2018-05-10 / Views

On public information and a smooth transition

Jane Keen suffered through a few strange days after her retirement as Leland Township clerk.

People gathered to pay Ms. Keen well wishes on her last day in office on April 27. There was a strange mix of celebrating and lamenting as to how fast nearly 18 years of public service can travel. Three of her four children were in attendance; they all “face timed” with a sibling who couldn’t make it.

Ms. Keen spent the next few days trying to sleep in, but feeling guilty instead. “It was strange,” she recalled. “I felt like I was skipping school.”

Leelanau County has many dedicated township officials, but we wanted to talk about Ms. Keen in reference to two specific topics.

The first was public information. During her time in office, Ms. Keen held to a principle that she did not own one page of all the paperwork a clerk handles as part of his or her duties.

No, those pages were owned by the residents of the township. If someone asked for a study or minutes or a letter, she never felt like the request was burdensome or taking away from some other, more important part of her job.

No, she felt that was her job.

And the other was the manner in which she left office. Nearly 11 months ago Ms. Keen announced at a Township Board meeting that she planned to retire to spend more time with her 10 grandchildren. But she put no pressure on the Township Board to find a replacement, instead offering to stay on.

“I’m hoping somebody out there is interested ... there are certain things I’d be more than happy to come back and help with,” she said. “But it’s time.”

The Township Board did eventually agree to hire Lisa Brookfield as deputy clerk. Ms. Brookfield was ready to assume clerk duties by the time Ms. Keen retired.

It was a smooth transition for a very important office.

The timing met Jane’s self-imposed deadline, as she said she wanted to retire before her “big birthday” this summer when she turned 75.

We commend Jane for a job well done, and wish her many more birthdays.

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