At the Personnel Committee meeting, Tuesday, Oct. 21, several Clintonville City Council members questioned the actions of Mayor Judy Magee while she is on a medical leave of absence.
Alderwoman Mary-Beth Kuester questioned the committee as to why Mayor Judy Magee was still announcing proclamations and attending meetings as mayor while she is on a leave of absence. Kuester asked if the acting mayor should be doing those duties.
Acting Mayor Jeannie Schley said she doesn’t know what to do. She said she was invited to a function earlier in the day, but Magee was at the function.
“I don’t know if I’m the acting mayor or not,” Schley said.
Rose said since Magee is on a leave of absence she should not be doing any mayoral duties during that absence.
“If she is in some kind of a mindset that she still is doing those actions then she needs to be put in her place,” Rose said. “It sounds rough, and it sounds harsh but you can’t have it both ways. I guess we need to direct her to stop doing that sort of behavior. And if she continues to do it, it would be another ethics violation of hers. We have a tally going, and it’s getting longer and longer.”
Committee member Bill Zienert asked city attorney April Dunlavy for her opinion on the matter, as the council must respect the law.
Rose made a motion to have the committee direct the city attorney to write a letter to Magee to consider her leave of absence for an undefined date, and to cease and desist from all mayoral duties.
During discussion Alderman Jim Krause said anyone taking a leave of absence for a mental illness should have to provide some form of psychiatric evaluation before returning to their position.
Zeinert again asked what the city legally can do. He added that he’d like to see a brief about what powers acting mayor Schley has, and if Magee has any powers while on leave.
Dunlavy said there are very few legal opinions or rules as to what happens when a mayor takes a leave of absence.
“When the mayor is absent from her duties, the acting mayor steps up and has the mayor’s full duties,” Dunlavy said. “You can’t have two mayors, so if the first original mayor is not acting, then the acting mayor has all the duties of the mayor.”
Rose asked if any of the actions Magee is doing while on leave would hold up legally?
“That is a very interesting question because you’re not acting in that position as mayor during a leave of absence then it stands to reason that all your actions as mayor are void,” Dunlavy said.
Rose amended his motion by adding that the committee seek a brief on the legality of the situation and the roles of the acting mayor from the city attorney.
The motion passed unanimously.
Chain of command
Clintonville Clerk Treasurer Peggy Johnson asked the committee for direction.
“In the midst of everything that has been going on in the city I have been directed to do things that were not in the best interest of the city,” Johnson said.
Johnson asked the committee what it wants her to do in the future when she is asked to do things that are not in the best interest of the city.
“What do you want me to do, follow the directive or do what is right,” Johnson asked.
She said she feels she should be doing what is right for the city, and what follows the Treasurers Creed of being a treasurer for a government.
Johnson said in one instance where she followed legal and proper procedure and did what is right for the city, she received an email that it could become a disciplinary item in insubordination.
Johnson said she was denied a Personnel Committee meeting when she requested one.
Committee member Mark Doornink said he didn’t think it was inappropriate for Johnson to contact a Personnel Committee member to call a meeting.
Rose said the municipal codes would have to be reviewed to see who can call meetings.
“It’s really sad that we’ve gotten to this point, but I’m happy to see we are at a point now where Peggy can feel she can come forward and we can get these matters addressed properly. While it’s unfortunate she has had to deal with this so long, we are at least at a time and place now where we can address it,” Rose said.
Krause said ethics should always trump anything else. He said a code of ethics needs to be strictly followed.
“People are wrong on many occasions and I really don’t think that we can rely on the personal judgment of one person who is not a professional to come up with the answers,” Krause said.
Doornink agreed that a code of ethics needs to be followed, but he doesn’t want to see the council micromanage people. He said a chain of command needs to be followed. He said the council needs to let the department heads do their jobs, and then if they have problems, they can come to a member of the Personnel Committee.
Alderwoman Gloria Dunlavy said Johnson should always do what is right for the city “at all costs.”
Rose said the committee needs to review the municipal code and refine it so this situation doesn’t happen again.
The incident happened in September, and Johnsons said she did not do what was asked of her.
Rose eventually made a motion to have the Personnel Committee look at the Employee Handbook at a future meeting and make the necessary changes to the chain of command and grievance procedure.
The motion passed unanimously.