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Paad out, Bejma in as acting clerk



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February 16, 2011 - An Oxford Village employee under investigation and on suspension was demoted to her original position last week.

By a 3-2 vote, the village council approved a motion made by Councilwoman Maureen Helmuth to remove M. Patricia Paad as acting village clerk and return her to her original position of deputy clerk.

Paad will remain suspended without pay until the Michigan State Police complete their investigation into allegations that approximately five years ago, she allegedly took village tax money for her own use, but then repaid the amount in full (see related story on Page 1).

Paad was suspended with pay when the allegation surfaced Jan. 25. Council changed the suspension to without pay following a Jan. 28 special meeting.

In her place, council appointed retired village Clerk Rose Bejma to the acting clerk position. In doing so, council gave Bejma a leave of absence from her service on the village planning commission and Zoning Board of Appeals.

Council made the decision to remove Paad and appoint Bejma because some members felt the village needed someone in the acting clerk's position to sign certain documents and fulfill certain duties.

But not everyone felt the decision was a good idea.

"In America, you're innocent until proven guilty," said Oxford Township Supervisor Bill Dunn, who lives in the village and attended the meeting as a resident. "I wouldn't want you to make a mistake and get rid of someone prematurely before any report has been given.

"I'm certainly not taking any sides. I don't know who's guilty, who's not guilty. But again, you're innocent until proven guilty. Please keep that in mind before making these decisions about removing someone (or) replacing someone."

Councilman Tom Benner, who voted against the motion, indicated he agreed with Dunn.

"I really don't see a necessity to remove her when she's not able to do her duties," he said. "She's on suspension until the end of this investigation."

Benner noted that as part of Paad's promotion from deputy to acting clerk, following the Oct. 12 firing of former Clerk Dan Luick, her pay was increased.

His concern was that if she's demoted His concern was that if she's demoted back to deputy clerk now, then later exonerated from these accusations and compensated for all the back pay she missed, she'd be paid her deputy clerk's wages as opposed to the acting clerk's wages, which she would have continued to receive if not for these allegations.

"That's a very valid issue that this council may well have to discuss at some time in the future," replied Councilman Tony Albensi.

Village President Teri Stiles also voted against the motion to remove Paad because she hopes council will be able to hire a permanent clerk at its next meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 22, thus eliminating the need for an acting clerk.

Council's interviewed many applicants for the job including Paad.

"Hopefully, we will come up with a village clerk by our next meeting," she said. "I think that we have plenty of appropriate candidates. I think all of (the applicants) that we've considered can fulfill the job and I think we need to get somebody in there right away."

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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