The Leader on July 16 at long last corroborates what I reported back in May, that JeffCo 23rd Circuit Clerk employee and failed Democratic candidate for clerk Jeanette McKee was fired from the office in April. However, the Leader provides more info: that McKee appealed her firing and was reinstated in mid-May (it is hard to fire government employees, after all). But this victory was short-lived, as McKee resigned at the end of June. And she went out in a fit of pique, going to the Leader to air her alleged grievances towards her new/old boss.
There was bound to be tension in the circuit clerk’s office when new clerk Mike Reuter (Republican) took over. There was no way he would retain McKee as deputy clerk, and no reason to expect that he should; he is entitled choose someone he can trust. It is hard when an office is operated for decades under the principles of patronage, only to have the head patron replaced with someone of the opposite party. “Anyone who supported me or was hired by [previous clerk] Howard Wagner he has something against,” McKee claims. Of course, when it was the whims of Wagner, a Democrat, that ruled, she did not object.
McKee claims there was a “strained working relationship” and said Reuter “was never going to let up.” Reuter is unable to defend himself in a personnel situation such as this, so McKee is free to fire away unanswered. McKee would not sign a legal release, as requested by Reuter’s attorneys.
McKee says she took a three-week Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) absence because Reuter was “demeaning” her in front of others. Now, I’m not a human resources guy, but I think it is quite likely that this particular excuse is not covered under FMLA, which is intended for actual medical conditions. This is consistent with McKee’s past liberal use of leave. She took a month off in October to campaign for the clerk’s job.
McKee also says Reuter moved her from a “semi-private office to a cubicle outside his office door and then, after her leave, to a downstairs file room to do microfilming.” One has to wonder if Reuter also gave her a can of pesticide and asked her to take care of the cockroaches down there. Hopefully she got to keep her red stapler.
McKee also accused Reuter of not knowing the job and of relying too much on legal advice. She said Wagner did his own human resources work, to which Reuter attorney Stan Schnaare replied:
“I have no doubt that Howard Wagner did the bulk of his human resources work,” he said “I would say that perhaps in the past, the employees were not getting the same due process as they should have in the past – at least that’s my observation.”
We can see the fruits of Wagner’s HR work in the lawsuits filed by former clerk’s office employee Jamie Mahn.
One has to wonder what McKee’s new employers at the US Court of Appeals in St. Louis think of McKee’s parting shots. What will she have to say about them some day? Also, while it is clear that McKee is trying to cause political damage to Reuter, does she have her eyes on trying to run for the clerk seat again in 2018?