Controversial Pacific mayor skips clerk's termination hearing

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by KING 5 News

KING5.com

Posted on July 26, 2012 at 12:07 PM

Updated Thursday, Jul 26 at 6:10 PM

Twelve years of civil service for the City of Pacific was reduced to a few boxes and some personal items Thursday for Jane Montgomery, who was just fired from her position as city clerk.

"What it's done to this city is even more tragic," said Montgomery, “because the city is being destroyed from within."

Thursday morning, Montgomery and her attorney showed up for a scheduled Loudermill hearing with embattled Pacific Mayor Cy Sun to contest her termination. But as they knocked at the door, Sun inexplicably ducked out the back and drove off.

"He's not giving us any information, rather than rudely exiting without addressing us in any way," said Montgomery's attorney Joan Mell.

So Montgomery cleared out her office under police supervision, which included some of the officers who have also been given pre-termination notices by the mayor.

Four Pacific police officers also received word they will be terminated, including the town's acting police chief. In their notices, the mayor accused the civil servants of "anarchy" and "mutiny" and causing "dissension and community chaos." Their appeal hearings are scheduled for Friday.

Lieutenant Edwin Massey, who has been on the force for more than a decade, is one of them.

"We have very good police officers working for the city," said Massey. "I think people need to know that.”

At his home, Sun refused to comment and ordered reporters off his property.

The power struggle saga in Pacific has resulted in a number of other employees either losing their jobs or quitting.

Sun has repeatedly said he is ridding Pacific of waste and corruption. But employees and residents claim he's ruling the city like a dictator and have launched a recall effort.

The most recent wave of firings stem from a July 19 incident where Sun was arrested at City Hall. Police released the mayor, though employees accused him of hiring a locksmith to get into the clerk's office to look at personnel files.

Sun said he wanted to access records. Montgomery had been on leave, and she said as a security precaution she left the office keys with a police official. Sun said the locking of the clerk's office doors and his arrest were unauthorized.

The commotion caught the attention of the King County Sheriff's Office, now investigating Sun for allegedly destroying city records.

The police department confirms the four officers that took part in the arrest were the ones given pre-termination notices. If they are fired, it would reduce the small town's force by half.

Among the reasons Sun listed as cause for Montgomery's firing, he said she "[caused] damaging nationwide news media coverage for the City of Pacific," and "[aroused] public dissension and community chaos."

The letter also claims Montgomery altered another employee's employment status and failed to complete certification as a municipal clerk.

Montgomery's attorney filed a $2.2 million claim against the city after the mayor walked out on the hearing Thursday. Some question whether the mayor has the authority to fire civil servants in this manner.

KING 5's Elisa Hahn, Lindsay Chamberlain, Russ Walker and Liza Javier contributed to this report.

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