By Todd Wels
Triplicate staff writer
In a move that angered two of his fellow city councilors, Crescent City Mayor Michael Scavuzzo named himself City Clerk pro tem Monday to replace the outgoing Kathleen Smith.
The replacement will be temporary, with Scavuzzo donating the City Clerks salary to the Crescent City Volunteer Fire Department and KidTown. Once the council has named a permanent replacement, Scavuzzo said he would step down.
Scavuzzo said he is taking the position to level the electoral field this November and to donate the money to the fire department and KidTown.
Prior to making the announcement, Scavuzzo donated $100 of his own money to each of the two organizations.
City Councilman George Mayer accused Scavuzzo of trying to interfere with the councils stated policy of interviewing applicants for the replacement.
I dont think it would work out, Mike. I dont agree with it. Mayer said.
Councilman Jack Burlake expressed concern that Scavuzzo would, on paper, draw a salary for the position. He alleged that the statute which gave Scavuzzo the power to name a clerk pro tem referred only to someone nominated to replace the clerk at meetings where the clerk was unable to attend.
He argued that the statute does not give Scavuzzo the ability to grant someone the clerks position, complete with a bi-weekly salary of more than $600.
City Attorney Dohn Henion, with whom Scavuzzo had consulted prior to his announcement, disagreed with Burlake.
There is nothing to indicate that the clerk pro tem could not receive a salary, he said.
Under the statute, Scavuzzo was not required to consult the council before making the appointment.
In a meeting with The Daily Triplicate held before the announcement, Scavuzzo said a review of the statutes indicated that holding both positions did not constitute a conflict of interest, especially since he would be donating the clerks salary to KidTown and the fire department.
He said he hoped the council would choose to allow him to remain in the position pending the outcome of the November election, rather than fill the position with less than 114 days to go.
Scavuzzo said an appointee would have an unfair advantage over challengers in the election, since they would be running as an appointed incumbent.
Scavuzzo, who is up for reelection to the City Council in November, did not rule out the possibility that he would run for the clerks seat instead.
After the announcement, Burlake said Scavuzzos announcement will probably have the effect of speeding up the search for an interim replacement for Smith, whose resignation is effective July 17.