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DeKalb City Clerk spat grows: Clerk removes deputy, 2 hours later, City Manager reappoints her

Nicklas: clerk's treatment of deputy 'violates anti-bullying provisions of city's personnel matters'

DeKALB – Emails show City Clerk Lynn Fazekas removed Deputy Clerk Ruth Scott from her role Monday afternoon, and two hours later, City Manager Bill Nicklas reappointed Scott to the role.

In his reply email stating he had reappointed Scott to the deputy role, Nicklas issued sharp judgment on the deputy flip-flopping.

"This was obviously a setup, Lynn, and an extraordinarily insensitive move on your part," Nicklas said in his email Monday. "Such unprofessional behavior has no place in this organization."

Emails obtained by the Daily Chronicle show that the turmoil at city hall over the past few weeks has not abated.

The trio have been the center of a tumultuous last few weeks, as news of a rift between the city clerk and city manager's office surfaced after a July 22 closed session council meeting after which Mayor Jerry Smith, at the request of the council, asked Fazekas to resign. She refused. In addition to her role as deputy clerk, Scott is also a full-time employee and works as executive assistant to the city manager.

When reached, Scott declined comment.

Fazekas said her choice to remove Scott was a security one relating to what Scott has said are 32 instances in which Fazekas' behavior has inhibited city business from being conducted in a timely manner.

"My investigation into the '32 delayed documents' as referenced by Ms. Scott during the council meeting on August 12 release that licensed have been signed during the past three months of which I was not aware," Fazekas said in an email to Mayor Smith, city attorneys, and Nicklas. "[A]nd I would not have approved of if I had been aware. The removal, then, is a security measure I find necessary at this point."

In the Monday email chain, Nicklas said Fazekas went to Scott's office late Monday afternoon as Scott was trying to leave "under duress" to take her mother to the emergency room. Nicklas said Fazekas asked Scott to help her find some records for a visitor, former City Clerk Peggy Hoyt. Scott helped Fazekas find the documents and then left, but in the car called Nicklas to tell her what happened and "how upsetting [Fazekas'] request and demeanor were."

The contention comes after city staff and elected officials alleged Fazekas has impeded city business by keeping the city seal, a stamp used to approve documents and licenses, locked up when not in the office. She works 10 hours a week in her part-time role, and Deputy Clerk Ruth Scott said there were more than 30 instances in which city business was slowed because Fazekas would not let her use the seal, which Scott said she's done in previous terms as deputy.

The July 22 closed session meeting involved discussion about Scott threatening to quit her job. Scott has said Fazekas' desire to keep the City Seal, used for approving city documents, locked up inhibits her ability to complete city business in a timely manner.

The correspondence began when Fazekas sent an email to Nicklas Monday shortly after 4 p.m. which stated, "I have removed Ruth Scott as my Deputy today," and said Scott was in possession of Fazekas' signed statement on the matter.

Shortly before 6 p.m., Nicklas responded saying he had reappointed Scott to the role.

A copy of Fazekas' signed oath from Aug. 15, 2018, shows Fazekas gave her permission for Scott to use the seal. Nicklas on Monday asked Fazekas to immediately produce one of the city seals for Scott to use.

Nicklas said Scott's performed "Extraordinary work" in Fazekas' absence, and said Fazekas attempting to remove her "further impedes city business."

"As chief operating officer of the city, I am obliged to add that your treatment of Ms. Scott this afternoon violates the anti-bullying provisions of the city's personnel matters," Nicklas said.

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