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DeKalb Alderwoman opposes City Clerk exit: "No one had opportunity to defend themselves"

DeKALB – Ward 1 Alderwoman Carolyn Morris said she doesn’t support Mayor Jerry Smith asking City Clerk Lynn Fazekas to resign, though her attempts to convince him otherwise were not successful.

Morris issued a statement late Wednesday night saying she instead suggested to council the city should make the position full-time, and said high turnover in the last eight years has led to a “systemic problem.”

“We were not afforded the opportunity to hear [Fazekas’] opposing perspective in our closed session, though I requested it,” Morris said in her statement. “So my perspective is limited. Regardless, this was not a choice that was in keeping with the intent of providing consistent checks and balances. I attempted to convince others of these things and was unsuccessful.”

Fazekas contacted area media Wednesday to clear up what she said were rumors on the matter, and said she was asked to resign her position as City Clerk by Mayor Jerry Smith Monday after a closed executive session to which was she was not invited. She refused the resignation, and said she was not given any justification at the time for why he was asking her to exit her role, which he appointed her to in August.

Mayor Smith said Wednesday the decision came on the heels of what he said was Fazekas “impeding” the ability of the city to conduct business because she keeps the city seal, which is used to stamp and legitimize permits, licenses, resolutions, and other documentation, locked in her office.

Fazekas said she is limited by the part-time nature of her role, which only allows her to work around eight to 10 hours a week, and said the city code says only the City Clerk is the keeper of the seal. The city code states that in the clerk’s absence, the deputy clerk can perform the same clerical duties “as if done by the City Clerk personally.”

Morris said though it was not identified as such, she feels there was a vote of sorts taken, because each alderman was given the opportunity to state their opinion on the matter.

Morris said she was an outlier in the conversation, but did not confirm whether she was the only opposing voice.

“I had trouble fathoming that eight hours of stamping needed to happen and that her visiting every other day was insufficient to keep pace with the workload,” Morris said. “I also struggled because most of the ideas shared were hearsay. We did not hear from the primary people discussed, no one had the opportunity to defend themselves or explain.”

Morris said, in hindsight, she would have preferred that both the Mayor and City Manager Bill Nicklas stepped out at some point in the meeting, so that Fazekas could come in and be questioned personally by the council.

“Would you fire an employee without hearing their side?” Morris said. “I can not [sic] support this decision.”

This story will be updated as further information becomes available.

Source: The Daily Chronicle

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