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Nargizian’s absence might presage a permanent one

By Dan Hust
MONTICELLO — March 19, 2010 — Monday’s Monticello Village Board meeting featured neither Trustee Scott Schoonmaker nor Manager Ray Nargizian.
Schoonmaker’s absence went unexplained and turned out not to be a focus of board discussion. Instead, trustees turned their attention on Nargizian.
“Where is the manager?” Deputy Mayor TC Hutchins wondered.
Village Clerk John LiGreci said Nargizian had told him he would be gone for two weeks, “but I’m not quite sure.”
Trustee Carmen Rue added that Nargizian informed her he would be back on Wednesday, March 17.
“But you’re not the whole board,” Hutchins responded to Rue. “There’s a communication breakdown… Who’s taking care of the day-to-day duties?”
“The bottom line is the manager should have some respect to the board,” Mayor Gordon Jenkins agreed, noting he had not been informed either. “Even if the manager doesn’t have communications with the mayor, he still can put something in my box.”
Hutchins wanted a “memo” put in Nargizian’s file, but instead the board agreed to have LiGreci forward department head issues to Jenkins in Nargizian’s absence.
There was no formal vote, but Rue seemed to disagree based on worries that too much power would thus rest in the mayor’s hands.
On Wednesday, Nargizian did indeed return to work. He didn’t understand the assumption at Monday’s meeting that he was “on vacation,” noting that he had made the staff well aware that he was taking Monday and Tuesday off for medical reasons.
He acknowledged he had not informed the mayor directly of his absence, but he had told LiGreci.
“Anything that happens in this office, John runs to Gordon and tells him about it,” Nargizian countered.
A tense relationship – or lack thereof – has long existed between Jenkins and Nargizian, and the manager said he expects to be fired if both Hutchins and Rev. James Matthews prove to be the winners when absentee ballots are counted from Tuesday’s election. (See unofficial results on today’s front page.)
Even if they don’t win, Nargizian didn’t promise he’d stay.
“I’ll cross that road when I get to it,” he explained.
LiGreci would neither confirm nor deny rumors he’s been approached to replace Nargizian, saying it’s not appropriate to discuss it unless and until Nargizian is no longer manager.
“There’s only one manager at a time,” he remarked.
But, he added, if he was to be approached about the position, he would consider it and be open to further talks.
Jenkins confirmed yesterday that LiGreci is under consideration.
“I have talked to John about it, yes,” the mayor said.
However, he did not believe Nargizian is destined to be terminated.
“No, Ray’s not going to be fired,” Jenkins explained. “He’s just got to work for the board.”
After Tuesday’s elections are certified, Jenkins expects Nargizian will be brought before the board and asked where his loyalties lie.
“Ray has aligned himself as running the village and making decisions without the board,” Jenkins charged.
If he promises to work with and for the board, Jenkins indicated Nargizian may remain.
“Otherwise, he can resign,” he added.
Nargizian is in the second year of a three-year contract with the village, however, and if he resigns, he stands to lose a variety of benefits – including an additional six months’ pay – he would otherwise receive if he was fired.

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