Shannon Southworth, who served under former Community Development Director Daniel Saez, was fired by Mayor Jane Murray Monday. Saez resigned in January.
Southworth issued the following statement by e-mail.
“For the time being, I would like the following to be considered my official response to the termination of my employment with the City of Portsmouth:
“I am in the process of preparing a written response to Mayor Murray regarding her termination of my employment as Grants Technician for the City of Portsmouth, Ohio, effective Monday, June 7, 2010.
“I am also in the process of exploring the option of securing the services of an attorney to represent me with regard to potential action regarding this matter.
“Until I have finished both of these tasks to my satisfaction, I will have no further public comment to make about this matter. Thank you.”
Southworth also issued a statement by Saez, which the Times verified with Saez.
“During my tenure as Community Development Director from May 2009 to Jan. 3, 2010, I found Shannon Southworth to be a dedicated and hard-working community development professional who worked tirelessly on behalf of the citizens of the City of Portsmouth.
“Shannon’s work as grants technician was excellent and imaginative.She accomplished everything the position required of her, and always wanted to do and learn more.
“Shannon’s attention to detail helped our office set up and administer programs such as the demolition of abandoned and dilapidated properties, coordination with the Scioto County Commissioners for a new site for the Domestic Violence Center, and working with Habitat for Humanity to identify and fund locations for future homes to be built. “Shannon’s hard work on behalf of these projects as well as the Boneyfiddle Streetscape and Downtown Revitalization initiative were key to the successful launching of these initiatives during my tenure and that of former Community Development director Jennifer Hanlon.
“Shannon’s energy and enthusiasm for community development work were key to her effectiveness in the job, and was noticed in a positive way by every individual, every local, every state and every federal agency she worked with on behalf of Portsmouth Community Development. Her professionalism, honesty and integrity are especially needed now in city government, and she will be missed.”
Murray would not talk about the termination on the record, citing dealing with personnel as an administrative issue.
Saez resigned on Jan. 3, the day before Murray took office and fired three major department heads.
Saez subsequently sued Murray and the City of Portsmouth.
In the suit, Saez accuses Murray of publishing false and defamatory statements concerning him, specifically that she made comments suggesting, among other things, that Saez was engaged in a criminal enterprise involving the handling of the city’s revolving loan fund.
FRANK LEWIS can be reached at (740) 353-3101, ext. 232 or firstname.lastname@example.org