VALLEY BROOK — The recent firings of three Valley Brook town employees are illegal and politically motivated, one of the town's elected officials said.
Town trustee Lewis Nieman said a Valley Brook police officer, a code enforcement officer and a part-time city worker all have been fired within the past week, officially “for the good of the service.”
Nieman, who said he has his eyes set on the mayor's seat, said all of the employees had one thing in common.
“All of them had good relationships with me,” Nieman said.
“The acting mayor, well, she is retaliating against me because she knows I'm after her position.”
Donna Davis, the town's acting mayor, said the firings were perfectly legal and warranted in all three cases.
Davis, 77, also denied that the three city employees were let go for political reasons.
“Absolutely not,” Davis said. “Has nothing to do with being friends with anybody.”
Last week, Valley Brook police officer Ray Snow, code enforcement officer Sonya Ferguson and part-time town employee Terry Ferguson were fired. Each of them received a nearly identical termination letter.
Sonya and Terry Ferguson, who are married, were fired April 18. The couple's termination letters were signed by Davis.
Snow, who was issued a letter of reprimand in March for missing a firearms “requalification” class, was fired April 20.
Valley Brook Police Chief Mike Stamp signed Snow's termination letter, which instructed Snow to turn his town property over to another officer.
Snow has appealed his termination, stating that Stamp fired him for no good reason.
“I feel Chief Stamp has created this hostile work environment towards me with (the) full intent of termination,” Snow wrote in his appeal. “Not because of my work performance, but because of my association with Town Trustee Lewis Nieman.”
Nieman, 38, said he believes Snow and the Fergusons were fired illegally. He said city codes, at least the ones he's able to find at town hall, state that all personnel decisions — including terminations — must be approved by the Board of Trustees.
“We never voted on any of this,” Nieman said. “Like I said, I think the mayor is doing this because they were close with me.”
Davis, who called Nieman a “good trustee,” said he is simply ignorant to the way things are done in Valley Brook.
“This town has no charter,” Davis said. “We're under the statutes of the state of Oklahoma, so Lewis doesn't know a lot of things.
“He's lived here 10 years ... I've lived here about 30.”
Davis said she wasn't sure when Snow's appeal will be dealt with or even how it would be dealt with. She said she doesn't know if the Fergusons had filed appeals of their own.
“It's a legal matter, and it will be settled, probably during a special meeting with executive sessions,” Davis said. “That's probably how it's going to happen ... we take care of business.”
Davis also said she consulted with attorneys who represent Valley Brook, who told her the terminations — and how they were carried out — are legitimate.
Attempts to reach Valley Brook town attorneys Bob Thompson and Ray Vincent were not successful.