Story and photos by JENNA BAILEY
Former DeFuniak Springs (DFS) City Clerk Loretta Laird has turned in her resignation as city clerk as of 4 p.m. on Thursday, May 9. A special DFS City Council meeting was held at the DFS Community Center at 6 p.m. on May 9 to discuss Laird’s resignation.
As reported in the Wednesday, May 8, 2019 issue of the Herald – Breeze, Laird submitted a 20-point complaint regarding what she perceived as a hostile work environment at DFS City Hall. Laird expressed belief that the alleged unfair treatment towards her was in retaliation due to Laird’s upholding of city and state rules and laws. Additionally, Laird requested to be immediately transferred to the DeFuniak Springs Police Department as City Marshal James Hurley’s Executive Administrative Assistant.
According to Laird, on April 29, 2019, City Marshal Hurley requested that Laird be moved to the police department to be his executive administrative assistant. In response to the transfer request, DFS City Manager Mell Smigielski told the Herald-Breeze, “The only statement I am will[ing] to give is there is no executive assistant position open at the Police Department.” City Marshal Hurley did not wish to make a formal statement regarding the complaint letter. Additionally, the Herald-Breeze has not received any formal statement by DFS Mayor Bob Campbell; Loretta Laird; or council member Todd Bierbaum.
Laird provided the city with an offer of $52,500 to waive all claims listed in the letter. At the May 9 special meeting, City Attorney Clay Adkinson requested that city council accept Laird’s resignation and offer. The resignation and offer were accepted by the council. The $52,500 includes Laird’s due vacation time.
Following the approval of the resignation and offer, City Attorney Adkinson requested that the city council formally ratify Secretary to the Mayor Cynthia Permenter’s title as Deputy City Clerk. This request was approved by the council.