I-Team 8

New Palestine’s clerk-treasurer is working from home — and not just because of virus

NEW PALESTINE, Ind (WISH) — Tonii Pyle was elected the New Palestine clerk-treasurer in the last town election.

Almost right after she assumed the office in January, there was trouble.

Jim Robinson, the town manager, told I-Team 8 that Pyle hasn’t worked in the physical office for weeks. Her desk has been cleaned off. Her computer has been disconnected and unplugged.

“In the last 30 days, she has cleaned out the office,” said Robinson, who isn’t real sure if Pyle has partially given up on the job.

“At the end of the day, some things are getting done, you know. Our payroll was done but it was late. It was complete. We do have late invoices, but day-to-day operations, if a constituent were to walk into the Town Hall, they would not be met with a town clerk,” Robinson said.

There is some family history involved: Pyle’s father in-law, David Book, served as town manager for 30 years. He was fired in March and died a short time later. His obituary is taped to a filing cabinet in the clerk’s office. The Town Council has filled legal action against Book and Pyle.

“There are two ongoing investigations. Currently we have one with the former town manager, David Book, and, from what I understand, it has been turned over to the prosecuting attorney, and we have another against the clerk-treasurer. Originally, it was filed with the sheriff’s office, and ghost employment,” said Town Council member Angela Fahrnow.

I-Team 8 found Pyle at her house in the Hancock County town east of Indianapolis and asked her to explain why she was away from the office. She agreed to talk and had a four-page document of issues between her, council members and other town employees. She says, shortly after taking office, a council member physically threatened her.

“He wouldn’t move and continued to get louder and more belligerent and continued to threaten me, and so I pushed the door closed behind me so he would get the hint to please move and he didn’t,” Pyle said.

She began working from home at the start of the pandemic, and when the rest of the town employees come back to town hall she continued to work from home. She loves the job. However, she says, the environment is hostile in part because of her father-in-law. She says her intentions are to keep working,

“I wish they would focus on what is best for the town and not worry so much about what I’m doing. I’m doing my job. If I wasn’t doing my job, they would know. Things would not be getting paid. Things wouldn’t be running. If they have any questions, all they have to do is reach out and ask me,” Pyle said.

The clerk-treasurer is the keeper of the town’s money and records and, as the Town Council prepares for a new budget, they have no idea how much money is in the bank.

Pyle says she probably will not seek a second four-year term and questions whether she will complete this one.