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Secrecy shrouds resignations of clerk, top cops

Staff writers

Closed-door meetings scheduled for Monday but postponed to Friday may finally shed light on why three top Marion employees have resigned.

Police chief Clinton Jeffrey confirmed in an email to the Record that he and assistant chief Steve Janzen had resigned and that their last day would be Dec. 27. The chief’s wife, city clerk Tiffany Jeffrey, confirmed by email that she also had resigned. Her last day will be Jan. 3.

All three declined to comment further.

Records earlier requested by the newspaper list Janzen’s salary at $49,046, Clinton Jeffrey’s at $53,955, and Tiffany Jeffrey’s at $51,230.

Janzen also has worked as a consultant for the city’s water treatment plant and was paid $288 for that.

The rash of resignations began after council members met behind closed doors Dec. 13 with Brian Bina, the city’s attorney, but not with city administrator Mark Skiles. The meeting was unusual for two reasons. Bina rarely attends meetings in person. Skiles typically sits in on executive sessions.

Two additional executive sessions were initially scheduled for Monday — the first with the council and Bina and the second with the council, Bina and Skiles. But they then were moved to Friday.

“The mayor is in the hospital and suffering from health problems,” Tiffany Jeffrey said in an email Monday.

Mayor David Mayfield, she wrote, “intends to be released and well enough” to meet at 4:30 p.m. Friday for the council’s next regularly scheduled meeting. The council usually meets Mondays but is meeting Friday because of Christmas.

Of the executive sessions, Bina would say only that the council was meeting to discuss personnel issues involving non-elected officials.

Skiles has declined to comment on the meetings and the resignations.

County commission chairman David Mueller first confirmed last week that two of Marion’s four police officers had resigned and that the sheriff’s office would assume responsibility for much of the policing in Marion.

“Sheriff Soyez just called to inform me that half the police force in Marion quit,” Mueller wrote in the memo shared with the Record. “I didn’t ask why, don’t need to know. He asked the city administrator to keep his two remaining officers on day shift to better help the sheriff’s office manage coverage. He is very concerned about the additional work for his staff, but they will get the job done.”

Marion’s police force already was down one member after the resignation of officer Aaron Slater, who accepted a position as a deputy sheriff and took his drug-sniffing dog, Blue, with him to the sheriff’s department.

Persistent rumors suggest that last week’s resignations were linked to the 30-minute executive session that council member Zach Collett requested.

In an unprecedented move, a Record reporter was asked during the closed-door session to move farther away than usual, behind a second set of closed doors, so no part of the meeting could be overheard.

Rumors have suggested that the resignations were in protest of an unspecified disciplinary action that those who resigned thought should have been taken at that meeting.

The Record on Dec. 15 requested under the Kansas Open Records Act copies of any written or electronic communication that might shed light on the situation. The city turned over several emails Tuesday, but none involved the resignations or the reason for closed-door meetings.

The city charged the Record $55.31 for the emails.

After becoming aware of Mueller’s memo to county commissioners, the Record requested a copy. It promptly was provided without the Record having to make a formal request under KORA.

“With (Soyez’s) workload,” Mueller wrote in the memo, “he asked that I inform the rest of the commission of the situation. I asked him if there was anything we could do to help, let us know. Told him he has the full support of the commission. I will keep you posted if I hear anything more.”

Last modified Dec. 22, 2022

 

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