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Red Hook clerk, deputy resign, alleging bias

Jul 17, 2020 2:00 pm
Patricia R. Doxsey is reporting for the Daily Freeman Red Hook Town Clerk Sue McCann and Deputy Clerk Claire Horst have resigned from town government, saying town Supervisor Robert McKeon has treated them disrespectfully, usurped the duties of the clerk and targeted offices headed by women. McCann said in an interview July 16, she and Horst will work through August 14. McCann alleges the supervisor of held meetings without informing her, sent out notices under her name, restricted her access to her office during the pandemic and deprived her of information She said McKeon has suggested to others that she "has too much power." In June, the town board eliminated three full-time jobs, including two in the town Highway Department, and reduced the hours of several other town positions, including the deputy clerk. McKeon said each department was asked to reduce its personnel costs by approximately 75 percent to offset revenue losses amid the COVID-19 pandemic. At the same time he could not specify the town's anticipated losses — "nobody has a crystal ball," he said — but offered that the town expects to lose between $200,000 and $300,000 in revenue in 2021. McCann, however, said the cuts targeted the two departments headed by women and that many of the other cuts were either of unfilled positions or at the request of the employee. There were no staffing cuts to the supervisor's office. The town clerk and highway superintendent are elected positions. "This has nothing to do with the coronavirus or anything else he might say," McCann said. "He has been so obvious with his treatment of me." Horst, who has served as deputy clerk since 2006, said the Town Board reduced her hours to 15 per week and took away her health benefits and 73 sick days. She criticized town officials for the "sneaky and cowardly" way the town board handled the cuts and said McCann was never included in the discussions about cuts to the Clerk's Office.  McKeon denied McCann's claims, but ended the call without elaborating. Read the full story in the Daily Freeman.