MANTUA _ A barrage of allegations directed at councilwoman Marcie Zorn by village administrator Ed Trego during a public meeting Monday resulted in village council placing Trego on paid administrative leave.
Council took action during a stormy meeting attended by more than 40 residents. During the meeting Trego alleged Zorn has been engaging in unethical activities in an attempt to undermine his position as administrator.
After an executive session lasting nearly two hours, council voted without discussion to place Trego on paid administrative leave. The vote was 4-0 with Zorn and Councilman Paul Janson abstaining.
Following the vote Councilman Phil Sage said the council will be holding a special meeting Feb. 13 to discuss the issue.
Sage said placing Trego on administrative leave was not a punitive action, but rather an attempt to create a "cooling off" period for all involved.
"What we've done is act in the best interest of the village," said Sage. "We need time to let things settle out and to decide on what direction we're going to take with this."
The executive session and decision to place Trego on administrative leave followed a statement made during the meeting's open session by Trego accusing Zorn of accessing personnel records in the village clerk-treasurer's office and possibly using them to pursue her political agenda.
Trego also said he has been having difficulty getting access to clerk-treasurer records and said it seemed unreasonable a council member should have "free access" while the administrator is "struggling" for access.
"I believe that Marcie Zorn has shown a distinct pattern of 'laws apply to everyone but me' and has been operating under a double standard," said Trego.
At several times during the statement Zorn interrupted Trego to dispute the allegations, at one point saying flatly, "What you're saying is simply not true."
After the meeting Zorn said Trego's allegations were unfounded.
"I was in the office helping the clerk-treasurer get the books updated. I did look at the personnel records as part of an investigation I'm doing regarding a township employee, but on the advice of the village solicitor I can't talk about that investigation until I have more facts," she said.
Several members of the audience expressed dismay that Trego had been allowed to make his comments in open session.
"I am appalled that you would allow an employee of the village to attack a member of the council in open session. This is something that should have come out in executive session and not in public. It was wrong," said Norm Erickson, who is a member of the Crestwood Board of Education.
Sage apologized for not cutting off Trego sooner.
"In this case we should have gone into executive session to discuss this problem," he said. "He should not have been permitted to make those comments in open session."
Although unsure what action the council would take at the special meeting, Sage was supportive of the administrator.
"If you look at Mr. Trego's record you'll see that he has done an excellent job," he said. "We need to get beyond this so that he can continue to serve the village."
Trego has worked for the village since June 1984, first serving as street commissioner. He was became the village administrator in 1987 when the post was created by combining the duties of street commissioner, water and wastewater superintendent and purchasing agent.
After the vote Trego said everything was "clear as mud to me. We've got lots of things that need to be done and I don't know who is going to do them. A 'cooling off' period is fine, as long as it means the business of the village will be attended to."
Sage said while Trego is on unpaid leave the administrator's duties will be carried out as necessary by other village employees.