Clintonville mayor remains absent
Some council members want Magee to resign
By Bert Lehman
The governance of the city of Clintonville was discussed at the Sept. 8 city council, as Mayor Judy Magee missed her third straight council meeting.
“We’re finding it extremely difficult to do the work we need to do with the city,” said Chuck Kell, city administrator.
He said there are committee appointments that remain unfilled, and requests have been sent to the mayor.
“We haven’t gotten suggestions back so I don’t know if those positions will ever be filled,” Kell said.
There was a controversy with the Transit Commission because Magee may have had a difference of opinion with the appointments the council approved at the last meeting, Kell said.
“Those appointments were made knowledgeable to the mayor and we didn’t hear anything back from her so we proceeded with the council making those appointments, only to hear afterwards that maybe they weren’t necessarily acceptable to the mayor,” Kell said.
City documents also need to be signed, Kell said.
“I haven’t had a communication from the mayor in probably six weeks,” Kell said. “She has popped in the office I think once or twice over that course of time. But she’s not holding office hours. I quite frankly think we have to do something to be able to move forward here in her absence.”
Kell provided the council with the municipal code which stated the council president shall have the duties and powers of the mayor in the absence of the mayor. He recommended that the council president be allowed to perform the duties and powers of the mayor until the city hears back from Magee.
“We don’t know what to do,” Kell said.
A motion was made and seconded to allow the council president to assume the duties of the mayor in Magee’s absence.
Alderwoman Mary-Beth Kuester told the council she has seen Magee several times throughout the community. Kuester claimed Magee told her that she is on a leave of absence.
Magee did take a leave of absence last year. At that time she sent a press release to the council and the media stating she was taking a leave of absence. No such press release has been received about a current leave of absence.
The Tribune-Gazette unsuccessfully tried contacting Magee regarding her current absence.
City Attorney April Dunlavy said it was her opinion that the council president could act as mayor, but the mayor as the ability to object to actions of the council.
“She’s not an employee that we can chastise, she’s an elected official, so at this point I would think you move forward with the council president acting as mayor,” Dunlavy said.
Alderman Jim Krause asked if there was a state statute that addressed a mayor being allowed to stay in office even if they are not performing their duties for no reason.
“This is getting to be an embarrassment and a total disregard for respect for this community,” Krause said.
Dunlavy said removal from office can be done via a recall election by the public. A mayor can also be removed by the council by a 2/3 vote of the council membership.
“The question is whether you would want to do that or not,” Dunlavy said.
She added, “The mayor will be the mayor until their term is up unless removed or resigned from office.”
Alderman Brad Rokus verified that the current motion would allow the city to keep moving forward, and didn’t require the city to spend any additional money.
Dunlavy cited a hypothetical example where the acting mayor signed an official city document which was then officially objected to by the current mayor.
“Then you’re not in a good place,” Dunlavy said.
Kuester said the council could vote to remove Magee from office and make Council President Lois Bressette the permanent mayor.
Alderman Steve Kettenhoven said he didn’t agree with that. He asked who would make a decision if Magee objected to something.
Dunlavy said the council would have the final say.
“If that were to happen, it would be placed on an agenda for a meeting, and presumably the mayor would have to come to that,” Dunlavy said.
“I think we have to take a positive action and remove her from office, period,” Krause said. “If Lois were to step in as mayor, I can only see her (Magee) turning around and creating hell and havoc with everything that goes on within the city. I don’t think we need any more of this negative publicity. It’s about time we straighten an issue out, meet the issue head on.”
“This is an important job and I don’t get off where this isn’t being done. If you cannot do the job then you need to resign,” added Alderwoman Jeannie Schley.
Kuester again stated that the council has the power to remove Magee from office.
The motion to allow the council president to perform the duties of mayor was passed 6-2. Schley and Krause voted no. Alderwomen Gloria Dunlavy and Amy Steenbock were not present at the meeting.
It was mentioned there would probably be a special council meeting on Sept. 21 to discuss the pending charges regarding the Chapter 17 complaint Tricia Rose has filed against Magee. Supposedly there will be a pending agreement to approve to resolve that matter.