PLEASANT HILL -- Frustrated by repeated delays in getting complete meeting minutes for the past year, four council members have called on embattled City Clerk Kim Lehmkuhl to resign.
This saga has been dragging on since January, when it came to light that Lehmkuhl failed to produce council meeting minutes during her entire first year in office, despite repeated entreaties from city staffers and council members.
The City Council on Monday was scheduled to approve the final 11 sets of outstanding minutes dating back to February 2013, which city staffers hastily produced when it became clear Lehmkuhl wasn't going to meet the March 31 deadline.
Concerned about mistakes in the documents before them, the council gave the staff until May 12 to provide accurate and complete minutes up through Monday's meeting.
The decision was a tacit admission that council members no longer have confidence in Lehmkuhl.
"I view this as just another issue that tells me the city clerk isn't able to do her job," said Councilman Michael Harris, who renewed his call for Lehmkuhl's resignation.
At the March 24 meeting, Lehmkuhl assured the council that she would complete the outstanding minutes by March 31.
During the week before the deadline, Lehmkuhl did not respond to at least one phone call from the staff to discuss the minutes, according to City Manager June Catalano. Since Lehmkuhl had partially drafted just three sets of the remaining 11 meetings, several staffers and a professional minutes taker worked through the weekend of March 29 to complete all 11 meetings, according to Catalano.
"We sent her the draft minutes on the 31st asking her to edit and certify them, and we did not hear back from her until yesterday," Catalano said Tuesday.
On Monday, Lehmkuhl blasted the staff's work, saying the minutes were poorly written and riddled with errors. She certified just one set, from the May 6 meeting.
"I do not turn in incompetent work and I will not sign off on incompetent work," she said.
Councilman David Durant suggested that the council postpone approving the minutes.
"It's clear to me that this was a bit of a rush job," said Durant, who added that he was frustrated that Lehmkuhl hadn't edited the minutes before the council received them. Saying he is "tired of explanations and excuses," Durant called on Lehmkuhl to step down.
Councilman Ken Carlson appeared exasperated by the situation. Resignation would be the easy way out for Lehmkuhl who should be fired instead, he argued. But since that decision is up to the voters, Carlson also urged her to leave office.
"The time is now for you to resign, to pack your bags and go," he said.
Councilman Jack Weir has also called for Lehmkuhl's resignation.
Voters will decide in November whether to change the city clerk position from elected to appointed. The election will cost Pleasant Hill about $19,000. If voters approve making the position appointed, a staff member who answers to the city manager will assume the clerk's duties. The change would go into effect after Lehmkuhl's term expires in 2016.
But Lehmkuhl could be tossed out of office this fall. A group of residents is trying to collect the 3,800 signatures required to place a recall on the November ballot. Residents who want to sign a recall petition can email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.recallphclerk.com for the locations where organizers will be collecting signatures.
Lisa P. White covers Concord and Pleasant Hill. Contact her at 925-943-8011. Follow her at Twitter.com/lisa_p_white.