Marek says ‘personal attacks’ were too much

REED CITY — After three years as the Reed City City Manager, Ron Marek submitted his resignation to the council on Monday, citing a work environment of “division, negativity, disrespect and unprofessional conduct.” The resignation had been submitted earlier Monday afternoon, but it was announced just seconds after councilwoman Darlene Fuller passed out a written motion, seeking to terminate his employment. “Although I strongly believe there have been numerous extraordinary projects that have benefited the citizens of Reed City through my term of service,” Marek wrote. “I believe that it is an undeniable reality that the current working environment has become one of division, negativity, disrespect and unprofessional conduct that has evolved to personal attacks that take precedence over the good of the citizens.” Marek said the sense of cooperation between members of the council has been lost. Attacks on him have escalated, making him feel ineffective as a manager. “Not only has the teamwork been lost, but the environment at the council meetings has been a very negative environment, very critical of me, very disrespectful of me and my position,” Marek said. “Some actions by certain council members were totally unorderly and offensive. At times I was embarassed to be a part of it.” The resignation was accepted by a vote of 4-3, with Mayor Bonnie Danzeisen and council members Marlene Fatum and David Bisbee voting not to accept the resignation. Council members Fuller, Dave Scharlow, Phil Rathbun and James Anderlohr voted in favor of accepting Marek’s resignation. Fuller’s written motion, which she said was drafted Monday afternoon, cited an incident in September 2011 when Marek signed a contract to repair the city garage, and exceeded the city manager’s spending limit. It also mentioned Marek disposing of office contents by placing them in the city garbage. Some of the records may have “contained private employee identifying information,” Fuller wrote. Fuller declined to comment on the resignation at Monday’s council meeting, but later told the Herald Review she knew nothing about Marek’s plan to resign before presenting the motion to terminate his contract. “He has violated these sections of the charter,” Fuller said, noting that she does not believe she has been too harsh on Marek. “That is grounds for termination.” When asked her response to claims that her actions toward Marek were a personal attack, Fuller said she was motivated by sense of duty. “I would say that I think it’s unfounded,” Fuller said. “I think I have a responsibility as one of his employers to see that things are done correctly.This is not personal. This is just accountability.” Councilwoman Fatum was disappointed in the resignation and said the accusations Fuller made were uncalled for. “I, for one, don’t want to accept this,” said Fatum at the meeting. “We all make mistakes. I think he (Marek) has done more positive for this community than anything on this sheet that Darlene (Fuller) has listed.” In his resignation letter, Marek noted his inexperience in the administrative role as a hurdle he expected to jump with the support of council members when he was hired as city manager. “When I grew up, my parents owned a salvage yard. I was a welder. I was a heavy equipment operator. I was a worker and went to school and got a machine tool degree and a teaching degree,” Marek said. “I think certain council members may have been looking for or expecting someone with a PHD or a masters degree.” Fuller said she was aware of Marek’s lack of experience when he began the job, but still thought he deserved to be terminated for his mistakes. Along with the negativity he said he experienced, Marek also said he saw no future financially, citing a 1.5 percent raise in his three years of employment being a point of contention among council members. Marek said resigning was something he had thought about for a while. “I just hope the next person in my position will maybe do a better job than I did building the teamwork,” Marek said. Fuller said she wants to see an individual in the City Manager’s position who will “know how to manage budgets and have a background in labor relations.” Stating that spending too much time managing the political environment was beyond his ability and nature, Marek said he will pursue other opportunities in the community for employment. The resignation will be effective in 60 days, on Nov. 16. At that time, the council will appoint an interim City Manager. Marek encourages citizens to get involved in local government. “I ask that the citizens get out and vote,” Marek said. “Don’t just stop with the vote, attend the council meetings. See what’s going on.” Fuller will seek re-election in the Nov. 4 election along with Fatum and Scharlow. The incumbants will be challenged by Roger W. Meinert, Katelyn Scharlow, Karen Lea McKinney and Joanne Flinton. Anderlohr, will not seek re-election. The next meeting of the Reed City Council will be at 7 p.m. on Monday, Oct. 15 at Reed City City Hall.