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Panama City Beach Clerk Calls Firing 'Punishment' For Doing Her Job

Mary Jan Bossert - LinkedIn

At a city council meeting on Thursday, elected leaders in Panama City Beach fired the town's clerk for what they described as poor performance. 

Mary Jan Bossert had served as city clerk since last January. For two years before that, she also held an administrative title with the city. At Thursday's meeting, she alleged council members were angry that she fufilled a request for public records sought by a local talk show host. 

"Clearly, this evaluation is punishment for my response to what I believed was a legitimate request for public records," Bossert said. "I have been in municipal government for 16 years with outstanding performance reviews that I can provide." 

At the meeting, Bossert also accused Mayor Mike Thomas of verbal abuse after she complied with the records request. 

"Mayor, do you recall cussing me out for providing this public record? Do you remember yelling at me at the old city council building repeatedly saying, ‘You effed up, little girl, you effed up,’” Bossert said. 


Thomas denied the allegations, but he wouldn't elaborate.  "I know what the planning of a lawsuit looks like," he said. "I know the best thing to do is go on about your business and pick your best lawyer." 


No complaint has been filed. 


Council Member Hector Solis stated that the firing process was fair. "To find five people that do independent evaluations that have never spoken to each other regarding this subject to all come out and come out with the below average evaluation is pretty unheard of," he said. 


The city received 41 emails from residents requesting the firing decision to be tabled until after the city was no longer in a state of emergency, Debbie Ward, the city's spokeswoman told the council. 


Valerie Crowder is a freelance journalist based in Tallahassee, Fl. She's the former ATC host/government reporter for WFSU News. Her reporting on local government and politics has received state and regional award recognition. She has also contributed stories to NPR newscasts.