LEHIGH - The Lehigh City Council voted Wednesday evening in favor of keeping its city clerk after she was suspended earlier this week.
City Clerk Wanda Ganeff was suspended for one week with pay Monday after an allegation that she had a approached a city employee on their personal property about payment of a building permit.
City maintenace employee Paul Fawcett claimed that he was approached in his yard Friday, which was his day off, by Ganeff, who told him "strongly" that he had a building permit on the City Council agenda that needed to be paid, Lehigh Mayor Paula Martin said.
Martin said Ganeff had also been "harping" at Fawcett to obtain his CDL driver's license so that he would be able to operate city vehicles and equipment, a requirement for him to be able to move snow from the city streets and properties in the winter.
"Wanda approached him about 3:30 in the afternoon and pretty strongly said, 'Hey you've got a permit on the agenda. You need to pay for that,'" said Martin. "He said, 'I was going to.' She said, 'You need to pay for that now.' So he paid her and she handed him Joe's (Tuel, Lehigh city councilman) packet and said you can deliver that for me. And you also harped at him about the CDL license again, which has been going on on a daily basis. He said he couldn't come in the office without being harped at. He knows he needs to get it."
Several Lehigh residents, council members and Ganeff's family spoke in her favor.
Her husband, Jim Ganeff, said it's the city clerk's job to make sure the city employees have all of their requirements met and that residents pay their bills, and that it may not make the clerk the most popular person in town.
"If a city clerk is doing their job well, they may not be the favorite person in town," said Jim Ganeff.
"It doesn't sound like you are upset about her work, you are upset with her personality," said City Councilman Darrel Grossnickle. "I've heard more than just the city clerk yelling at Joe Public."
"All this is is a bunch of hearsay," said Ganeff's son, Adam Ganeff. "No one knows if any of this is true. I'm not accusing anyone of lying, but it is all hearsay."
Several people in attendance pointed out that Fawcett, who made the allegation, was not there to present his side.
"If he's not here to share his half of the story, then why is this even an issue?" asked Bradley Ganeff, another Ganeff son. "If he isn't here to defend his point, then what is the point?"
Lehigh Fire Chief Kirk Kelley also spoke in support of Ganeff.
"She does a good job for us," said Kelley. "Personally, I like her a lot. I don't know what the whole situation is, but I think that we need to band together a little more as city employees. There's kind of drama everywhere."
Martin cited a probationary period in 2010 and another in August this year as leading up to the suspension. She claimed Ganeff used too much work time to use city computers for personal use and took too many personal telephone calls.
Councilman Mark Johnson said he did not feel he had a right to make a decision to fire any city employees having only been on the council for a year.
"I don't feel I've got the right to hire or fire any city employee from what I've seen," he said. "I don't know if everything is done adequately all of the time. That's going to happen sometimes, but you've also got to make guidelines and standards you are supposed to abide by. You're dealing with a small town where a decision affects friends and neighbors for their whole lives."
Martin said it was up to the council to either keep or terminate Ganeff.
"It is not up to me to hire or fire anyone," she said.
The council voted 3-2 to keep Ganeff employed by the city, with the suspension in effect until Monday. Grossnickle abstained from the vote.