DeKALB – DeKalb City Clerk Lynn Fazekas was asked to resign from her position by DeKalb Mayor Jerry Smith following an executive session of the city council Monday, and on Wednesday she said she was refusing.
“I have to say, being asked to resign with so little information, I took it as a hostile act, I couldn’t help it,” Fazekas said Wednesday. “I like to try to be level-headed when I can but it really hit me hard. [Smith] alluded to some sort of public embarrassment that might happen if I didn’t resign.”
Smith declined to elaborate on the matter when contacted by the Daily Chronicle on Wednesday.
“Action taken in the executive session led me to do what she says I did which is the fact in this case,” Smith said.
Fazekas, who keeps minutes during the regular council meetings, said she usually attends closed executive sessions so that she can take minutes to formally close out the council meeting when executive session is complete.
She was not allowed to attend Monday’s executive session, however, but afterwards was approached by Smith, who brought her in a conference room with Ward 4 Alderman Patrick Fagan (Fazekas lives in Ward 4) and senior city attorney John Donahue.
Fagan said he deferred comment to Smith after being reached by phone Wednesday.
Fazekas said she offered those in the meeting room a “hard no” and refused to resigned.
City seal uncertainty
Fazekas said Smith referred to a “city seal snafu” in his brief conversation with her Monday night.
In chapter 3 of the DeKalb Municipal Code, one of the city clerk’s positions is to be keeper of the city seal, meaning that person is given responsibility to attest, or verify, signatures on documents, resolutions, ordinances and other documents the mayor signs.
“It’s not the same as notarizing things,” Fazekas explained. “I apply the seal of the City of DeKalb along with my signature to attest what others have done. So I’m attesting to the Mayor’s signature. We both sign, and I do sign licenses, some permits, and stuff like that.”
The DeKalb City Clerk serves a four-year term in a part-time role with an $8,000 salary and no benefits, according to city code. Fazekas said because her position is part-time, she cannot always be there to sign documents, and city staff have implied they want to be able to use the City Seal.
“It’s like they were saying I either needed to be here every day which is not possible under the circumstances of the job, or delegate day-to-day authority of the city seal to my deputy,” Fazekas said. “I did not even realize this was a problem for anybody until the first week of June.”
Fazekas sent city council and the Mayor a City Clerk Progress Report, after which she said deputy clerk Ruth Scott sent her an email asking for more access to the city seal when Fazekas is not in the office.
Fazekas said she feels the City Clerk position has been reduced to a disposable one by the city.
“This is a city code problem. If they really want to fix this they’ll have to fix the city code,” Fazekas said.
The City of DeKalb has dealt with high turnover of city clerk’s in the past few years, with eight different individuals taking on the role since February 2012, including Fazekas’ predecessor, Susanna Herrmann, who resigned in May 2018. No clerk has served the full four years since 2009, Fazekas said.
Fazekas was appointed to the role at Smith’s recommendation and sworn into office in August.
This is a developing story, and this article will be updated.
Source: The Daily Chronicle