I attended a rather incredible selectmen’s meeting last night in Northwood. I had gone to hand deliver my letter from a month ago concerning the special privileges apparently granted to one of the selectmen’s wives to use the administrative assistant’s desk while no one was in the office to oversee what she was doing. I found out that the chair of the board (who is the gentleman I worked with for 3 years on the board) had never seen the letter, although I had received an e-mail from the wife in question responding to my inquiry. Unfortunately I missed public comment, but I stayed to watch a disciplinary hearing which was quite the show! I will be sending my letter again return receipt requested.
The two town employees who had disciplinary reports placed in their files by the interim town administrator had asked for the hearings and had asked for them to be in public, as is their right under the law. This was not a happy thing for the two new selectmen, who tried to circumvent this. Town Administrator Cady also demanded a non-public session because her reputation was, according to her, being attacked. She was over-ruled.
Last week Thursday the welfare director had a number of urgent invoices that had to be created. She had statuatory requirements as to when payments must be made. Northwood has just changed financial software and it was not yet working on her computer, which is an older model. So she asked the administrative assistant for help, which is part of the job description of the assistant. Ms. Leavitt suggested that Ms. Jones log onto the town administrator’s computer under her own user name and password, since the software was working on that computer. Town Administrator Cady was out of the office. This was successful and the invoices were processed.
When Ms. Cady tried to log onto her computer the next morning she was unable to log in. Why this was is a mystery, and it was suggested it might have something to do with not understand computer networks and the process of logging on under your own user id and password. Eventually she was assisted to log on by the town’s computer support company. I believe I heard that the problem had something to do with using upper or lower case letters, or some other problem of that sort. However, the result was that two employees were written up for denying her access to her computer, the administrative assistant and the accounting technician .
Ms. Cady apparently went to the home of the accounting technician and, according to a complaint filed with the Northwood police, pounded on Ms. Garrett’s door and yelled and screamed at her because she could not access her computer Friday morning.
Both employees presented their side of the case and requested that the disciplinary letters be removed from their files and all copies destroyed. Perhaps the most interesting part of the exchange was a comment from Mr. Witham that this was all very conveniently timed, because the board was due to discuss the resume’s they had received for the permanent town administrator position. He seemed to be accusing the employees of staging this to make Ms. Cady look incompetent, although he perhaps thought better of it and did not pursue this. Ms. Leavitt, the administrative assistant,s pointed out that the discussion was not listed on the agenda for the meeting and that she had no knowledge of it. It does seem a bit hard to imagine that the entire episode was timed to exactly coincide with the rev iew of resumes for the position.
The board has ten days to decide on the requests of the employees. They will meet again on Monday, July 17th, at 7 pm to make their decision.