An ex-City Hall employee worker details why she feels the former assistant business administrator should’ve been fired, details an incident from last year where he received a verbal warning.
By John Heinis/Hudson County View
Emails that Gail Godesky, a former part-time clerk for the business administrator’s office, shared with HCV show that former Assistant Business Administrator Mark Bonamo received a verbal warning and “was immediately disqualified from consideration” as the business administrator last year as Terrence Malloy was preparing to retire.
Godesky emailed Assistant Counsel Donna Russo and city personnel on February 5th, 2020 that Bonamo screamed “what’s my name?” at least 10 times after she had used his first name to ask him to move his food in the work fridge to make room for some water bottles.
She said she joked it was the community refrigerator not the Mark Bonamo refrigerator and was not meant to be disrespectful in any way.
“I went to apologize and said Mark (to get his attention) and he began his rant and said don’t you ever call me Mark again my name is Mr. Bonamo. Don’t you ever call me Mark again,” she told Russo in the email, citing three colleagues as witnesses.
“At this time is when [redacted] was on the phone, [redacted] and [redacted] were in [redacted’s] office. They did not step out during the incident and yelling. Please note: Mark was not just speaking in a business like tone he was actually yelling.”
She continued that the situation was “unprofessional” and “scary” and claimed that Bonamo really blew things out of proportion.
“In all my years in the workforce I have never observed or have been a part of such a unprofessional and yes, scary situation. In my opinion he was totally out of control and I was afraid,” she told Russo in the email.”
“I have received many compliments from people in the building how I have added value and professionalism to my department Including [sic] human resources. I take pride in my job and my professionalism.”
In Bonamo’s own account to Russo, he said that he felt Godesky’s tone to him during their tense exchange was “both sarcastic and demeaning” and that he asked her not to engage with him as she attempted to apologize.
” … I then proceeded to ask Ms. Godesky ‘is my name Mark, or is my name Mr. Bonamo?’ Ms. Godesky avoided eye contact with me and did not reply. I then proceeded to walk away from this conversational exchange.”
While Godesky felt this was a fireable offense, she was more offended by the fact that Bonamo received a voluntary separation agreement when he left his city job, while she received nothing.
“Politics aside, this is wrong: the city is not doing the right thing … He did nothing: he did absolutely nothing and a lot of people will agree with that,” Godesky asserted.
Citing pending litigation filed by Business Administrator Melissa Mathews, Malloy’s successor, city officials have declined to comment on why Bonamo last reported to City Hall on January 15th and was paid until April 5th, as HCV first reported.
A copy of the agreement between the city and Bonamo show that he was allowed to collect unused sick, vacation, and personal days “without good cause attributable to work.”
“In executing this agreement, you warrant and represent that you are leaving work and tending [sic] your resignation voluntarily and without good cause attributed to the work,” the 10-page agreement, signed on January 24th, says.
Additionally, the agreement says he will use his accrued vacation days between January 19th and February 22nd, followed by his personal days from February 23rd through February 26th, and finally his sick days for the month between March 1st and April 1st.
“You will provide a signed note from your medical doctor to provide support [for] your request for the sick leave during the aforementioned time period,” according to the agreement, whicc was drafted by Russo.
Godesky, who was hired by Malloy in December 2018, stepped down after Russo told her she had to return to work in person if she could not go through the process of getting a doctor’s note, according to her August 27th, 2020 resignation letter.
“We had a conversation regarding my concerns as a vulnerable individual. I asked what my options are at this time, she noted that I would have to work with the City Nurse and provide medical documentation and they would further put me in contact with the Employee Assistance Program to assist with my anxiety,” she wrote.
“I asked again, what are my other options. She noted at this time there are none. She said she would provide me with 48 hours to consider this option. After careful consideration, I do not feel comfortable discussing my vulnerability issues relating to the Covid-19 Health Crisis at this time.”
As a result, her last day at City Hall was September 10th, emphasizing that she was never offered any sort of agreement or additional compensation like Bonamo was, which she believes goes against what is written in the employee handbook.
” … Any employee who resigns during any calendar year shall be entitled to their earned and accrued pro-rated vacation days.”
An attorney representing Bonamo and the city in Matthews’ lawsuit did not return an email seeking comment on Wednesday.