Posts Tagged Harvard Fire Chief Steve Harter

Harvard Fire Protection District news (more)

Excerpts from the

A request for police presence at Harvard Fire Protection District board meetings after a trustee’s concerns that a meeting attendee posed a threat was turned down, Harvard Police Chief Mark Krause said.

In November, Harvard Fire Chief Steve Harter and Deputy Chief Don Davidson were suspended for 36 hours based on a letter they sent to board President Thomas Condon in June calling the conduct of Trustee Joe Clarke unprofessional and hostile.

During December’s board meeting, former Harvard Firefighter Don Carlson said he was extremely disappointed in the board, particularly Clarke, whose bullying is destroying the reputation and confidence in the fire protection district chiefs and staff.

Several fire chiefs, including Marengo Chief Bob Bradbury and Woodstock Chief Michael Hill, also spoke during the meeting in defense of Harter’s and Davidson’s character and service.

In a memo dated Jan. 2 to McHenry County Board Chairman Jack Franks, Krause and attorney David McArdle, Clarke wrote that Carlson has distorted the facts, forced his son to resign from the district and has reviewed personnel files from his 31 years of service with the village of Arlington Heights.

“Mr. Carlson’s actions have gone far beyond what a rational citizen would do in questioning a public official,” Clarke wrote in the memo.

In conclusion, Clarke said in the letter that he believes Carlson carries a concealed firearm during meetings and that he poses a threat of “going postal.” Therefore, he recommended board president Thomas Condon formally request the assistance of the Harvard Police Department in maintaining order and security at meetings.

“A uniformed police officer is better suited to silence and remove Mr. Carlson from the meeting room should he have another outburst of behavior,” Clarke wrote.

Krause said he and Condon reviewed the memo and agreed the fire protection district is not interested in having a law enforcement presence at meetings.

Carlson said in an email to the Northwest Herald that he was surprised and appalled to be accused of being a threat, and his attendance at meetings was to express his feelings about a trustee he feels is a bully.

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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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