New Lebanon village manager fired after weekslong investigation; inquiry continues



The ousted village manager of New Lebanon, who has been on paid administrative leave for the past month pending an internal investigation, was fired Tuesday evening in a 4-3 vote led by newly elected council members.

Council approved a resolution during its regular meeting that terminated Village Manager Glena Madden from the position she’s held since January 2019.

Voting in favor of the resolution to terminate were Councilmembers Melissa Sexton, Timothy Back, Vice Mayor Nicole Adkins and Mayor David Nickerson. Councilmembers Tammy Loch, Gale Joy, and Lyndon Perkins voted against the measure.

Madden responded to the council action via email Wednesday afternoon.

“The actions of the mayor and his friends last night were unconscionable,” she wrote. “I am pursuing my remedies as I cannot let this illegal activity go uncontested. This investigation appears to have become a witch hunt with a significant expense to the citizens of New Lebanon.”

A February vote to place Madden, along with four additional village leaders, on paid leave was approved by the same 4-3 ratio as Tuesday’s vote.

The other employees placed on leave at that time included Chief Financial Officer Phillip Hinson, Law Director Ronald Keener, Police Chief Curtis Hensley and Service Superintendent Scott Brock. These employees remain on paid leave as of Wednesday afternoon.

In another resolution passed Tuesday evening, councilmembers expressed concern regarding the conduct of Hinson, Hensley, and Brock, and deferred to acting Village Manager Rob Anderson’s authority to terminate or otherwise discipline the employees in accordance with the village charter.

“Special counsel has identified certain actions and/or inactions by Police Chief Curtis Hensley, Scott Brock, and Phil Hinson, during his respective investigation, which has yet to be completed, which are deemed unsatisfactory and contrary to the expectations and standards required for their respective positions,” the resolutions reads.

No details of the alleged misconduct are included in the motion. Hensley, Brock, and Hinson could not be reached for comment.

In an email to this newspaper on Tuesday evening, less than two hours prior to the village’s meeting and council vote to fire Madden, Councilman Gale Joy said violations to the village charter and ordinances have been committed by some council members before, during, and since the introduction of the resolutions that were approved in February.

“I have been hoping that things would settle down and people would come to their senses,” he wrote. “In fact, they seem to have doubled down and are committing more charter violations and at least one termination without cause or reason.”

Joy claims Mayor David Nickerson, who introduced the February legislation placing employees on administrative leave, had no authority to engage in any management or executive decisions based on the village’s charter and ordinances.

“Section 1.03 (of the charter) makes it clear that we are a manager form of government and the purpose of that type of government is to check a mayor that attempts to become a tyrant,” Joy wrote, further claiming Nickerson “overstepped” his authority, potentially incurring legal and financial liabilities to the village. “Mayor Nickerson, with the support of three council members, violated the Charter and Ordinances of New Lebanon. They have all violated their oaths to support the Charter and Ordinances, and they have violated the public trust.”

Council in February approved a resolution, also introduced by Nickerson, launching an investigation into activities in its administrative, financial and legal departments, and hired special counsel via McNamee Law Group to lead the inquiry, preliminary results of which were shared during Tuesday’s meeting.

Special counsel Mike McNamee presented his findings so far, noting that additional investigation is required. In his report, he outlined reasons for Madden’s firing.

These allegations include failure to comply with her contract renegotiation time frame; self dealing tactics; wrongful payments; violations of Sunshine Laws; and failure to post job openings.

Documents provided by McNamee state an Oct. 3, 2023 resolution to approve a new contract for Madden violates her previous contract, which required the renegotiation and implementation of a new contract to begin no sooner than Jan. 2, 2024.

Special counsel findings further claim Madden herself drafted her new contract, as opposed to the village’s law director, and that she implemented self dealing tactics when doing so.

These self dealing tactics, according to McNamee’s findings, include amending a termination vote to require approval from two-thirds of council instead of a 4-3 vote; amending a suspension vote to require two-thirds of council instead of 4-3 approval; removal of a clause that her duties may be determined by council; increasing vacation time from two weeks to three; and a requirement that the pay out of all unused vacation, compensatory time, personal days and sick leave days at the time of retirement or termination, whether voluntary or involuntary; among others.

Madden is also accused of improperly receiving the payment of an education incentive bonus, along with Hinson, and Hensley, among others. Special counsel documents allege these incentives were implemented by Hinson and authorized by Madden.

According to the village’s educational/training incentive ordinance, employees of the village who attend an accredited community college, junior college, college, or university while in the village’s employment are entitled to incentive pay up to 3% of the employee’s base annual wage.

Special counsel claims Sunshine Laws were not followed throughout Madden’s tenure, citing improperly conducted executive sessions; and the mishandling of public records and public records requests.

In a comment to the newspaper Wednesday afternoon, Nickerson said the preliminary findings were “more than what I expected.”

“It was overwhelming to me and most of the councilmembers, as well as quite a few citizens,” he said. “It just (solidifies) my drive to continue to do what needs to be done as a mayor to take care of my community.”

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