The Carol Stream Fire District has initiated a termination hearing for one of their battalion chiefs.

The Daily Herald has been following this story and has an article from 2/12/14 about the opening of the proceedings:

A lawyer for the Carol Stream Fire Protection District says the charges leveled against Battalion Chief Joseph Gilles are “straightforward” — among them that he twice refused to sign a performance improvement plan, that “his peers do not trust him as a manager,” and that he twice fell asleep in meetings.

“Fire Chief Richard Kolomay has responded to Battalion Chief Joseph Gilles’ performance deficiencies since he’s become chief in 2010,” said Karl Ottosen, Kolomay’s attorney. “Lack of trust by his peers in his leadership abilities, hygiene issues, weight issues, communication issues.”

The termination hearing began Wednesday for Gilles, charged by Chief Kolomay for twice refusing to sign a performance improvement plan in what Kolomay’s lawyers have termed a “serious breach of conduct.”

“On Aug. 25, 2012, everything started to change for Joe Gilles,” said Aldo Botti, attorney for Gilles, during Wednesday’s proceedings. “For 18 years, Joe worked for your fire district and did an excellent job. You can’t deny his rights, whether the chief likes him or not.”

Gilles was the first witness called Wednesday. He confirmed under questioning that an evaluation from 2007 stated that he “needs to work to earn the respect of his peers,” and that his “uniform appearance was not up to acceptable standards.”

Gilles’ lawyers had made assertions that his weight remained essentially the same since being hired, but Gilles confirmed that his listed weight at time of application in 1995 was 240 pounds and his weight on a February physical was 361.

An email from Kolomay dated Sept. 10, 2012, directed Gilles to get specific questions answered by eight people responding to the paramedic call. Gilles sent a Kolomay a summary of his investigation three weeks later, stating that based on his review, the paramedic’s performance was below standards. Gilles recommended disciplinary actions for a lieutenant and two paramedics.

However, Gilles later confirmed that his report did not contain any recommendations to contact Central DuPage Hospital, where Nonneman died, the coroner’s office or Nonneman’s family with results of his investigation, which is contrary to previous claims.

Ottosen alleged that Gilles twice fell asleep during meetings in April 2013, including one time during an emergency operation meeting after flooding in the area, when the village’s police chief videotaped Gilles sleeping. Gilles was found “unfit for duty,” pending a sleep study.

The performance improvement plan, or PIP, which was presented to Gilles on July 27, cited three core issues from informal reviews, including that Gilles “lacks proper management skills,” “doesn’t garner the respect of his peers,” and his peers “do not trust him as a manager or leader.”

“A criticism exists that Battalion Chief Gilles does not create any level of expectations within his shift,” Ottosen said, reading from the PIP.

Gilles was ordered to report back on July 29 with the signed PIP or there would be formal termination charges. Gilles reported for work that day in a new uniform, brought in flowers and bagels for staff — but told Kolomay he wasn’t going to sign the PIP.

A letter from Kolomay on Aug. 3 gave Gilles three options — signed approval of the PIP, to “amicably separate from the district,” or to not sign the PIP, commencing termination hearings. Gilles did not choose an option, and in an Aug. 19 email, Kolomay explained to Gilles possible charges for termination and the option for a separation agreement.

Before the hearing, a motion was granted that testimony given, or evidence presented, related to the Aug. 25, 2012, paramedic call would be presented in closed session. Kolomay’s attorneys made the motion not to allow testimony about the incident in light of the pending lawsuit. The hearing resumes at 4 p.m. on Thursday.

Another Daily Herald article from 2/15/14:

Robert Schultz said he never reported Joseph Gilles’ shortcomings as Carol Stream Fire Protection District battalion chief in close to four years serving under him, but he claimed the feelings of Gilles’ performance were a “nightmare” he carried from one firehouse to another.

“Four years ago when I was promoted as company officer I came into a shift that had worked with Battalion Chief Gilles for quite some time. They were exposed to all the things that were in his personal improvement plan for years,” said Lt. Schultz during an at times contentious back and forth with Aldo Botti, Gilles’ attorney. “As a new officer, I am not going to go to my bosses with the fact that he wears a dirty uniform shirt, the fact that he may eat like a slob, when he’s always late for roll calls, when he doesn’t teach us.

Schultz, serving as acting battalion chief while Gilles is suspended without pay, was the second witness called in Gilles’ termination hearing that resumed on Friday. Schultz said he first met with Kolomay to discuss Gilles’ performance on June 1, 2013, days after Gilles received an email from Kolomay that he was being put on paid administrative leave. Schultz said Kolomay was doing an “informal inquiry of command staff,” and Schultz was asked Gilles’ strengths and weaknesses.

The PIP was presented to Gilles in July, citing three core issues: “lacks proper management skills,” “doesn’t garner the respect of his peers,” and his peers “do not trust him as a manager or leader.”

Schultz testified that as a battalion chief Gilles “was very good at making sure the boxes were checked” but was lacking in several other areas. He said that Gilles’ appearance on shift was “poor,” the condition and color of his uniform were not up to standards, and his command on the scene “nonexistent.” He said he neither trusted nor respected him.

Schultz said that during meals Gilles “had a history of coughing on our food” and “spilling his glass of milk onto our plates,” and he said he had witnessed Gilles falling asleep during “several meetings.” “During one meeting I was giving the status report of another firefighter, he had his hands crossed, head tilted down, and his eyes were shut,” Schultz said. “I said, ‘I guess this meeting is over’ and walked out.”

Schultz, who was also on the Aug. 25, 2012, call, said he shared concerns that the call “wasn’t up to the fire district’s standards” with Gilles sometime before the end of that shift. Schultz said he knew Gilles did not relay the concerns to the deputy chief, gave it about a week, then went to the deputy chief himself.

Gilles was subsequently asked by Kolomay to investigate the call and said in testimony Thursday that Zabran’s actions “rose to the level of termination.” Only months later, after failing her own PIP, did Zabran leave the district. Gilles said he twice told Kolomay that Zabran’s alleged negligence should be reported to Central DuPage Hospital, which oversees the district’s Emergency Medical Services program, and that Kolomay said “he would take care of it.” But Gilles now believes the EMS director was never notified.

 thanks Dan