The Vernon Township Council unanimously appointed a new township clerk on Monday, over the objection of members of the public.
The council approved Marcy Gianattasio as the township clerk - replacing Lauren Kirkman - for a three-year term with an effective start date of Dec. 26, five days before the new township mayor Howard Burrell and new councilmembers current Mayor Harry Shortway and Kelly Weller.
She will receive a base pay of $80,000 per year.
Several township residents objected to the appointment of a new township clerk at the final meeting of the year before the new township council takes office in 2020.
“This is disingenuous,” township resident Jessi Paladini said. “You are binding a future council and it’s outrageous that you consider our town such a joke that you would hire a position like a clerk in the manner in which you had.”
Council President Jean Murphy said on Wednesday the township immediately received resumes and scheduled a meeting on Saturday Dec. 7.
Four of the five members of the township council were at the Dec. 7 meeting.
“No one from the public attended to comment during the public portion,” Murphy said.
Gianattasio was also appointed in a separate resolution as part of the consent agenda as the township’s Registrar of Vital Statistics.
Gianattasio was previously the acting township clerk in Rockaway Township, but her but was not interviewed in a controversial decision in 2018. She was replaced by Christina Clipperton.
“It is so obvious that you did no research,” Paladini said. “If I could research it in five minutes. You had days and a few weeks. Are you going to bring another train wreck into Vernon?”
Kirkman resigned her position effective Dec. 6 and filed a tort claim notice seeking $350,000 for alleged health issues suffered as a result of a “hostile work environment”. She filed the claim and followed with her resignation letter.
Kirkman was appointed as town clerk in 2014 and her reappointment in 2017 made her a tenured employee.
The township posted an original advertisement for the township clerk position with an application date of Nov. 26 until Dec. 25.
“If you appoint a clerk without the input of the incoming council, who will be taking over in just a couple of weeks, you’re doing something unethical,” township resident Steve Dunlop said. “I think people who are not going to be on this council should not have a say.”
Murphy said the public has the right to comment.
“But it’s up to the Council to vote,” she said.
“If you appoint a clerk without the input of the incoming council, who will be taking over in just a couple of weeks, you’re doing something unethical. I think people who are not going to be on this council should not have a say.”