THORNVILLE – Council Clerk Danielle Lovett tendered her resignation effective immediately during Monday night’s Thornville Village Council meeting.
In her letter of resignation, Lovett said a letter to the editor council member Olivia Newbold submitted to The Beacon prompted her action.
According to Lovett’s letter of resignation, “I would like to start by thanking you for the opportunity to be the Village of Thornville’s clerk of council. This position seemed a perfect fit for my schedule and family. It is with much disappointment that I must resign from this position.
“During my employment with the village, as the clerk of council, I have been subjected to questions of my integrity and professionalism. Most of this intimidation was through emails between myself and Councilwoman Olivia Newbold, while attempting to perform my duties. It became so hostile, that in my reply on August 24, 2016, I told Councilwoman Newbold that if she believes that I am not qualified for this position, or not performing satisfactorily, that I suggest she request an Executive Session to discuss it further with council and the mayor. Unfortunately, she instead chose to attack me in an editorial in the Buckeye Lake Beacon, as well as in another email dated Friday, October 21, 2016.”
Lovett continued, “This action crossed a line, and to my understanding, is against protocol. Councilwoman Newbold has not indicated that she will submit a retraction and it has become clear that the village is unable to protect its employees from slander and libel.
“I would like to thank all of the Village employees and other council members who put their faith in me for this experience. This resignation is effective immediately. I will clarify that this is only for my position as Clerk of Council; I will be keeping my position as Zoning Secretary.”
Lovett said legal counsel advised her not to comment further on the situation.
Although members of the public and media requested audio copies of Monday night’s meeting, Thornville Administrator Beth Patrick said copies would not be immediately available because for the time being the village has no clerk to process public records requests.
Council president Heidi Robinson acknowledged that the contentious nature of recent council meetings is interfering with council’s ability to conduct business. In a statement to The Beacon, Robinson said, “In respect to the atmosphere of some of the recent council meetings, I find it exhausting and embarrassing that council and residents cannot work out their differences calmly and maturely. The meetings have become disruptive and unproductive and have lost focus of what we were elected to do in the first place. Council’s job is to pass legislation, not to mediate disputes.”
Robinson continued, “It disappoints and saddens me that during our October council meeting our Clerk of Council resigned due to the current situation. (Thank you Danielle for all your hard work). Thornville is a small village and a great community to live in; we as residents, employees and elected officials need work together, not tear each other apart.”
Newbold also submitted a statement, “It is disappointing to see my hometown government conducted in the way it has been recently. If villagers agree with the assertion that council meetings ‘have a circus atmosphere,’ villagers should demand answers from the ‘ringmaster’ of that circus. I’ve been on council for about a year and during that time, I spearheaded, along with former council member Ryan Yzenski, the renovation of the volleyball courts; I’ve walked the streets to ask villagers their opinions concerning the weed and grass ordinance and the livestock ordinance; I’ve fought for the right of citizens to speak freely during council meetings; and I am currently working on the development of an economic plan that will hopefully revitalize the downtown area.”
Newbold continued, “I have persevered with these projects while defending an unfounded Ohio Attorney General’s public records request mediation, (which was requested by a former Village employee and which cost the village tax dollars), and complying with almost monthly requests for all of my emails with the mayor’s neighbor, which also cost the taxpayers money. In my opinion, shocking amounts of time, energy, and village tax dollars are being misused. As an example, the village has paid the village solicitor $19,298.00 during the last nine months. It’s my duty to question how taxpayer funds are used, and I intend to keep asking those questions.”
Thornville Mayor Gavin Renner submitted a lengthy statement to The Beacon. According to his statement, “At Monday’s meeting, council passed the social media guidelines for council members. This provides guidance for what should be posted on social media by council members in their official capacity and best represent the Village for the benefit of all residents. Social media has its advantages as a communications platform. Council members are responsible to act as good stewards of the information and calls to action they post. It can get complicated when public officials mix their private lives online with village business. I think it’s best to keep those separate.”
Editor’s Note: Due to the space required for election letters this week, we must complete Renner’s statement next week.