Posted: Aug. 4, 2003
By Celia Cohen
Grapevine Political Writer
Ten months after Lynda R. Maloney and Maria A.
Rendina became the most famous library aides in New Castle County,
the politically well-known sisters quit their jobs Monday as
executive assistants, saying they were forced out by a vindictive
Maloney and Rendina submitted a joint letter
of resignation to County Executive Thomas P. Gordon, a two-term
Democrat, and Chief Administrative Officer Sherry L. Freebery,
walking away from $63,000-a-year jobs within months of their
anticipated retirement dates.
The letter detailed what the sisters said was
deliberate mistreatment on the job. It said they both had suffered
medical problems and declared they intended to have their day in
"As you both know, each of us desperately need
our jobs to live. Lynda is a widow living alone, and Maria is
single. But our mental and physical health is precarious, and we can
hold on no longer. After 10 months, we have reached the end of our
rope," they wrote.
"You have forced us to quit, but we will fight
you in court for our pensions and other relief."
Freebery said there was nothing to the
charges. "I don't see anything in here that is accurate," she said.
"I think they have visions of dollar signs dancing in their heads."
The messy double-resignation continues the
turmoil that began in the New Castle County government last year
with a ranging federal investigation that brought Maloney and
Rendina to public attention as part of its early fallout.
Maloney is the widow of Thomas C. Maloney, a
Wilmington Democratic ex-mayor who died in 2000, and the
stage-managing diva of the First State Gridiron Dinner & Show, an
annual charity roast for Delaware's political and corporate elite.
She would be eligible in March for a county pension with 15 years of
Rendina would have 30 years of combined state
and county service in about six months.
Maloney and Rendina were called to testify
before a federal grand jury in October and hired their own attorney
instead of accepting a county-designated lawyer. They were
transferred from their desk jobs to the Bear Public Library, where
they shelved books. Although county officials said the assignments
weren't punitive, but based on staffing needs, the sisters were
returned to desk jobs three weeks later after their situation became
Since then they say they have been subjected
to a "deteriorating and worsening job environment [that] has been
deliberately caused by both of you as punishment because we
testified truthfully before the federal grand jury," according to
"Your mistreatment is retaliation designed to
hurt us for appearing before the federal grand jury and to send a
message to other loyal New Castle County workers, dependent on their
jobs to survive in the world, that if they cooperate with the law,
they will be unmercifully crushed and injured," they wrote.
Freebery denied there was any mistreatment or
retaliation. She said Maloney and Rendina were transferred from the
library to locations they requested and were handled with "kid
gloves" -- to a point where there were complaints of preferential
treatment from other executive assistants.
She said Gordon even agreed to have the
administration contribute "thousands of dollars" at Maloney's
request toward an $85,000 bronze statue of her late husband,
scheduled to be placed on the Market Street Mall in Wilmington next
Freebery disputed one of the sisters' claims
in particular -- that the library work left them needing surgery for
carpal tunnel syndrome, injury to the wrist area from repetitive
movement. She said both were denied workers' compensation and called
their reported injuries "slightly incredulous."
Freebery noted that Maloney and Rendina were
two of approximately 200 county employees -- out of a work force of
1,600 people -- who received federal subpoenas either for themselves
or their files. "They have singled themselves out," she said.
The sisters haven't endured entirely alone. At
the gridiron this year, Freebery took a lot of the heat. One of the
highlights was a song to the tune of "You Can't Get a Man With a
Gun," with local performer Kelleye Martin singing as though she were
Some call me a pistol.
I sparkle like a crystal
Even though CAO's not Number One.
Now would you find it scary
To work in a library?
And I swear it was fair
When I sent those broads to Bear.
Freebery said the investigation and its
offshoots have taken their toll on her, too. "If they think they're
under medical stress because they were witnesses, they ought to be
in my shoes," she said. "Who can I sue?"
CLICK HERE TO READ THE RESIGNATION LETTER
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