One worker is running clerk's office

Council plans to hire two temps for the clerk's office.
YOUNGSTOWN -- And then there was one.
About a month ago, the city clerk of council's office had a staff of four. But the only employee in the office for the past few days is Faith C. O'Nesti, first assistant clerk who's worked for the city for more than 30 years.
Council voted 4-3 on Feb. 15 to fire Arlene D.T. Bahar as clerk, a job she held since October 1998. The first deputy clerk is ill and hasn't been at city hall the past few days. Also, an intern resigned before council fired Bahar.
"If Faith had to take a day off now, there would be nobody here," said Councilman Mark Memmer, D-7th, one of the four who voted to fire Bahar.
Memmer said he and O'Nesti contacted Callos Companies, a Market Street temporary employee agency, to send r & eacute;sum & eacute;s of people interested in working on a temporary, part-time basis in the clerk's office.
Council would hire two temps for jobs that pay $9 an hour -- also Callos is paid $3.60 an hour for placing the employees -- for about 25 hours a week, Memmer said. The two could start as early as Tuesday.
Also, Memmer said O'Nesti is expected to be hired as city clerk on a temporary basis.
Councilman Paul Pancoe, D-5th, who voted to fire Bahar, said if O'Nesti leaves the office for any reason, it is vacant and that's unacceptable.
"It's a big concern," said Councilman Artis Gillam Sr. of having one person in the office. "We're going to get some part-time help."
Gillam's suit
Gillam voted to fire Bahar and filed a civil lawsuit against her saying a letter she wrote to council accusing him of sexual harassment caused him "public hatred, contempt, ridicule, shame and/or disgrace."
The city clerk works at the pleasure of council and can be fired at any time. Bahar received $62,886 in salary last year, and O'Nesti earned $49,143 last year.
After firing Bahar, Memmer and Gillam said there was no time frame to replace her. The firing was such a difficult decision that a follow-up plan to replace her wasn't ironed out, Memmer said.
But Memmer said Wednesday that it's been three weeks since Bahar's firing and replacing her doesn't seem to be a priority among his fellow council members.
"I find that odd, particularly because right now we're down to one individual," he said. "It's troubling to me."
Gillam said council will advertise for the position after an internal audit of the clerk's office is finished.
Councilman Rufus Hudson, D-2nd, who voted against Bahar's firing, said if he were asked for input, he would suggest hiring an intern.
"I think that those who decided what they did should have taken into account staffing needs before they did it," Hudson said. "Since no action was taken, I figured they knew what to do next."

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