An ongoing battle between Kingston Mayor Dexter Jones and City Clerk Michele Jones, no relation, came to a head Monday with the removal from office of Michele Jones made by the mayor.
Dexter Jones said he terminated the city clerk Monday, effective immediately. City Attorney Peter Olson, however, said that Michele Jones had been suspended without pay. The mayor cited dereliction of duty as reasoning behind his decision.
Olson pointed to an article in the Kingston City Charter spelling out administrative affairs concerning department heads which he feels describes the city clerk position.
"The mayor may suspend or remove directors under his supervision, but such suspension or removal shall not be effective for ten calendar days following the mayor's giving written notice of such action and the reason therefor to the director involved and to the city council. The director involved may appeal to the city council which, after a hearing, may override the mayor's action by a vote of three councilmembers," the charter states.
Due to circumstances surrounding the situation and the 10-day time requirement for such decisions to take effect, Olson said Michele Jones chose to take a suspension with pay until an appeal can be made.
The Kingston City Council was not consulted on the decision or made aware of the situation until after action was taken by the mayor. According to Councilman Louise Howell an unsigned typed note was left at her residence Monday notifying her the city clerk's termination.
The mayor, in disagreement with Olson, cites a separate charter entry entailing the powers and duties of mayor that the chief executive of the city shall "appoint and remove, for cause, with confirmation of appointment or removal by the council, all officers, department heads, and employees of the city, except as otherwise provided in this Charter."
A special meeting was called by councilmen Friday to be held Monday but was suspended due to the notification not running in The Daily Tribune News. The meeting was suspended and will instead be held Thursday at 7 p.m., at city hall to discuss personnel matters.