by Jennifer Sierra
The citizens of Dayton have had many opinions and questions about the lawsuit filed against former Mayor Ken Rankle last week by the City of Dayton, Kentucky. Former city employee Joni Mallery, spoke with the Bellevue Dayton Sun about the lawsuit. She clarified some of the protocols set in place in the clerk’s office where she worked until December of 2014. “Invoices come in and get time-stamped for receipt, then they would go to appropriate mailboxes. If the mail needed to go to Dennis (the city manager at the time of the incident), it would go to his mailbox. If the mail went to Ken, it would go to his box. If checks need to be written and approved for an invoice or for a bill, Donna or I would cut the checks. Then the checks would go to Ken’s inbox for a signature. The bank only requires one signature on a check for it to be valid but the city requires 2 signatures on any checks. It is the clerk’s position to get the second signature or sign it and mail it out. The city clerk, Donna Leger never said anything until now. If she didn’t agree with how the funds were being spent or didn’t feel comfortable signing the check, why didn’t she go to the city attorney, Jack Fischer? Donna and Jack were the only other two people that could sign checks. Why is she waiting until now to speak out about checks written in 2011?”
If the reason the checks weren’t sent out with a second signature is because the city clerk was concerned with the allocation of funds, the clerk is protected under the law. The city clerk could have said something to now-deceased, city attorney, Jack Fischer or gone to council about the issue. Employees are protected under the Whistleblower Protection Act, preventing an employer from retaliating against an employee for reporting employer misconduct.
If having only one signature is a red flag as to misconduct with check-writing, than why wasn’t it caught during an audit? According to former Mayor Ken Rankle, he was handed stacks of checks at a time for signatures. He said during his time with the city, he knows countless checks were made to Cardinal Engineering. “I don’t even know where they keep the checks in the office. I wonder how many more checks were sent out with only one signature, “ Rankle stated. Joni Mallery said she remembered this happening before, “It wasn’t uncommon for checks to come back from the bank with only one signature. It is the clerk’s responsibility to get the second signature before sending the checks out to people.”
Council Member Joey Tucker made a public post on Facebook last week stating his position on the matter. “I’m breaking my own rule, but I have been asked countless times already so I will share my personal thoughts. To the first question, yes the pending litigation that the city is entering into with Mr. Rankle was voted on by council and those votes are a matter of public record as they were done outside of executive session. Unfortunately I was not present at that meeting so I was unable to vote on the matter. In my personal opinion for the record I would have voted against the decision to enter litigation. In my opinion I felt and feel the cons far outweigh the pros of taking such action.”
No minutes are kept during the executive session meetings that council holds so no one will ever know how the discussion went. The vote however, is public record since the city council must come out of executive session to vote on any matter. The vote will be available for the public to read once approved by council, which should happen at tonight’s city council meeting.