Urbana’s Interim Comptroller Resigns
By Sean Powers
The interim comptroller for the city of Urbana has resigned from his post, saying he has had enough of what he calls a "toxic environment," marred by bullying and intimidation.
Just before the Urbana City Council approved the city’s annual budget on Monday night, Interim Comptroller Bill DeJarnette gave an update on the numbers.
After he was done, he stated, “I am formally announcing my retirement effective immediately – July 2 – whatever works for HR.”
DeJarnette’s announcement came after the city council voted on Mayor Laurel Prussing’s request not to re-appoint Accounting Supervisor Liz Walden, who has been with the city for nearly 25 years.
Walden said she was given no explanation about why she was losing her job.
"The news of his decision came as a total shock to me, and has made me phyiscally ill," Walden told members of the city council. "There has never been a deficiency in my performance."
Her husband is former Urbana chief administrative officer, Bruce Walden, who Prussing let go in 2007. During her tenure as mayor, Prussing said there have been four people that she has not re-appointed.
DeJarnette did not address Liz Walden’s termination, but made it clear he was not happy with the treatment of city staff
“I’ll not hunker down and look over my shoulder every day in the hopes that I’ll get missed and I’m able to survive a shuffle to retirement as many others have,” DeJarnette said.
“I’d like to apologize to my staff,” he added. “They’re hardworking and loyal to the city of Urbana, and while my decision will come as a shock, it is not without much deliberation. But if I quietly stood by and acted water cooler brave, it would show that I condone this behavior, and I do not.”
After the city council adjourned, Prussing defended the work environment at city hall, calling DeJarnette’s claims “off-base.”
“I think most people understand that the atmosphere here was vastly changed when I got to be mayor, and it was changed for the better,” she said. “I think he’s done some very good work. I’m sorry to see him leave.”
Prussing said she is going to name an interim comptroller soon, and then begin a search for a permanent replacement.