2017-10-12 / Front Page

Allegations made concerning city clerk being investigated

810-452-2645 * tterry@mihomepaper.com

BURTON — At the last city council meeting, held Oct. 1, Mayor Paula Zelenko announced both the city clerk and the deputy clerk had been removed from their positions, at least temporarily, and their roles are being fulfilled by other individuals.

“The city clerk and deputy clerk are on administrative leave, pending an investigation and accusations from a citizen,” Zelenko said. “At this time, they’re on leave for their best interest and the best interest of the city. They are not presumed guilty.”

Zelenko said she did not have any details of the finding, but assured the residents the accusations were not in any way related to the election or finances.

“In the meantime, Davison Township Clerk Cindy Shields and her staff have been here to evaluate our situation, and we are in great shape,” she said. “Davison Township does not have an election this year, and has agreed to assist us all the way through November election should we need that.”

Zelenko said Genesee County Clerk John Gleason had been very helpful, and his staff had been to Burton to make sure things were on target as well.

“Rik Hayman has been sworn in as acting clerk, and Sue Warren as acting deputy clerk so that we have authorized signatories representing the city of Burton for day-to-day business,” Zelenko said. “In addition, Genesee Township clerk Wayne Bates has been assisting Clerk Shields.”

Zelenko reassured residents that matters pertaining to the election were running smoothly, despite what was going on at the clerk’s office.

She said pre-election testing was complete and successful, and absentee ballots were provided to those who submitted an application for them. She also said Marcy Kimball, a record tech, did an excellent job of taking on extra daily work and making sure the absentee ballots were processed as they came in, as well as contacting election workers in regards to the November election and getting them signed up for training on the new equipment.

Councilman Tom Martinbianco said he was concerned because the issue had not come to the council before in which a charter member had been suspended or called out. He asked City Attorney Amanda Doyle what the council had to do to recognize different people in the clerk and deputy clerk position. He asked if the change required council approval.

“Mr. Martinbianco, because of the emergency there needed to be a clerk and acting clerk because of the deadline,” Doyle said. “The election’s around the corner. Someone needed to be appointed, sooner rather than later.”

Doyle said because of the nature of this alleged offense, she and labor attorney, Joshua Leadford, both recommended immediate suspension with pay. Doyle later said Teresa Karsney was still legally the city clerk, and that’s why the council did not appoint a new clerk.

Although some council members asked why they weren’t notified sooner of the investigation and change, Zelenko said the county clerk’s office recommended Burton get outside help, which is standard practice. She also said Hayman is a certified election clerk.

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