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01-29-04: Negotiations underway over new Celina mayor’s firing of secretary


Celina Mayor Sharon LaRue fired her executive secretary Diane Link two weeks ago, but the layoff has been slowed by attorney involvement.
City officials are keeping quiet on the issue, but apparently Link is contesting her dismissal. Celina City Council went into an executive session Monday night to privately discuss negotiations involved with the layoff procedure.
When asked why a layoff requires negotiations, LaRue said she cannot answer. When asked if severance pay will be involved, LaRue said city officials “have not come to a conclusion on that yet.
“She did opt to talk to an attorney ... therefore, we must answer through our attorney,” the mayor said.
There have been rumors passed by former city officials that Link sued the city, but LaRue said there has not yet been a lawsuit or Civil Service Commission complaint.
Link of St. Henry has worked as a secretary for Celina for 30 years and was moved to the position of executive assistant with a pay increase when former Mayor Paul Arnold took office in 2000. In 2003, Link was paid $34,750, and health insurance and retirement benefits cost the city an additional $15,000, approximately.
LaRue said she decided to do away with the position to save the city money.
The executive assistant job description states the employee serves at the pleasure of the mayor.
Link is still on the city payroll and has been using up accumulated sick and vacation time, LaRue confirmed.
When contacted by The Daily Standard, Link refused to comment. Efforts to reach her attorney, Paul Howell, were unanswered.
Celina has a history of firing city officials and providing the former employee with a handsome severance package. Former safety-service directors Derek Allen and Ron Dorsten both were fired during Arnold’s term and given two months pay upon departure.


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