NORRIDGEWOCK — The woman who collects money at the Town Office for car registrations, hunting and fishing licenses and sewer bills was fired this week for making secret audio recordings of conversations at the front desk.

Charlotte Curtis, 66, who is an office clerk, but also holds the separate elected positions of town clerk and treasurer, recorded conversations when she was not in the room, according to both Curtis and her termination letter.

The Jan. 30 letter from the town manager says that audio recording devices are not allowed because of confidentiality violations.

“Conversations can and do arise at the front counter that are confidential under state law,” it reads.

Curtis said Thursday she cannot discuss why she was recording conversations because she is fighting the termination and filing a grievance.

“I don’t know if I should say that or not because that’s going to be part of my grievance. I was not recording the public as such. There was no goal in recording anything to catch anybody from the public saying anything, ever,” she said.

Town Manager Michelle Flewelling said she could not comment on what was recorded or why.

Even though Curtis was fired on Monday from her 40-hour-per-week job as an office clerk 1, represented by the American Federation of State, County & Municipal Employees union, she will still go to the Town Office occasionally until March elections to fulfill her separate duties as the elected town clerk and treasurer.

Because she was elected, she cannot be fired from the town clerk and treasurer positions. Norridgewock has no recall procedure for an elected official, Flewelling said.

In the elected positions, which she has held for 23 years, Curtis certifies birth, death and marriage documents, completes election duties and signs checks.

The town’s attorney, Phil Mohlar, and Deputy District Attorney Alan Kelley both said Thursday that they did not know if her actions were being investigated as a possible violation of state law.

Brenda Kielty, a spokeswoman for the Office of the Maine Attorney General, said she did not have any information on the matter in order to comment Thursday.

The most detailed public information is in the termination letter.

According to the letter, Curtis, her union representative and Flewelling gathered for an investigative meeting Jan. 5. At the meeting, Curtis acknowledged verbally and in writing, that Flewelling told her in April 2010 that a personal audio recording device was not allowed at the front counter because of potential privacy violations.

According to the letter, Curtis said at the meeting that she had secretly recorded conversations since April 2010.

The letter also states that at a Jan. 18 selectmen’s meeting Curtis said she would do her job the way she wanted to do it even if it meant she lost her job.

The letter signed by Flewelling ended with “your statements, egregious conduct and actions cannot be tolerated and are the basis for this immediate termination.”

Ron Frederick, chairman of the board of selectman, said he could not comment about Curtis’ termination on the advice of legal counsel.

Flewelling said she could not comment on severance offered to Curtis but said “it was handled according to the rules and regulations of the union contract.”

The contract calls for payment of earned wages, holidays and vacations.

Curtis said despite being fired, “I feel a relief from a lot of stress that I was living with, and that is wonderful.”

She added that some residents have been supportive. “I always knew the people of Norridgewock were wonderful, and they have really proven it over the last three-and-a-half days.”

She is not running for another term as town clerk and treasurer and is instead on the March 5 election ballot for selectman. She was one of nine people who recently filed nomination papers for five available seats.

Diane Gogan, who is a friend of Curtis, said residents are upset about the firing.

“Everybody in this town loves Charlotte. She went beyond the call of duty to do things for the people. She’s gone to people’s homes and done notary work because they couldn’t come to the office to have it done,” she said.

Resident Richard Gordon said he is also angry about Curtis’ termination.

“My wife and I have lived here on the same corner for 40 years. We’ve done a lot of business with the town. Charlotte has always been professional. She’s always been exact,” he said.

The job opening will be advertised shortly, Flewelling said. In the meantime, the vacancy is being filled by staff members.

Curtis said she might try to find another job, perhaps a part-time one. “I’m healthy and still have all my wits about me,” she said.

Erin Rhoda — 612-2368

[email protected]


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