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City fires librarian, assistant clerk disappears

- No explanations offered

By MARY SCHLEY

Published: March 29, 2012

A PART-TIME children’s librarian who had worked in town for nearly two decades and an assistant city clerk who joined the payroll in 2008 are no longer employed by the city, city administrator Jason Stilwell confirmed this week, though he would say nothing else about them.

“Those are the two most recent separations,” he said in an email to The Pine Cone this week. “The employees you’ve inquired about are no longer with the city.”

Stilwell said he couldn’t discuss what happened with the jobs of former librarian Linda Macdonald or assistant city clerk Molly Laughlin, because he is “not  at liberty to discuss individual employees’ private personnel matters.”

“To the extent you seek documents pursuant to the Public Records Act, please be advised we cannot produce personnel files where, as here, the disclosure would constitute an unwarranted invasion of personal privacy,” he said.

However, Macdonald told The Pine Cone she was distraught over the firing, which occurred March 12 when she was called into library director Janet Cubbage’s office and met the new administrative services director, Susan Paul, for the first time.

“I remember shaking her hand and saying, ‘Welcome, I’m so glad you’re here. We haven’t had an HR person in a long time,’” Macdonald said, after which she was asked to sit down and was then told, “‘We’re terminating your at-will employment with us.’” At first, Macdonald didn’t understand what she was hearing and said, “You mean, you’re firing me?”

“‘No, no, we’re letting you go,’” Macdonald quoted Paul as saying.

Since she was a part-time worker with an at-will contract, meaning either party could terminate the agreement at any time without explanation, Macdonald is not entitled to know why the city decided to fire her. In tears, she said she wondered what she had done wrong and called her husband to pick her up after being asked to leave immediately.

This week, she went to city hall to retrieve her last paycheck. More than anything, Macdonald said, she wanted to let the library patrons know she didn’t abandon them.

“I was beginning to see children of the children I read to, and people came not just from Carmel to my story times, they came from P.G., Monterey and from as far as Watsonville,” she said. “And I want the people I touched and who touched me to know that I’m not there not because of my choice. I don’t want them to think I just left, that I just walked away from them. What I was doing was more than a job to me — it meant that I was teaching someone. They were coming into the library and were leaving feeling good. I got such joy and I’m so sad that I won’t be there anymore, and no matter what anybody says, that’s the truest truth from the bottom of my heart.”

Macdonald said she is still grieving. “There’s a part of me that wants to beg them for my job back,” she said. “I miss the patrons so much.”

Laughlin was unavailable to discuss her departure from the city. It was unclear whether she was fired or left of her own accord, though a few people told The Pine Cone she’d been let go.

Stilwell would not say whether an effort to save money led to the dismissals, or whether the women would be replaced.

“As far as filling the positions, no decision has been made at this point. Departments are reviewing their operations and will be developing staffing changes as part of the proposed budget,” he said. “We’re looking to achieve sustainability in service levels relative to the council’s adopted goals and policy plans.”