By Annie Andrews firstname.lastname@example.org
The acceptance of Mary Lou Brown's resignation is not accepted. If you're confused, you're not alone.
Tuesday night's meeting was a ‘tennis match' of legal speak and true meaning between council members, the city attorney and Brown's contract. The item in question was presented by Councilman Chuck Haase and as he put it, was to "accept something that's already been accepted."
Haase went on the record that he wanted to be an equal partner in the resignation process, just as the council is an equal member in the hiring process. The Mayor, in the instance of hiring Mary Lou Brown, made his recommendation and the council approved. Haase compared the situation to that of a business with a board of directors. The council, he said, like a board of trustees, would be consulted and part of the acceptance of any resignation that involved a key member of the company.
He said his frustrations weren't over the actual "letter of the letter," as Nickerson put it, but rather over the common courtesy, so to speak, of being involved. He added that this would set an important precedent for any future similar instances. "I think we need to be part of this, it's a good practice," said Haase.
But, the meeting quickly took a different turn when the council president looked at the actual "letter of the letter." Peg Gilbert asked, "if we [meaning the council], don't pass this, can this date [September 30th] be extended?" The answer, provided by Sivick, was that pivotal turning point. Legally and technically Mary Lou Brown at any time can withdraw her resignation before September 30th, either all together or postpone to a later date. The Mayor, then can approve the change without requiring the council's consent. That means, if Mary Lou Brown withdraws her resignation and the Mayor approves it, she would be reinstated as City Administrator for the rest of Vavricek's term, until December of 2014.
This news put Peg Gilbert's opening remarks of "this needs to be solved, we need to move on, we have very important things happening over the next month and a half," in jeopardy. The resolution in question, if approved by the council, could do nothing to stop that. But in contrast, if approved, said Sivick, could put the council in risk of legal action citing several discrepancies.
The only ‘solution' to the problem of ‘what could happen' came from Councilman Larry Carney. He said if Mary Lou Brown and the Mayor testified publicly that they would indeed keep the September 30th date as addressed in her letter of resignation, the issue would be resolved. Neither the Mayor nor Mary Lou Brown responded.
The council ultimately decided not to approve the resolution in a 5 to 4 vote.
The Mayor was formally censured at the meeting directly before this, and a recall effort before that had begun. The Mayor recently signed the affidavit for his recall, giving him 20 days from that date to respond publicly with a 60-word statement. That date, now falls on the Monday after the State Fair begins, August 27th.