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Carlsbad city officials have suspended an Oceanside woman from the Pine Avenue Community Center, above, and Carlsbad Senior Center after repeated incidents involving “harassing and abusive” behavior directed toward employees. Courtesy photo/DEB Inc
Carlsbad city officials have suspended an Oceanside woman from the Pine Avenue Community Center, above, and Carlsbad Senior Center after repeated incidents involving “harassing and abusive” behavior directed toward employees. Courtesy photo/DEB Inc
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Carlsbad officials uphold Oceanside woman’s ban from group centers

CARLSBAD — The Carlsbad City Council rejected an appeal this week from a North County woman requesting to lift a six-month ban from city-run community centers for her repeated “harassing and abusive” behavior directed toward city employees.

Mary Lucid, of Oceanside, had recently appealed her temporary ban from the Carlsbad Senior Center and Pine Avenue Community Center for several alleged incidents in violation of the city’s code of conduct and workplace discrimination policy.

The suspension was her fourth temporary ban in two years.

According to City Manager Scott Chadwick, Lucid also broke COVID-19 protocol for senior meal pick-up by attempting to hug staffers, objecting to a class and activities with near-zero attendance and repeatedly berating the staff.

Lucid also reportedly twice brought outside food to the centers in violation of health and safety regulations and followed and filmed the city’s Recreation Area Manager Margaret Hammer. The city had received numerous complaints from other seniors about Lucid disrupting group activities.

Lucid denied the accusations and questioned why Hammer would stockpile incidents about her conduct and staff decisions, claiming she was only expressing her protected free speech rights under the First Amendment.

“I never threatened her or moved from the table,” Lucid said of her interaction with Hammer. “She seems to be very nervous around me. I think the time involved is way, way out of line.”

Lucid submitted a letter to the city alleging the filming incident was a case of Hammer playing the victim instead of “displaying good judgment and laughing at the absurdity.” Lucid also said any rude or demeaning behavior toward Mike Pacheco, Hammer’s supervisor, is an exaggeration of facts and an attempt to cast her in a “bad light.”

But city staff disagreed with Lucid’s explanation.

“Dating back to 2016 staff has been on the receiving end of harassing and abusive behavior from this individual,” Chadwick said. “I have a legal obligation to ensure the workplace is free from such behavior.”

Chadwick sent Lucid her suspension letter last month, which noted that Lucid had previously been suspended three times, including a suspension from the public library in 2019. The letter states her suspension is effective as of Aug. 30.

“Universally, these complaints state that you are rude, hostile, and demeaning towards city employees,” Chadwick’s letter read.

Chadwick detailed a long list of interactions between staff and Lucid at the meeting. After a previous suspension, Chadwick said the city required Lucid to take anger management classes in order to return to the Senior Center.

City Attorney Celia Brewer said both the council and city have a legal responsibility to provide a harassment-free workplace for staff and the public. Brewer said a government may levy restrictions if an individual’s conduct is determined to violate city policies. The city had sent several letters requesting Lucid change her behavior toward city staff.

Brewer also sent a letter to Lucid on Sept. 25, 2018, regarding her behavior during a Carlsbad Chamber of Commerce event. The letter claimed Lucid made “taunting and derogatory” remarks toward a staffer, invaded the space, attempted to block an employee’s exit, told employees, “Good thing I don’t own a gun,” and “I don’t even own a gun,” and asked questions designed to embarrass or discredit employees.

Chadwick said another incident involved Lucid and former Community Development Director Debbie Fountain. Lucid reportedly compared Fountain to Adolf Hitler, remarking, “Good thing she doesn’t have an oven.”

During the meeting, Lucid also took aim at the staff’s decision to keep the Senior Center closed last year. But staff reported the city was only following state and county health orders. Lucid requested the city appoint an ombudsman as a liaison between seniors and Hammer and to create a panel of seniors to determine rules and enforcement.

While Lucid acknowledged there are “good” city employees, she also said there are ones with hidden agendas, claiming the Senior Center opened its doors to two unvaccinated 11-year-olds to “make money.” She further alleged some staffers constantly ignore seniors.

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