If a proposed ordinance passes, the Pacific Board of Aldermen will pick the next deputy city clerk.
The ordinance was suggested at the June 3 meeting to solve a disagreement between Mayor Jeff Palmore and the board. Palmore said the deputy city clerk position is a mayor’s appointment, while the board said it was a board appointment.
In order to straighten things out, the board unanimously agreed to proceed with an ordinance that would explicitly state the appointment would come from the board.
Pacific has been without a deputy city clerk since Daphne Lindemann resigned suddenly in April.
With City Clerk Kim Barfield on vacation and Lindemann resigning, the city had to scramble to find someone to properly swear in the mayor and other elected officials at the April 23 meeting.
During his mayor’s report Tuesday night, Palmore brought up Lindemann’s resignation. He said he had recently noticed Lindemann’s letter said she was resigning effective May 6.
“Where was she from the 22nd to the sixth?” Palmore asked.
City Administrator Harold Selby said she was working. Palmore said if that was the case, then why didn’t she do the swearing in procedure.
Selby said there was some confusion about the situation and they were unsure if she could perform the ceremony. Palmore said that issue had already been addressed.
Palmore said it was known before the ceremony that a city clerk, a county clerk or a judge could perform the swearing in. He said with Barfield on vacation, Lindemann assumed her duties and therefore could have done the procedure.
Ultimately Palmore said the effective date on the resignation letter might not matter.
“Of course her term ended with the mayor’s so the resignation and the date is somewhat of a moot point,” Palmore said. “It would have been not moot had she been here for us that night.”
Alderman Mike Bates asked if that was true. He said he was unsure the deputy city clerk position was an appointed position.
“I think that’s just a standing staff position,” Bates said.
Palmore said it wasn’t and the position has always been appointed by the mayor.
Later in the meeting Alderman Mike Pigg questioned the mayor’s interpretation of the city’s ordinance. Pigg said after consulting with City Attorney Matt Schroeder, he believed the deputy city clerk should be appointed by the board and not the mayor.
“It is my opinion that the deputy city clerk, having the responsibilities of the city clerk, would be appointed in conjunction with the city clerk, and that’s done by the board,” Schroeder said.
Palmore said he has had the conversation with Schroeder about the issue and the two disagree.
“I have asked for case law, statutory law or precedent that would support his opinion that this position is appointed by the aldermen,” Palmore said. “I have not received any of that supporting evidence.”
Palmore said he found, in his own research, that the position has been appointed by the mayor every time since the job was created in 1995.
Palmore said he was at one of the meetings when a deputy clerk was appointed and he vividly remembers a former mayor’s remarks that day.
“His words were ‘I don’t need your support or your opinion,’’’ Palmore said. “I remember that very clearly.”
Based on that, Palmore said he disagreed with Pigg and Schroeder. He said there was no ordinance saying it wasn’t his appointment and there weren’t any supporting documents to back up Schroeder’s interpretation.
“I’m going to maintain my position — it is not a board appointment,” Palmore said. “If someone can show me differently, I’ll be happy to reconsider.”
Alderman Steve Myers questioned Palmore’s decision.
“I’m curious why we have a city attorney if we’re not going to take his advice,” Myers said.
Palmore said the mayor and attorney can disagree on things. He said the city has, in the past, taken the advice of the attorney “blindly” and gotten into trouble.
“Differing opinions is certainly not unheard of,” Palmore said.
Myers said he found it that just weeks after the mayor pushed for Schroeder to be the new city attorney, he was already disagreeing with him. Myers said Palmore raved about Schroeder’s qualifications and now was ignoring his advice.
“I have a mind of my own, maybe not a very big one, but I’m able to think on my own,” Palmore said. “I came to the conclusion through analysis. I didn’t just pull something out of my hat.”
Palmore said Schroeder was just offering an interpretation of the ordinance. The actual ordinance does not say who appoints the deputy city clerk.
Myers then made a motion to have the city attorney draft an ordinance that allows the board to make the appointment of deputy clerk.
“I want to remove the ambiguity,” Myers said. “It should be clear-cut and concise.”
The other members of the board unanimously agreed to the proposed ordinance.