GREENFIELD — Mayor Dick Pasco is back in the hospital, and council President Mitch Pendlum has been appointed mayor pro tempore for at least the next few days.
It’s the third time this year Pasco has been hospitalized as he continues to fight off an infection in his liver.
Pasco, 65, went to Indiana University Health Monday morning for a checkup and to tell doctors that he is becoming weaker. Pasco had surgery in June that removed 35 percent of his liver, and he has been fighting infections and a lack of appetite ever since.
Doctors decided to admit him to the hospital; give him supplemental nourishment; and place a second drainage tube that should help alleviate infection.
“I knew there was a chance I may be admitted, but it wasn’t planned,” said Pasco.
The mayor said he’s hopeful he will recover, but he doesn’t know how long he will be in the hospital. Pendlum will serve as temporary mayor until Pasco returns.
“You know me – I hope for one night, but it may be three or four days,” Pasco said.
The position of mayor pro tempore is more of a title than anything. State statute allows any member of the city council to be appointed mayor pro tem, and the mayor can make an appointment if he is leaving for vacation or another extended period of time.
While technically the temporary mayor would have the full authority as mayor, Pendlum said he’ll make decisions only in case of an emergency.
“(It’s) just to fill in, in case somebody needs something and (Pasco) can’t be bothered,” Pendlum said.
Councilman Greg Carwein served as mayor pro tem the week of Pasco’s surgery, June 19-24. Pendlum was then appointed temporary mayor June 24-July 1 when Pasco wasn’t able to return to work as expected.
In July, Pasco slowly began getting back to work, though he would sometimes leave the office early due to fatigue. Since then, he’s been regularly coming to the office and attending city council and board meetings.
Council members Judy Swift and John Patton served as mayor pro tem two weekends in August and October when Pasco visited family in Ohio. Councilman Kerry Grass was mayor pro tem when Pasco had a drain placed in early November.
This week’s hospitalization could mark the longest since his June surgery.
Pasco is a cancer survivor: 13 years ago, he was told that he only had eight months to live. But he underwent surgery and experimental chemotherapy that cleared him of cancer.
But the experimental treatments are likely causing the complications now. He was open about his medical condition when he ran for mayor in 2011 and despite medical procedures and multiple rounds of antibiotics, the infection on Pasco’s liver has been difficult to knock out.
Even with Pasco’s medical ups and downs, Greenfield officials say city hall has run smoothly this year.
“I think everything we can do is getting done within the budget,” said Dan Reigelsperger, member of the city’s board of works. “We’re doing the best we can with our team.”
Reigelsperger was asked to lead today’s meeting of the board of works in Pasco’s absence. He refers to the city’s “team” as department heads, appointed officials and elected officials who carry on in the mayor’s absence.
Reigelsperger said his prayers and thoughts go out to the mayor. He says Pasco’s absence is similar to medical leaves in private businesses, where top company executives can take extended periods of absence and return to work.
“I think he’s doing really a good job in this situation in the interim, (and) I really don’t see a problem right now,” Reigelsperger said.
Clerk-Treasurer Larry Breese said when Pasco was out of office this summer, department heads often checked in with the mayor and kept him in the loop.
“Most of (the department heads) have been here a fairly lengthy time and they know what to do,” Breese said. “They know what’s right, what’s wrong and what’s best for the citizens of Greenfield.”
Pendlum said he, too, doesn’t have a concern about city government running smoothly in the mayor’s absence.
“The only thing I worry about is, I hope he’s OK,” Pendlum said.