DOVER (WJER) (March 11, 2022) – City Council has opened the door for three former city employees to return to work. However, the mayor might still put some obstacles in their way.
Council Thursday unanimously agreed to override Mayor Rick Homrighausen’s veto of a settlement that would bring back the former mayor executive assistant, service director, and safety and human resources director.
The employees aren’t coming back just yet, as their appeal of the terminations is still being considered by the State Personnel Board of Review, where the mayor is trying to intervene.
Law Director Doug O’Meara says Homrighausen, who was not at the meeting, also might try to stop the employees from coming back some other way.
“I don’t think he can stop people from coming into the building,” O’Meara said. “I just think he may try to obstruct their ability to do their jobs, which they were doing well.”
City Council President Shane Gunnoe says all Council members want the employees back on the job.
“The loss of those three employees has led to a slowdown, both in communication and productivity,” he said.
Homrighausen abruptly fired Eva Newsome, Dave Douglas and Gerry Mroczkowski in December.
O’Meara, Council members and the employees agree Homrighausen was retaliating against them because they reported potentially illegal actions by the mayor.
Homrighausen has not spoken about his reasons for firing them. He is trying to delay the appeal until he gets legal representation paid for by the city.
O’Meara says the review board could rule on the appeal March 23.
In the meantime, Council members have essentially eliminated those three positions in the mayor’s administration until the former employees come back. All that’s left of those two full-time positions and one part-time position right now is a part-time service/safety director making $10 an hour.