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Village clerk responds to firing, addresses manager's performance

October 13, 2010 - "I was completely shocked."

That's how former Oxford Village Clerk Dan Luick described his reaction to council's 3-2 vote on Oct. 12 to terminate him effective immediately (for background see story "Council fires clerk who needs kidney transplant").

"I never saw it coming," he said.

When council and Luick evaluated his performance during the closed session portion of the meeting, he thought a resolution had been reached.

Councilman Dave Bailey's motion to fire him threw Luick for a loop.

"I knew nothing of it," he said.

Immediately prior to his firing, Luick announced at the council meeting that one of the reasons he's behind in his work is because he needs a kidney transplant.

When asked if he plans to take any legal action against the village, Luick replied, "I have no idea."

"Right now, I'm just concentrating on maintaining my health. That's pretty much it," he said.

In the aftermath, Luick did wish to say a few things for the record regarding a quote from Councilman Tom Benner and Manager Joe Young's performance.

In the aforementioned article, Benner was quoted as saying, "Since he was hired, he's not been ready for the audit each year. And each year it has cost the taxpayers extra money."

"I think Mr. Benner's somewhat confused. That's not true," he said. "I think he confuses it with what happened prior to my arrival. I've only been here for two audits."

Luick, who started work in November 2007, noted that the 2007-08 audit was "completed with no problem."

While the 2008-09 audit did require the expenditure of extra funds for accounting assistance to get the books in order, Luick said it was because the village office had lost a staff member.

It was in September 2008 that Maureen Helmuth, who's now a councilperson, was laid off as village treasurer. The treasurer's duties were added to Luick's clerk duties.

In light of the village office staff being reduced to three full-time employees, Luick said he and his deputy clerk struggled to "keep our heads above water."

"We received very minimal assistance from the manager, who should have been handling some of that and was not," he said.

As for the $2,500 Young requested last week for council to spend on accounting assistance to prepare for the 2009-10 audit, Luick noted he was never told anything about it.

"When he went to council with that idea, that had not even been proposed to me," he said.

Luick said one of the reasons things aren't getting done as they should in the village office is because Young's attention is always elsewhere, from focusing on the downtown to taking minutes at various groups' meetings including Oxford-Addison Youth Assistance, North Oakland Transportation Authority and Polly Ann Trail Management Council.

"I think there needs to be a better managerial focus on the operations of the office rather than being focused on the DDA and focused elsewhere (in places) it shouldn't be," he said. "Joe's main concern is the four corners of the downtown. It's not what goes on in that office."

"You can't go out (to the) downtown for a couple hours everyday . . . and expect that the remaining people can do everything. It doesn't work."

Luick said when the village office was downsized to three full-time employees, Young didn't pitch in and take on his share of the burden.

"If you're going to lose a person than the remaining people need to pick up the tasks equally," Luick said. "Two people can't necessarily take on everything while the third person takes on maybe one thing or tells you we'll get together and discuss this and then we never do."

When asked if he'd return to work if council rescinded its motion and offered him his job back or a leave of absence while he deals with his health issues, Luick responded, "I would definitely consider going back."

"It's been a very nice community to work for," he said.

Young declined to comment on any of Luick's statement's regarding him or his performance.

CJ Carnacchio is editor for The Oxford Leader. He lives in the Village of Oxford with his wife Connie and daughter Larissa. When he's not busy working on the newspaper, he enjoys cigars/pipes, Martinis/Scotch, hunting and fishing.
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