By BOB BURGESS
WAKEFIELD — Town Clerk Mary K. Galvin, who hasn’t worked since she collapsed at work last April, yesterday revealed the memo she claims was the final straw in an ongoing campaign against her and the reason she was stricken.
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 this morning, 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.