Redington ex-clerk is left waiting

Commissioners decide to give Beverly Brown some pay but will meet again to talk about it.

Published June 4, 2006

REDINGTON BEACH - Issues between the town and its former clerk, Beverly Brown, are far from over.

During a special meeting Tuesday, the commission wrangled for more than an hour over whether to pay Brown for earned vacation pay and about 60 hours of compensatory time, which is generally considered an alternative to paying overtime.

In the end, the commission decided to give Brown some of the salary she contends the town owes. Commissioners will meet again next week to discuss the issue.

Town Attorney Dominic Amadio is expected to tell them whether Brown is due any additional money.

Brown resigned weeks ago after a highly critical review of her performance read into the record by Vice Mayor Leslie Peck-Epstein, who said Brown's "conduct, performance and skill level" were insufficient for the town's needs.

Brown had been under fire for months and was put on administrative leave when she sued the town over her employment status. Commissioner Sam Maniotes had tried to get her fired and then declared a probationary employee.

In her lawsuit, Brown maintained that she was a permanent employee and demanded the rights usually given such employees - in particular the right to view and respond to Maniotes' charges against her.

Several requests by the mayor, town residents, Brown's attorney and area newspapers for copies of Maniotes' documented charges were never answered. Maniotes hired an attorney, who attended many commission meetings and met with the town's attorney and the attorney representing Brown to resolve the issue.

In March, Brown was reinstated as town clerk in exchange for dropping her lawsuit. Amadio advised the commission not to renew the complaints that led to Brown's lawsuit.

For several weeks, things appeared to quiet down at town hall. Then a group of residents began circulating a petition to recall both Peck-Epstein and Maniotes from office.

Signatures on the petition were verified as valid, but under state law, Peck-Epstein, who was just re-elected to the commission, cannot be recalled until she has served at least six months of her term. That will not occur until September.

The recall process against Maniotes is going ahead but must meet several milestones, including a second petition that includes his "defense" before a recall election can occur.

It was in the midst of this political furor that Peck-Epstein renewed her complaints against Brown, prompting Brown's resignation. In her letter, Brown said her resignation was "effective after use of my three weeks' vacation and 60-plus hours of comp time."

On Tuesday, several commissioners challenged whether Brown is entitled to be paid for the extra time she worked covering evening meetings for the town. Under the town charter, the clerk and assistant clerk are not eligible for overtime pay, and are instead given "compensatory" time off. Brown and her attorney, who were at the meeting Tuesday, maintain that she remained a paid employee until those compensatory hours were used up, even though she did not come to work after she turned in her resignation letter.

Commissioner Anna Yadevia maintained that Brown's resignation became effective the night she turned it in.

Peck-Epstein challenged both the hours Brown claimed in comp time and the town's need to convert that time to money. At issue is several thousand dollars in addition to the $2,346 check given Brown for part of her unused vacation.