Rockport dismisses town office worker

Posted Feb. 22, 2013, at 8:04 p.m.

ROCKPORT, Maine — An executive assistant hired by former Town Manager Robert Peabody was fired a week after Peabody was placed on administrative leave.

A letter of termination of employment dated Feb. 7 was presented to Karla VanAlstine, who worked as an executive assistant in the town office. The date of termination was effective that day.

The termination letter was signed by then interim town manager Linda Greenlaw. The termination letter was provided to the Bangor Daily News on Thursday afternoon after the BDN filed a Freedom of Access request with the town.

Greenlaw pointed out in the letter that VanAlstine was a probationary employee which is considered by the town’s personnel policy to be an extension of the selection process. The probationary period allows department heads to observe the employee in the work environment and see how he or she accomplishes tasks, measures up to the department head’s expectations and fits into the organization.

VanAlstine started working at the town office in August as a temporary employee through an employment agency and then was hired and started in her executive assistant position on Sept. 28.

“Ms. Lindsey (Finance Director Virginia Lindsey) and Mr. Leichtman (Assessor Kerry Leichtman) have recommended that your employment with the town be terminated,” Greenlaw stated in the letter.

In the letter, Greenlaw stated that she had spoken to VanAlstine and offered to meet with her to explain the reasons for the decision before the termination but that she refused and said that Greenlaw instead should contact her attorney.

VanAlstine could not be reached for comment. An email asking for comment was sent to her attorney Thursday evening and not returned.

Peabody was placed on paid administrative leave on Jan. 29 after a complaint filed with Select Board Chairman William Chapman by two unnamed department heads.

Lindsey and Leichtman declined to comment if they were the two department heads who had filed the complaint against Peabody.

The reasons for Peabody’s departure were not given in the severance agreement, which calls for him to receive 12 weeks of pay as well as his unused sick and vacation time. The severance totaled $52,836.

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