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01-31-04: City of Celina secretary contests firing

Officials contend Diane Link was not terminated


Celina Mayor Sharon LaRue’s former executive secretary, Diane Link, filed a petition with the Celina Civil Service Commission on Friday, asserting she was unjustly fired from her position earlier this month.
But city officials say the filing with the commission has no merit because they say Link was not actually fired.
Safety-Service Director Mike Sovinski said Link was asked to resign, but refused, and then was told not to report to work, unless further notified. Link’s last day at work was Jan. 12 and since then she has been receiving vacation pay.
“Since she is still on the payroll and has not exercised her resignation, until the city changes her status, she is still an employee,” Sovinski said Friday.
Therefore, if Link is still an employee, an unjust removal case before the civil service commission may have no merit, he added.
“The filing has to be in regards to an action occurring,” Sovinski said.
There also are questions to whether Link’s job is considered a classified position, or a non-classified position. A classified employee, such as police and firefighters, has rights within the civil service commission. Non-classified employees, such as department heads and elected officials, have no recourse in the commission.
Link’s official job description states the position serves “at the pleasure of the mayor,” but doesn’t specifically state whether it is classified or unclassified.
Link’s attorney, Paul Howell, of Coldwater, told The Daily Standard he considers the position classified, and said the petition asserts the city removed Link without proper layoff procedure or just cause.
“I’m not really sure what their (city administration’s) position is. Now I was told she is on paid leave,” Howell said Friday.
Civil service commission chairman Matt Gilmore, a Celina attorney, said the three-man commission will set a public hearing date and consider the facts of the situation, unless the petition is withdrawn.
Gilmore said he could not comment on the questions of whether Link is still an employee or if the position is classified.
“That’s not something that I can decide for the commission,” Gilmore said, adding that he took the civil service commission rule book home for the weekend. “There’s a lot to be considered.”
Celina City Council is currently considering an ordinance intended to abolish the executive secretary position created by former
Mayor Paul Arnold and begin Link’s layoff procedure. It received the first of three readings at the council meeting Monday night. The city’s contracted personnel consultants, Clemens/Nelson and Associates Inc., are also involved, LaRue confirmed.
Link, of St. Henry, has worked for the city in a clerical or secretarial position for more than 30 years and was paid $34,750 in 2003. She declined comment.


Phone: (419)586-2371,   Fax: (419)586-6271
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The Standard Printing Company
P.O. Box 140, Celina, OH 45822


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