City Hall has carried on as usual with Askew being at city hall since Tuesday’s meeting giving continuity until the matter was resolved. According to Askew, during the Tuesday closed session Cornelius told the council she had already planned a meeting for 7 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 10, to be attended by the officers and the mayor. Cornelius stated she would be listening to her officers' comments and explaining some of her new policies. At this point, she invited all the council members to attend. Abell said the mayor as the chief executive officer of city being over all city employees and the city's day-to-day management could be in attendance at such a meeting. Abell said he did not attend Wednesday's meeting but if aldermen were in attendance "that would constitute a violation of the Illinois Open Meetings Act if more than two elected officials, for example the mayor and two aldermen, were present." The Planet contacted Cornelius Monday morning. When asked if any officers have resigned or if the department is full staffed, Cornelius responded: "Anything dealing with the department right now, I'm still not making any comments about it. There are no changes of the department. I have not lost any officers or anything. I don't know who started that rumor. Anything dealing with us, I'm just not really commenting on." Cornelius was also asked if she would like to make a comment on what happened the last week. She responded, "No." In light of the recent developments, Askew said she is not planning a special council meeting this week and the next council meeting will be "just a regular business meeting." Askew said positive feedback from Brookport residents influenced her decision to reconsider the resignation. "I really feel that there are a lot of issues we need to take care of," Askew said of the Brookport City Council. "I know that the council would like to say how much more they're willing to work together. I feel certain that they're willing to work together, a more functioning unit."