WAKEFIELD — Pierce Avenue resident Kristen Henshaw again has come to the defense of embattled Town Clerk Mary K. Galvin, asking the selectmen last night what has to be done for Galvin to return to the job she hasn’t been able to perform since she collapsed in her Town Hall office in April.

Citing an unhealthy work environment inside 1 Lafayette St. brought on by an alleged campaign of “bullying,” Galvin maintains her doctors have advised her not to return to the job that pays her about $76,000 a year. Galvin has cited Town Administrator Stephen P. Maio as a source of troubles.

While the selectmen said nothing, Town Counsel Thomas Mullen said they have taken an extraordinary stand with Galvin. The selectmen have expressed their support of her seeking an accidental disability. Usually, the town fights such requests “tooth and nail,” said Mullen. Additionally, Mullen said the selectmen want her to return to work if she’s well enough to.

Henshaw, who also has defended Galvin in the Item Forum section of this newspaper, told the selectmen, “My husband and I have lived in Wakefield since 1977. We are not ‘townies,’ we were not born and raised here but we love this town and the people in it. That is why this present trouble involving Mary K. Galvin and her absence from her Town Clerk’s office is so distressing.

“Like most of the people in this town, we know Mary K. Galvin and know her to be hardworking, ethical, diligent, competent and a much-lauded public servant. I have worked as a precinct warden since 2005 and can attest to her professional management of all elections, her graciousness with all of us who serve Wakefield’s electorate.

“Why isn’t she doing her usual terrific job, then? Why don’t we see her smiling face at the counter or in her office when we go to the Town Clerk’s office?

“She is at home and has been since her collapse in April of last year. Her doctors diagnosed stress as the cause of her ill health and have advised her not to return to work until and unless conditions change at town hall; there is substantial risk to her health if she does so.

“The open letter to Mary K. that appeared in the Wakefield Daily Item on Jan. 12, signed by Dan Sherman of the Wakefield Finance Committee and Retirement Board, was especially vicious and ugly. I believe the intent of the letter was to publicly humiliate Mary K. but it backfired. I found it ample proof that the source of MK’s stress-induced ill health was the hostile work environment of our town hall.

“I have three questions for you:

“1). I presume that Mr. Sherman’s letter was approved for publication. Who did so? Town Counsel? Town Administrator? The FinCom? The Retirement Board? Members of the Board of Selectmen? Who composed the letter? Any of the above named – or all of them?

“2). What are the conditions that must change before Mary K. can return to work without jeopardizing her health? She names Town Administrator Steve Maio as the source of her troubles at Town Hall. Have you asked him what she means?

“3). This board has appointed TA Maio and is responsible for his supervision. He always earns high marks when you review his job performance. You must therefore have high expectations for him as TA, that he can – and will do – whatever is necessary to bring this ugly matter to a satisfactory conclusion and bring Town Clerk Mary K. back to her office where she belongs. Will you ask him to do that?”

Earlier this week, Galvin revealed the memo she claims was the final straw in an ongoing campaign against her and the reason she fell ill.

The memo, from Town Administrator Stephen P. Maio and apparently written with the selectmen’s blessing, deals with a reported “history of grievances” filed by “nearly every (member of the town clerk’s clerical staff) with the common theme of hostile work environment.” Galvin maintains that all of the grievances were either dismissed as unwarranted by the town or dismissed by the employee who filed the grievance.

At no time did a grievance ever make it to the arbitration stage, Galvin has emphasized at least twice over the last month. The elected town clerk also wanted to make clear the fact that grievances are filed regularly against any department head, not just her.

When asked about the memo yesterday, Maio maintained his position that he does not comment on personnel issues.

Galvin has described Maio’s memo as “nasty” and the reason for her sudden attack April 8. She spent the next six days in Melrose-Wakefield Hospital. Her doctors initially thought she had a heart attack or a stroke. As it turned out, Galvin was diagnosed with emotional stress brought on by certain pressures she said she felt as she did her job as town clerk.

The memo from Maio talks about some undisclosed, latest grievance filed against Galvin that is “particularly upsetting as the subject matter could be construed as infringing on the constitutional rights of an employee. Therefore the Board of Selectmen has asked me to convey to you the following:

“1) The Board will not authorize the expenditure of any Town resources, including the services of Town Counsel (Thomas) Mullen, to answer and/defend the most recent grievance, or future grievances of the same tenor. This means that should any grievance require to be defended you personally will bear the cost of same.

“2) The Board is presenting a warrant article at the May (2014) Town Meeting to make the Town Clerk’s position appointed rather than elected.

“3) You are hereby referred to the administrative program at the Employee Assistance Group.

“Feel free to contact me if you have any questions as the Selectmen will not discuss this matter with you directly,” Maio concludes.

Maio explained this morning that the selectmen’s move to present a warrant article last spring to change the way Wakefield’s town clerk is chosen was not pursued because Galvin had left work. Galvin said last month that she wants to return to her job but doesn’t feel the current environment in Town Hall would be good for her health.

Galvin is popular with much of the general public. Many have come to her defense, with at least one supporter saying she is the target of a bullying campaign inside 1 Lafayette St.

At a recent Finance Committee meeting, members discussed possibly pursuing the matter at the upcoming spring Town Meeting. One member, Dan Sherman, has pledged to support eliminating Galvin’s roughly $76,000 annual salary from the Town Clerk’s Office’s fiscal 2016 budget.

Sherman also has urged Galvin to retire since, in his opinion, it appears she has recovered to the point where she should be back performing her duties as town clerk.

In a letter written by Town Counsel Mullen on May 30 that Galvin also supplied to the Item yesterday, Mullen states, “if you believe that the event that sent you to the hospital … and that has kept you away from work since then, rises to the level of work-related injury causing you permanent and total disability, you may be entitled to an accidental disability retirement. If you were to retire on that basis today, your annual retirement allowance would be $67,427.52 (compared with a superannuation allowance of just $55,011.48). The vast bulk of a disability retirement allowance (in your case over $54,000) would be tax-free (again in contrast to a superannuation allowance, all of which would be subject to tax). Mr. Maio asked me to relay to you that he and the Town government generally would support your application for accidental disability retirement, if you believe yourself entitled to it. (Of course any disability retirement would be subject to approval by the local retirement board and the Public Employee Retirement Administration). …”

The memo from Mullen includes an “Employee Accident Report” form in case Galvin wanted to fill one out.