Medley assistant town clerk Mary Taylor was abruptly fired last week, then rehired after the council voted 4-0 to reinstate her at a Feb. 19 special meeting.
“The mayor called me into his conference room and told me that my position is being eliminated,” said Taylor, who was then asked to leave town hall immediately.
During her 17-year tenure, Taylor had chalked up a file full of awards and served faithfully through four Medley administration cycles — until last week.
As she lugged out 10 boxes of personal belongings through the lobby and into the parking lot, she described the looks on her coworkers faces as one of devastation.
“They are wondering who is next,” Taylor said Tuesday night before a special meeting to discuss her case, which drew more than 100 supporters, including coworkers.
When Mayor Roberto Martell warned that no public forum would take place on the matter, many rose from their seats waving fists to jeering until police restored order.
“This isn’t a dictatorship; this isn’t Cuba,” said Estrella Gonzalez, of Medley, who sat in the front row and complained with others that she didn’t understand the discussion in English. So a portion of the meeting took place in Spanish and was translated into English.
Though he didn’t explain his reasons for firing Taylor, Martell said that he sought advice before doing so.
“According to the attorney and [the town’s charter], I had the ability to do this,” said Martell, who then asked town attorney Michael Pizzi to explain the legal aspects of the decision.
Pizzi pointed to multiple “conflicts” in the charter, as well as ordinances that have been passed that lacked “clarity” before advising the town.
“At the end of the day, it is up to the mayor and the council to interpret their rules and their charter,” said Pizzi, who added that Taylor had not followed the charter’s rules since her termination.
An appeal should have been filed with the town within 10 working days by Taylor stating the reasons why she should not have been fired, according to Pizzi, who relied on the town’s “discipline” ordinance.
Jason Katz, Taylor’s attorney, told the council that she was “wrongfully terminated” by Martell and that the discipline ordinance did not apply.
“She was not disciplined at all,” said Katz, who argued that Taylor’s firing must be affirmed by the council.
Katz then asked that the council reverse Taylor’s dismissal and that Martell abstain from voting pursuant to the charter unless there was a tie.
At least one council member quickly agreed.
“Only the council has the right to remove her,” said Councilwoman Griselia Digiacomo, who explained that although the mayor was the head of the town’s political “body,” the rest of the body had been left out of the decision-making process.
“The outcry of support from all of you was overwhelming,” Taylor said to a chamber of applause after the decision was made official. “I love all of you.”