Dalton Gardens needs another vote to stay open
Staff Writer | May 27, 2021 1:09 AM
DALTON GARDENS — Even after Monday’s heated, contentious, four-hour-plus Dalton Gardens City Council meeting culminated with a vote to keep City Hall open, its doors will remain closed today and Friday, at least.
Deputy Clerk Teresa Janzen had put in her two weeks’ notice as part of a string of resignations that Mayor Dan Edwards told The Press has stemmed from both low wages and an acrimonious atmosphere at City Hall. Janzen’s last day was scheduled for Wednesday. As the last administrative employee in the building, Janzen’s resignation meant no one would have been around this morning to open the doors, process bills or manage the city’s day-to-day operations.
No one would have been around because the city’s in-building staff have all either resigned or retired. The agenda for the city’s May 24 council meeting featured a long list of line-items addressing the open positions, including that of deputy clerk, city engineer and code enforcement officer, among others. In an interview published in The Press on May 21, Edwards said the combination of the City Council’s unwillingness to authorize competitive wages and their hostile attitude toward city employees have built up for months.
“It’s just the relationships,” Edwards said. “It’s just a constant battle with our council.”
In that interview, Edwards called on Dalton Gardens’ citizens to picket City Hall in protest until the matter was resolved. Nearly 400 showed up in-person and via Zoom to Monday’s council meeting, where many demanded the resignations of council members Carrie Chase, Ray Craft and Robert Wuest.
Not all demanded the resignations of Chase, Craft and Wuest, however. Others came to the embattled council members’ defense Monday night while calling for Edwards to resign. Others chastised The Press for telling what they believed was a one-sided story while airing the city’s dirty laundry. Others, still, said the May 21 interview was the first they’d heard of the division between employees and council.
Because Janzen’s last day was scheduled for Wednesday, Monday was the council’s last scheduled opportunity to approve a city clerk nomination, which they did on a 2 - 1 vote. Only three council members were present for that vote because Craft left mid-meeting after complaining of falling ill.
Edwards told The Press that Janzen, after taking a day to think about the offer, informed him late Tuesday night she would accept the clerk/treasurer position. However, when asked by this reporter Wednesday whether or not she had accepted the job, Janzen declined comment. When asked if City Hall would remain open today, Friday or Tuesday, Janzen declined comment.
When asked to clarify his earlier assertion that Janzen had taken the job, Edwards said he and council were informed Wednesday morning by Dalton Gardens city attorney Caitlin Kling — who, it’s worth noting, is also resigning — that three of the council’s four members had to approve Janzen’s nomination, rather than have it pass by a simple majority. Chase voted ‘no,’ while Craft’s illness-related absence prevented a third ‘yes’ vote.
Edwards is organizing an emergency meeting for 4 p.m. today. City Hall is usually open Mondays through Thursdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Its permitting office is usually open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. But today and Friday, at least, Dalton Gardens will remain closed, Edwards said.
Neither Wuest, Chase, nor Craft responded to requests for comment. Janzen declined to comment, as did Kling, who wrote in an email that the matter would be addressed at the 4 p.m. emergency meeting.