Tim Paine, who lost a Ward 4 council race to Bob Bialkowski two years ago, thinks Rose Mary Christian is personally responsible for him not being part of the Democratic slate this year.
He blames Christian for bringing candidate Julie Wallace into the fold and promoting her to other committee members, thereby costing him a chance to win a council seat. He believes he would've gotten more votes than Wallace, and more than the Republican with the fewest votes, too.
"I honestly feel I might have been the top of the ticket," Paine said, "and as hard as I work, I think I could have grabbed that third spot."
So tonight, he made no bones about seeking some payback and released to The Batavian and the Daily News a 20-month-old e-mail written by Christian and sent to her fellow City Council members. The Feb. 16, 2008 missive explained why she was fired from Wal-Mart.
The gist of it is that she and two other workers ate pieces of coffee cake from a damaged box that was going to wind up in the trash.
Christian was accused of violating store policy by opening the coffee cake package for another employee and then eating a small portion of it along with that employee and another worker.
When confronted by a store manager, Christian refused to give up the names of the other employees involved and she was terminated on the spot.
Here's the e-mail Rose Mary sent to all eight of her council colleagues, as well as City Attorney George Van Nest:
I want you to know that I was terminated by Wal-Mart for the following reason. I with two other girls ate a piece of coffee cake that was damaged. I opened the side of it and pulled it out. The girl who also ate some of it told on me. Almost a week later, my boss was told about it. When confronted, I would not tell who the other girls were. I was guilty of eating a piece of it, and was terminated. In case you hear it from someone else, I did it. Ro
(This e-mail was edited for typos only.)
For his part, Paine says flatly, releasing the e-mail "is personal. This is strictly a personal thing."
He takes umbrage with those who might minimize the importance of the issue.
"I can't tell you how much it pisses me off when people say, 'it was just a piece of coffee cake,'" Paine said. "How much will it be next time? Well, it was big enough that Wal-Mart fired her."
Large national retailers routinely terminate employees for even the most petty of infractions. There's no opportunity for appeal and no explanation will suffice. It's simply a zero-tolerance policy.
As the e-mail above indicates, Christian has no problem admitting she broke a rule -- though she says she was unaware of the policy at the time.
She said a girl who worked at the store came in to start her shift and said she was hungry, and Christian told her, "there's a damaged coffee cake over there." The girl started to stick her finger into the package and Christian said, "Don't do it like that. You don't know who's fingers have been in there." Christian then opened the package for her. At that point, they each took a small piece of the coffee cake as did a third employee.
Christian (electronically) scanned the package so the coffee cake would be reported as damaged inventory before it was thrown away.
Christian is the Democratic candidate for the District 7 County Legislature seat, running against Republican Bob Radley. She has represented Ward 6 for 18 years, and remains -- by all accounts very popular in her ward. We are told her nickname in that neighborhood is "Mayor of Ward 6."
Political observers we've spoken to suspect that in Ward 6, her unwillingness to "rat out" her co-workers will play well with voters. But in the more conservative Ward 1, the idea that she stole anything whatsoever may be all voters remember at the polls.
Christian said she doesn't want to be seen as a hero for not telling managers the names of the two other employees. She broke policy and was terminated. That's that.
She did say, however, that when Wal-Mart tried to fight her eligibility for unemployment, a judge ruled that she had been unfairly terminated and awarded her unemployment benefits, which she did receive for a time. She plans to make a letter confirming that decision public as soon as she obtains a copy.
Christian was taken aback to learn that Paine had a personal issue with her. She said she had no idea until this came up today that Paine was mad at her. She said although she introduced Wallace to the Democrat Committee, she had nothing to do with Wallace getting the nod over Paine.
"This is a figment of his imagination," Christian said.
She also noted that Paine dropped out of contention on his own, which Paine confirms.
Two weeks ago, Paine re-registered as a Republican.
Christian accused City Council President Charlie Mallow and Paine of conspiring to leak her old e-mail to the media -- even though she admits she had no expectation that it would remain private when she sent it. She said Paine must have gotten the e-mail from Mallow.
It's unclear how Paine obtained the e-mail. He initially said he got it from Mallow, but later denied it and said -- and Mallow concurs -- that the e-mail was shared with all City Democrat Committee members and discussed extensively at the time by the committee.
"We were trying to decide what we should do about it," Mallow said.
He said earlier that he wants nothing to do with the spat between Paine and Christian, calling them both friends.
"It's personal and it's why I don't want to have anything to do with politics," Mallow said. "It's one person against another person and they both happen to be my friends. It's like watching two friends fight in a schoolyard. What are you supposed to do?"