Archive for December 11th, 2018

Harvard FPD news

Excerpts from the

As the dust settled on months of infighting throughout the Harvard Fire Protection District, Harvard Fire Chief Steve Harter and Deputy Fire Chief Don Davidson were slapped with suspensions. The punishment stemmed from a letter sent in June that called the recent conduct of trustee and board secretary Joe Clarke unprofessional and hostile.

After talking in closed session at the Harvard Fire Protection District Board’s regularly scheduled November meeting, trustees voted without opposition to suspend Harter and Davidson for 36 hours, with the suspensions to be served in December at times approved by the board. 

In a letter sent June 19 to the board president, Harter and Davidson said it has become apparent that Clarke has waged a vendetta against the chief and other officers at the part-time fire district. “The actions within the last few months have been very unprofessional and have no place in an open meeting,” the letter read. “The belligerent, threatening and overbearing treatment has been escalating to hostile levels of attack.”

On July 21, Clarke said in an email to the other trustees that the letter demonstrated a significant level of insubordination. He also called into question a number of insufficiencies within the district. “Being queried on failure to conduct preventative maintenance on apparatus, missing fire incident reports, improperly handling an investigation into a vehicle accident involving EMS apparatus and the subsequent employee discipline, missing security box keys, secretive promotional process, insufficient response to request for job descriptions and policy changes, etc.,” Clarke wrote. 

In response, Clarke said the chiefs should be held accountable and disciplined accordingly, and he would support any decision reached by the other four trustees.

At the board’s June 12 meeting, Clarke called into question Harter’s credentials, such as whether he was a certified fire officer and what education in fire service management or fire science technology he has.

When pressed by the board, Clarke questioned the promotion process, which he would later call unethical during the board’s next meeting.

In August, the board hired a Naperville-based law firm that represents more fire protection districts than any other firm in the state – to conduct an investigation into employee misconduct, which Clarke said was because of the chief’s letter.

Between Aug. 14 and Nov. 28, the district paid the firm $3,240 for its services.
A FOIA request for documentation showing any findings or rulings from the investigation was denied on the grounds that the correspondence was intended for the purpose of assisting the board on how to discipline district employees.

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Chicago Fire Department news

Excerpts from the

When Chicago Fire Commissioner Jose A. Santiago retired in August, records show he was facing disciplinary action for failing to file a complaint against his driver. The city parted ways with him after the mayor’s office received an 11-page report from the Department of Human Resources, that recommended he be punished for violating the city’s equal employment opportunity policy.

According to city investigators, Santiago failed to file a complaint about a racial slur that his driver, Cmdr. Richard Rosado, uttered to the fire department’s news affairs director, Larry Langford, in the presence of the department’s chief administrative officer Annastasia Walker on Oct. 11, 2016. Rosado and Santiago are Hispanic. Langford and Walker are African-American.

Also, Santiago “knowingly provided false information” about the incident when he was questioned by Steven Malec, who is assistant fire commissioner and the fire department’s internal affairs director, according to the report.

Santiago retired Aug. 30 and now gets a pension of $152,046 a year.
He denies many of the allegations in the report. But in an interview he says he now sees that he should have stepped aside from the case and left it to one of his deputies to investigate.

“Say, are you the valet man?” Langford, in an interview with human resources, recalled joking to the commissioner’s driver. Langford told investigators Rosado responded jokingly, saying “N—–, pleeze.”

Rosado told investigators, “I intended the response in a joking manner,’’ adding that Langford “started laughing profusely.” Walker told human resources she immediately went to Santiago’s office and complained. She said Santiago told her: “I keep telling these guy to stop doing that. I keep telling them. I keep telling them.”

Santiago’s secretary backed up what Walker said, saying she was in the commissioner’s office at the time.

Santiago disputed that Walker came to his office. He says he went to talk with her after hearing something had happened. He also denies telling her that he previously had warned Rosado and Langford about their racial banter.

Even though Santiago denies that Walker wanted to file a complaint, the human resources report says Santiago was required to report the incident anyway.

Rosado, a 32-year veteran of the fire department, ended up getting a three-day suspension for using the racial slur. He served the suspension, then retired Oct. 9 with a pension of $74,469 a year.

Langford told human resources he wasn’t offended by Rosado’s racial slur, characterizing it as a jovial response typically used between people of color . . . From my perspective, this incident didn’t need to be reported.

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