To the Editor:
I want to explain the City Clerk position to your readers.
On Jan. 14, 1871, at a meeting in a hotel at the corner of Second Street and Lincoln Highway owned by Russell Huntley, who is considered the founder of DeKalb, 227 people came together to form the City of DeKalb and decide the governing officials for the new city.
At that meeting a mayor, four aldermen, constable and city clerk were elected. The term of office for city clerk was set at four years and has remained so to this day. C.O. Vaughn was the first clerk and served two terms, I was the 11th city clerk, serving from 1977 to 1997.
The clerk is to attend all council meetings and record them in a fair and unbiased manner as these minutes reflect the events as they occurred and become the history of DeKalb. The clerk is responsible for documenting ordinances, resolutions, agreements, deeds, contracts and many other documents. The clerk's office also publishes and distributes municipal code updates. All of this requires constant attention.
The city clerk, when it is deemed necessary, employs a deputy clerk who is loyal and answers only to the clerk. Bertha Schropell, the first deputy clerk, was appointed in the 1940s and served until her retirement in 1957.
The clerk position faced little scrutiny for over 100 years, until Steve Kapitan failed to carry out required duties and resigned in 2012.
There was an attempt to eliminate the clerk position: The hours and pay were considerably reduced and duties were assigned elsewhere, compromising the integrity of the position. Although a referendum to eliminate an elected full-time clerk failed twice, we now have a clerk working only 10 hours a week and the deputy clerk working full-time, causing conflict.
The deputy clerk should have been promoted to the clerk position and employed a deputy clerk until the next election. The city manager should not have hired the deputy who was employed as assistant to his office. This creates a situation where the deputy clerk serves two masters. The city clerk and deputy clerk “serve the people for the people” and should not come under the city manager for appointment or direction.
I recommend that the current deputy clerk resign to work only for the city manager as his assistant, and the city clerk position becomes full-time, with the authority to hire a deputy clerk.