Council on Track to Deprive Us of Another Election

On Monday, the city council discussed the compensation ordinance that will go into effect upon installation of the city’s elected officers in May. This was just the first reading. Passage is expected during the regular council meeting on October 25.

Council at this point is on track to continue to deprive us of another election for city clerk. This body plans to pay the next mayor $22,500 per year, the next clerk $8,000.

Members seem intent on keeping the clerk a part-time position, based on a vague notion of protecting themselves from “liability,” which we know does not exist because the city has never gotten into trouble for violations of open meetings and open records laws before or after they ruined the office of the clerk.

No, the reality is that the liability works the other way. You see, while council has lots of leeway when it comes to assigning duties and setting compensation, any ordinance that passes must be reasonable. And we know that DeKalb ordinances having to do with the clerk are demonstrably unreasonable because they’ve interfered with elections of the clerk.

What would be reasonable? The clerk restoration committee, of which I am a member, has put together a proposal for a full-time clerk that we feel satisfies the needs of both city government and the public.

However, it’s not the only way to fix the mistakes of the past. If the city council insists on keeping the clerk’s elected citywide position a part-time job, begin by paying that person what you pay the mayor, whose position is likewise elected, citywide, and officially part-time (DeKalb Muni Code, 3.06(c)).

We never lack for mayoral candidates. It would be a good start.