Fairhope Mayor Karin Wilson acknowledged she has terminated the employment of the city’s recently hired museum director during his six-month probationary period, but emphasized Tuesday the department was in capable hands.
“The Fairhope Museum of History is proceeding under the capable leadership of Interim Director Darby Wiik, who has served in the capacity of Museum Assistant since 2017,” she said. “With a master’s degree from the Harvard Graduate School of Education and 15 years’ experience in museums including the Mobile Museum of Art and The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis, we are confident she will continue to improve citizen and visitors’ experience at the museum and enhance ways to better manage our growing archive collection.”
Last week the former director, Phillip Bolin, released a lengthy statement alleging he was unfairly maligned by the mayor and Economic and Community Development Director Sherry Lea Bloodworth Botop, but Wilson disputed his account, noting she could not go into details about personnel matters.
Wilson explained the city’s position off the record, while also giving an interview to WABF 1480 AM radio in which she said Bolin simply “wasn’t a good fit.”
Meanwhile, Bolin — who was hired in October to succeed longtime museum director Donnie Barrett — said he was exploring his legal options for wrongful termination.
“I think my firing was an accumulation of everything that happened there — they think I wasn’t ‘playing ball’ — but I was trying to protect museum resources and respect the ordinances and bylaws of the museum,” Bolin said last weekend.
Generally, Bolin said he was surprised to learn after being hired that Botop was his supervisor. Allegedly during the interview process he was led to believe he was to report directly to the mayor. After his hiring, Botop came to Bolin with an order to relocate a 100-year-old Grand Hotel guest ledger, which was then held in the museum’s collections, to a new display in the newly refurbished hotel.
Bolin said he was unfamiliar with the request and would have to employ museum and archival procedures and protocol to ensure the ledger’s safe transport and preservation. Over the next several months, Bolin and the administration had similar disagreements over the use of and access to museum facilities after hours and the storage of a $3,200, 30-foot ornamental bow the city purchased to decorate the Welcome Center during the holidays.
Bolin said the final straw was his partial absence from the State of the City address in late January.
“Performance issues is what I was told,” Bolin said. “[They] implied that I did not do my job and the fact is I did my job and it was inconvenient for them. I had a lot of people depending on me and trusting me and I believe they needed to know what transpired. I had no opportunity to speak to the mayor or defend myself in any capacity at an HR level, so I thought they needed to know what happened and I wasn’t goofing off and abusing my authority.”
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