Source: Sherman Publications

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City clerk-treasurer resigns

by Trevor Keiser

April 06, 2011

Just over three months since City Clerk/Treasurer Kimberly Howe was hired, she submitted her resignation letter.

She posted a resignation letter, March 16, citing Councilman Richard Bisio's postings on Facebook about her.

"I can no longer endure the personal attacks on my work by (Councilman) Richard Bisio," Howe said in her letter. "He never fails to openly criticize and bring into question everything I do."

Bisio's Facebook postings often complained about how the minutes were written. On Jan. 26, Bisio said on Facebook, "I surrender. I acknowledge defeat. I won't try anymore to correct errors in the council's minutes."

Howe doesn't have a Facebook account.

"Friends and family have sent me copies," she said.

Howe is paid an annual salary of $14,500 for 16-20 hours a week, which is split between both the clerk and the treasurer position.

Bisio stated at the March 28 council meeting, he was "taken back by the tone of her resignation letter."

"I have on occasion been critical in some of my Facebook posts, but my criticisms of Kim have been few and not recent," Bisio stated in a response to Howe's resignation letter. "I don't think this is a fair characterization. I leave it to others to read it and make their own assessments."

He also stated he "generally satisfied with the job Kim was doing, particularly with regard to the finances."

"I think she's done a good job," he said. "I'm sorry to lose her and if she changes her mind, I think that's a good thing for the city."

Bisio admitted he uses "aggressive rhetoric," but it's "to stimulate discussion and bring attention to items he thinks is important."

"I'm always open to discussions with those who disagree with me in an effort to work towards constructive solutions," he said.

Mayor Joe Luginski said the Facebook postings weren't constructive.

"To get personal and the way you've done, it is really not good for the city, not good for the moral of this council and quite frankly I think is unacceptable," Luginski said to Bisio.

Former Mayor Steve Arkwright said he was "very disturbed," when he heard Howe was leaving and "the treatment she's received was very inappropriate and certainly not deserved."

"Personally I'm embarrassed by the treatment. I don't think it speaks well to our city, I don't think it's an appropriate way to treat our employees, I think it makes it's more difficult to get quality people like Kim," Arkwright said. "I hope that behavior stops immediately because it's not good for anybody."

Luginski appointed a four-member task force, March 28, to find a replacement as well as review the position, which may result in hiring two people, a clerk and a treasurer.

The city placed an ad in the Michigan Municipal League seeking applications for the position. Meanwhile, Howe has agreed to stay on.