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City recorder rescinds resignation

after letter accidentally read aloud

 

By James Tilson

Staff writer

Feb. 22, 2018

 

MT PLEASANT—The Mt Pleasant city recorder submitted her letter of resignation during last week’s city council meeting, although the resignation was not accepted by Mayor Sandra Bigler and was later rescinded by the recorder.

Jane Banks gave her letter to Bigler, who read the letter in open council at the Tuesday, Feb. 13 meeting. In her letter, Banks said she must offer her resignation because of “certain council members’ blatant disregard for my statutory position.”

She also said that those council members “operated in a most unethical manner,” and she had been “harassed and discriminated against because of my age and gender.”

After reading the letter into the record, Mayor Bigler stated she was “shocked” by the letter, and too upset to continue to preside over the meeting. She asked Mayor Pro-Tem Justin Atkinson to take over presiding the meeting, and left the meeting.

After the meeting, when the mayor, council members and Banks were reached for comment on the letter, all agreed the offer of resignation was not accepted and Banks would be continuing in her position as City Recorder.

Banks said that she meant for the letter to be for the mayor alone, and did not mean for it to be read into the record at the council meeting. But she accepts that it was, and will work to deal with the repercussions.

Banks said she wrote the letter at a time when she was overwrought by personal issues concerning her family, and thus overreacted. She said Mayor Bigler did not accept her resignation, and Banks will continue on in her position. Banks also said she will issue a formal apology to the council members via private correspondence.

Mayor Bigler confirmed that she had not accepted Banks’ letter, and Banks will continue as City Recorder. Bigler said that she felt Banks had written the letter while Banks was “under duress” and “too stressed out.”

Bigler met with two members of the council, Kevin Stallings and Dan Anderson, on the Wednesday after the council meeting, and then later with Justin Atkinson. She discussed the possibility of a “new position” with the city. She felt those meetings were “very peaceful” and productive.

Bigler said she is against closed sessions in general. She thinks the public has a right to know about city business. Bigler said she was not briefed on the closed session before-hand, and chose not to participate because “she didn’t feel good about it.”  The only reason she would consider a closed session would be in matters concerning city personnel matters.

During her conversations with the council members, she did not know what happened at the closed session and did not ask. She said she continues to believe that the council and recorder can work together as before.

Councilman Justin Atkinson said the letter of resignation “was a surprise, and I wasn’t expecting it.”  However, he did not agree with the basis of the letter; “I think the allegations are unfounded.”

Councilman Kevin Stallings agreed that “everyone was surprised” by Banks’ letter. He said that he was glad that the letter had not been accepted, and the council would be able to continue working with Banks.

Stallings was able to talk more about what had been occurring with council members prior to the closed session. Stallings and other council members had been working together to reorganize the city administration, in order to be more efficient and address city needs better.

Stallings said that prior to the closed session, he had met with the city’s financial officer in order to make sure that a new city position could be funded without eliminating any current city employees. Once he received that assurance, Stallings and other council members decided to hold a closed session to discuss their plans to open a new position with the city.

Stallings said that the council had requested that Banks not attend the closed session, so as to forestall any speculation on plans that had not been fully formed.

Councilwoman Heidi Kelso did not want to comment, as she was only attending by telephone, and could not hear clearly everything that had been said. Councilmen Dan Anderson and Keith Collier did not respond to requests to comment.