February 10, 2014

Audubon's longtime city clerk would remain in her job for at least six more months - if she agrees to abide by certain city council requirements - under a deal that might be approved by council members tonight, the clerk, Lora Hansen, confirmed this morning.

The issue is set to be discussed at a 7 p.m. meeting at City Hall. Five of the meeting's agenda items are related to the clerk's job, which has been a hot topic in town since the council's abrupt - and illegal - vote on Jan. 13 to replace Hansen, who has had the job for 26 years.

Council members voted 4-1 to replace her with another woman, but violated two state laws in the process - they had failed to post the agenda item in public 24 hours prior, nor did they advertise the job for 10 days as part of a state law that gives preference to veterans for public jobs.

Some have alleged that the potential clerk replacement is the result of a feud between Hansen and Councilman John Whetzal.

The two met on Jan. 31 to discuss the issue, along with Mayor Sam Kauffman, interim City Attorney Dave Wiederstein and Hansen's attorney, Hansen told the Daily Times Herald today.

That meeting led to a tentative agreement in which Hansen would be appointed interim city clerk with "certain expectations." Hansen said this morning that she could not recall the expectations because she didn't write them down.

"Nobody had said anything to me about any of this stuff before," Hansen said.

But the council will also have the option tonight to appoint a different city clerk, according to the meeting's agenda. Kauffman sought applicants for the job for the past 11 days.

His wife, Lois, said by telephone this morning that three or four people had applied.

Other agenda items related to the clerk's job tonight include a review of the council's actions by Audubon County Attorney Francine Andersen - who did not return a telephone call this morning to comment for this article - a vote to "rescind and void" the Jan. 13 vote, and comments from at least one resident about the issue.