Georgetown mayor fires two, then hires daughter, another
One of terminated workers files an official appeal
GEORGETOWN — Decisions to terminate the employment of two office workers and to replace them with a former employee and the daughter of the mayor were met with sharp criticism from some of the 70 people at Tuesday's Georgetown City Council meeting.
Shelly Nale, who has worked for the city for the past two and a half years, and Melissa Jones Bowles, who has worked for the city for the past 14 months, were fired from their jobs on Friday morning. Both contend that they were not given verbal or written warnings in the past, and that the city's progressive discipline process was not followed.
Nale filed a written appeal of the termination at Tuesday's meeting.
"I am 100 percent against this decision," Alderman Adam Hart said. "There is no just cause for this."
"There is just cause," Mayor Kay Sanders said.
Alderman Carl Johnson said the employees' termination was discussed at a personnel committee meeting on Aug. 26. The full council then interviewed and rated some candidates for city office jobs on Aug. 29, and the personnel committee reviewed the ratings and recommended hiring two of the candidates.
City Attorney Charles Devens said he was not at either of the two personnel committee meetings last week, and that he did not make a determination on the terminations or on the hirings. He did say that the city's personnel policy allows termination of employees without verbal or written warnings.
Sanders said all city employees are at-will employees and can be terminated by the mayor. She said letting Nale and Bowles go was proper.
Johnson then made a motion to hire Michelle McGowan, who worked in the office until 2010, and La-Zann Quintana, the mayor's daughter, to fill the two vacancies.
Former Mayor Dennis Lucas alleged that McGowan had been terminated from her position with the city, but Sanders refuted that, and said she did not see any paperwork to that effect in McGowan's personnel file.
Three council members — Wilma Wilming, Don Wheeler and Carl Johnson — voted in favor of the new hires. Sam Payne, Darin Readnour and Adam Hart voted against the new hires. Tim Waterman and Janet Martin abstained from voting.
Sanders broke the tie by voting in favor of the new hires.
A member of the audience called the vote blatant nepotism, but Sanders brushed off the accusation.
"My daughter has not lived in my house for the past three months," she said.
Some audience members shouted support for Nale and Bowles. Some accused city officials of lying about the termination process.
After the meeting, Johnson said that council members rated Quintana and McGowan the highest of the candidates following the interviews and that some council members who rated them highly last week did not support their hiring on Tuesday.
Sanders said Quintana and McGowan would start work on Thursday.