DeKalb planning to ignore existing policies to sideline the clerk’s office once again


City council will take up a proposal tomorrow to appoint the executive assistant as permanent recorder of the meeting minutes. They can’t bar the city clerk from attending meetings and taking minutes, so here’s what they’ve come up with:

The follow-on ordinance…will not prevent the Clerk from taking minutes and presenting them, but the Council will have the opportunity to choose which set of minutes to accept and approve.

In the city manager’s memo discussing the divisive proposal, he calls the executive assistant a “consummate professional,” yet he intends to disrespect the consummate professional by wasting hours of her time each month duplicating another person’s work.

Such a consideration also wastes city council’s time, because remedies already exist for an absent city clerk and for making corrections to meeting minutes. From Chapter 2 of the DeKalb Municipal Code:

In the absence of the clerk, the council may appoint a recording secretary to assume said duties.

That’s what they always do when the clerk is absent. It works fine. Also from Chapter 2:

The clerk’s draft of the minutes may be amended at any time to correctly reflect the view of the legislative body as to the events which occurred.

Once the clerk has submitted draft meeting minutes, it’s the council’s job either to accept them or to make amendments and then accept them. There’s no sending them back. If it’s too overwhelming, may I suggest using the “action minutes” model to amend, just to ensure all the decisions are correct (e.g. votes, assignments) and leave the rest. For that matter, the city clerk could use the same model in getting caught up on the minutes. Action minutes are perfectly legal and some parliamentarians even recommend them for local governments.

As for the city manager, he is obligated under Chapter 3 of the Code to “cooperate with the City Clerk, and other elected officials and shall render to them all such assistance as possible in the performance of their respective duties.” Every day he’s not helping, he’s violating an ordinance.

I know Clerk Cohen has had issues with attendance and minutes. But the drama is a bit much when the other parties aren’t keeping up their ends, either.

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