Panama City Beach City Clerk fired at Thursday's council meeting

PANAMA CITY BEACH, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - Viewers witnessed something out of the ordinary at Thursday's Panama City Beach City Council meeting.

Former Panama City Beach City Clerk Mary Jan Bossert. (WJHG/WECP)

Up for discussion on the agenda was an evaluation of the City’s Clerk, Mary Jan Bossert.

Despite 41 emails the city received asking to table the issue until after the coronavirus passes, the council voted to terminate Bossert.

Council members stated she had received a below average evaluation from all five council members, and that she was offered an alternative position which she turned down.

Bossert argued the termination was retribution for fulfilling a public records request against the wishes of some council members.

Bossert said, “I was also told that the majority of council members were upset that I responded to this public records request. It is my job to do so. Clearly this evaluation is punishment for my response to what I believed was a legitimate request for public records.”

Mayor Mike Thomas said, ”They’re saying that’s why she was fired, because she gave out a public records request which is completely inaccurate. That was never part of an evaluation, it had nothing to do with an evaluation. That’s just a part that tries to make the lawsuit look better and that’s why I’m not going to talk much about it.”

Bossert issued a statement to NewsChannel 7 which said:

"The City Council publicly humiliated me [Thursday] because they were upset that I provided a public record as required by law to Burnie Thompson in November.

"Mayor Mike Thomas came to City Hall as a result and shouted at me: "You [expletive] up, little girl." Councilman Hector Solis was visibly angry when he asked why I provided the public record to Mr. Thompson.

"When I tried to report this incident to our HR Department, nothing was filed. All I received was a smirk from the head of HR. Nobody deserves this kind of abuse from the Mayor or members of the City Council.

"Before receiving this evaluation shortly after I was berated, I was never informed of any inaccuracies or problems with my performance.
The City received 41 emails opposing today's action that the Council refused even to acknowledge. The emails overwhelmingly indicated that the Council should not do an employee evaluation like this until after the State of Emergency is concluded.

"The City included my evaluations in the agenda packet but refused to include my response letter. I wasn't even given a chance to talk before the Council voted unless I used the public comment period, which I did. The whole process is unprecedented and unfair.

"I have been a good municipal employee for nearly 17 years with excellent reviews to show for it. I have worked hard as the City Clerk to be a trusted Keeper of the Records.

"I'm proud of my service to the City, and I'm deeply hurt that the Council was so vindictive at a time like this."

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