Pleasant Hill City Clerk Kimberly Lehmkuhl leaves city voters no choice: They must sign the recall petition, if they want to restore professionalism to the position.
Lehmkuhl was elected in fall 2012 and, during her first year in office, produced no City Council meeting minutes. Rather than perform the most important task of her job, for which she is paid $7,020 a year, she has spent her time sending out thousands of tweets while blaming others for why she can't complete the minutes.
Since the story first appeared in this newspaper in January and went viral on Bay Area television, Lehmkuhl has dragged out every dog-ate-my-homework excuse she can dream up. Last week she claimed city staff and the council had "thrown me under the bus."
Most appalling, she tried to blame city staff for not providing her the training she needed. What a crock. In fact, staff members repeatedly reached out to her, and she ignored their calls.
City officials expect that, finally, on Monday, a deadline set by the council, the backlog of council meeting minutes should be wiped out. But that's only because city staff and contractors hired at taxpayer expense have done about half the work.
This newspaper and three council members have seen enough and called for her resignation. As Councilman David Durant said, "You ran for the job, you took the job, it's your responsibility to learn what it entails. I have zero stomach for that level of unaccountability."
This embarrassing episode raises two issues:
First, should the city clerk be elected, or changed to an appointed position that reports to the city manager, the model used by most California cities now? The council voted last week to ask voters in November whether to switch. The answer is yes.
The job is an administrative one. As we've seen, when an elected clerk fails to perform, it's costly and difficult to remove her. Had Lehmkuhl been accountable to the city manager, she would have been fired by now.
Second, there's the issue what to do about Lehmkuhl. She's incompetent and must go. She refuses to resign. And even if voters decide in November to make her position an appointed one, Lehmkuhl would still be entitled to serve the remaining two years of her term.
This costly charade would continue another 24 months, unless voters simultaneously recall her. To do that, they must first sign the recall petition to place that separate issue on the same November ballot.
For information on signing the petition, Pleasant Hill registered voters should email TakebackPleasantHill@comcast.net. Please do so.