EAST CHICAGO | Trustees of the East Chicago Public Library have agreed to settle a lawsuit filed by a City Council member who claimed she was fired from her library job for political reasons.
The announcement came nearly one year to the day after Myrna Maldonado, D-at large, was handed a memo from former Library Director Manuel "Manny" Montalvo notifying her that she was terminated from her position as associate director of youth services at the library.
Library Board President Clifton Johnson said Wednesday that trustees had been advised by their legal counsel to settle the wrongful termination suit.
Under the agreement, Maldonado dropped demands that she be reinstated to the $51,000-per-year library job in exchange for a payment of $50,000, with another $25,000 paid to her attorney, Valparaiso lawyer Ivan Bodensteiner.
Maldonado said Thursday that she had not yet been notified of the settlement, and referred questions to Bodensteiner.
The library is insured through so-called "errors and omissions" coverage by Scottsdale Indemnity Corp., which will pay out the settlement money as part of its policy held by the library, with no extra deductible payment required.
Bodensteiner said Thursday that negotiations toward settling the suit, which alleged Maldonado was fired for casting City Council votes contrary to the desires of former Mayor George Pabey, began early this year, and have been working their way through the system.
Maldonado was one of three council members -- including Adrian Santos, D-1st, and Jimmy Ventura, D-3rd -- who sued the city and the library in May of last year over firings they claimed were retaliation by Pabey for their council actions.
Ventura's son, a brother of Santos, and a 22-year veteran city photographer also lost their jobs at the same time and joined the lawsuit with claims that their firings were politically motivated.
As of Thursday, only Maldonado's suit had been settled.
Montalvo was fired by the Library Board on March 16, and was sued this month by the Indiana attorney general's office for repayment to the library of $12,378 in expenses for which a State Board of Accounts audit found no legitimate library purpose.
Pabey was convicted last September on federal corruption charges and faces up to 15 years in prison at a sentencing hearing scheduled for Thursday.