Dust up at Boston Town Hall leaves clerk locked out of her office

BOSTON, N.Y. (WIVB) – On Friday afternoon, Boston Town Clerk Jennifer Mule left her two unpaid deputy clerks in charge of her office, while two part-time clerks, hired by the town board for Mule’s department, were downstairs in a separate office at Town Hall—-because Mule will not allow the part-timers to replace her deputies.

This is the eye of the storm in a feud between Mule and the town board, and Town Supervisor Martin Ballowe said it is all unnecessary.

“We have two employees that are not allowed in the office. Their salaries are, so far, close to $15,000. We spent $7,200 on attorneys’ fees for something that was always in our town law manual.”

This all came about, last year, when the town board decided to shift work from the clerk’s office to the assessor’s office, part of what Supervisor Ballow called streamlining town government.

“We have tried to streamline government in our town which better benefits the axpayers. It is not one department, it is multiple departments we’ve looked at.”

Subsequently, the board hired their own clerks to replace the two deputy clerks in Mule’s office, and removed the deputies from the town payroll. But Mule refused to allow the board’s hires to displace her deputy clerks.

To exert control over her office, Mule changed the locks, but New York Supreme Court Justice John O’Donnell ruled this week that Mule has to share the keys to the clerk’s office with the town board, while allowing her exclusive access to the town clerk’s vault and file cabinets.

So Ballowe had the locks changed back, Friday afternoon, “I have never heard of a town employee coming in any town hall and changing locks. So I hired our regular locksmith to come back now a second time.”

Mule was advised by her attorney to avoid talking to News 4 on camera, but last month she said she is trying to protect the independence of the town clerk’s office, “I just try to come in, do my job, and do what the residents have elected me to do.”

As the town clerk’s locks were changed, the unpaid deputy clerks were running the department because Mule was out of the office. The locksmith did not turn the clerk’s key over to the deputy clerks, so until Mule receives her key, she won’t be able to get into her own office.

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