Thread: Big changes in Westbrook ME
01-05-2010, 06:52 PM #1
- Join Date
- Jan 2009
Big changes in Westbrook ME
the new mayor voted into westbrook me made some big changes right out of the gate today.
In her inauguration speech she has decided to fire the fire chief and wants to turn the city govt into a big business, but thats not my point.
"WESTBROOK, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- Colleen Hilton was sworn in as mayor on Monday night. It didn't take her long to get to work.
Colleen Hilton announced in her inauguration speech that she is not going to reappoint the Director of Finance. Instead, a new position of CEO of Financial Planning will be created. That person will oversee the finances of both the city and the school department.
The head of the recreation department won't be reappointed either. Mayor Hilton says she is creating a new position of Community Services Director to oversee social services and recreation.
Hilton is also asking fire chief Dan Brock to step down. She says there are systemic problems in Fire and Rescue that go back many years and it's time for those problems, which include allegations of discrimination and sexual harassment, to be addressed.
"He is a decent, honorable man. He's a really talented firefighter. But we just have changing needs right now," says Hilton.
In the meantime, Westbrook Police Chief William Baker will oversee the department. Baker says he is terribly sorry to see his good friend, Dan Brock, go. But Baker also says he supports the mayor in her decision to make some dramactic changes in city government.
Hilton says that soon an "interim management team" will step in to run Fire and Rescue as city officials work on finding long term solutions to the problems in the department."
My favorite part of the whole ordeal is that they have fired the Chief of the Fire dept and now have the Police chief making the decisions for the fire dept. maybe this might not be strange to some people, although, i find it RIDICULOUS that they would appoint someone into the position who may or may now know ANYTHING about the job. As it is its hard enough to get into a fire dept, but now instead of finding a new chief they have decided to just turn the police chief into some sort of emergency management position. Fire and rescue work are worlds away from police work. Not only that, at "some point" an interim management team will then control the fire dept. Why dont they just promote someone like any normal dept would do. Alot of this just does not make alot of sense.
link to story:
01-05-2010, 07:55 PM #2
So. the Mayor is blaming Chief Brock, with 1 year with the City for the "systemic problems going back years"?
I predict she will be a single term mayor."The education of a firefighter and the continued education of a firefighter is what makes "real" firefighters. Continuous skill development is the core of progressive firefighting. We learn by doing and doing it again and again, both on the training ground and the fireground."
Lt. Ray McCormack, FDNY
01-05-2010, 08:00 PM #3
01-05-2010, 08:08 PM #4
- Join Date
- Mar 2008
Why would you have the police chief take over for a fire chief? Wouldn't the asst. fire chief be a better idea?
01-05-2010, 08:11 PM #5
Obviously you Have you not been following the Westbrook follies for the past several years?
There have been many folks let go and so many charges of discrimination and sexual harassment lawsuits filed that they had to do something to make a change.
Chief Dan Brock took over last year from the interim position that was filled by Chief Baker. He was recommended for the position by Baker.
The boys club needed to be shut down.
This is in no way a rant against the chief. He is a solid Manager , but got into a very bad situation that has been going on for years. The taxpayers are tired of it.
And yes ,I do personally know many of the players in this game, so am well aware of what is really going on.
01-05-2010, 08:22 PM #6
At least she gave him credit for being a good firefighter. I wish she had added, he has a good heart and always did the best that he could with what he inherited. The Police Chief has already served as interim Fire Chief in 2008 into early 2009, so he just got it back again.
While it is too early for Chief Brock to access his options, I am confident he will find a department that will be greatful to have his skillset.HAVE PLAN.............WILL TRAVEL
01-05-2010, 09:07 PM #7
- Join Date
- Jan 2009
Even though he has stepped down as chief are they making him leave the department? this situation is a pretty strange one.
01-05-2010, 09:33 PM #8
Good bad or indifferent...I don't care I don't know or work for the man. However I have one question...
Ever notice that the same few "Chiefs" keep moving around from Dept. to Dept. Kinda like the same old coaches keep getting hired in sports. Maybe its time to let a guy you know....do the job for something other than a few months, year or two, before moving on to the next place.Co 11
Virginia Beach FD
Amateurs practice until they get it right; professionals practice until they cannot get it wrong. Which one are you?
'The fire went out and nobody got hurt' is a poor excuse for a fireground critique.
01-05-2010, 09:55 PM #9
01-06-2010, 12:23 AM #10
The new mayor was interviewed on the news tonight and praised the quality & dedication of the majority of the Firefighters and Paramedics employed by the city. She stated the need to get rid of a few bad apples that weren't operating in the best interest of the city.
She's not talking union busting or massive layoffs like many cities are doing, just bringing pride back to the department and getting it out from under the black cloud thats been present for quite a few years now.
01-06-2010, 02:57 AM #11The new mayor was interviewed on the news tonight and praised the quality & dedication of the majority of the Firefighters and Paramedics employed by the city.
I think this is more than that. The conduct of a few has poisoned the whole pie. So many heads will roll before this thing ends.
Anyone that has been in this business for a while as a Administrator understands you serve "at will". When you don't suit the 'will', you are 'willed' out. That usually starts at the top since the guy in the big chair is construed to be part of the problem. She did not point a finger at him as being the bad guy.
But in this case... the Mayor gave praise to him as she bled him out. It is the perverbial "I like you man and I respect the hell out of who you are... but I just need to kill you now."
I don't think she intended to hold him accountable for the problem, and I do not see that in this case. She just wants someone new that she can control. That is part of politics.
Ever notice that the same few "Chiefs" keep moving around from Dept. to Dept.
I serve at one department and sit in a office about 12 hours a day, 5 days a week. When I get this one back on track, then the local 'groomed' guy will take over and I will go to the next one.
Do I sound heartless or cold? Sorry, someone has to do it and when you are too old to climb ladders and fight inside, you either acquire a new skill set or you die young. My next assignment is already lined up in about 10 months... unless I get this one ready sooner, or the other completely goes out of control. So even though I serve one department, I am already examining the next patient.
But back to the topic... I don't see an economic translation in this case; It might come later or it might already be calculated in the guys that will be gone. I do see the mandate for re-building the public trust... and it is sorely needed there right now. My guess is she will conduct a national search due to the circumstances. Her credibility and reputation is on the line and she cannot take the chance she chooses the wrong guy from within.
I can only hope that Chief Brock doesn't take this personally and moves on with his integrity in place.HAVE PLAN.............WILL TRAVEL
01-06-2010, 07:43 AM #12
- Join Date
- Sep 2006
- Northeast Coast
An interesting note in this case, is that the Fire Chief and other department heads are politically appointed positions that serve at the pleasure of the mayor. This is in sharp contrast to most municipal department heads in the rest of the state (and elsewhere?) whom are hired by the City. So anyone taking this job has to know that it's a year to year position and your vision must align itself with the mayor's each time.
Sadly, while some of the WFD skeletons were being aired publicly, it may have been part of the needed change that the Chief was helping facilitate. I know tons of people in the area were appalled that employees were suspended with pay for extended periods, but none of them understand Union Contracts and employee rights.
01-06-2010, 08:55 AM #13
There is a LOT more to this story than meets the eye. I worked for the FORMER Chief while I lived in So. Portland for awhile. A real decent Boss. A couple of the principles in this mess are troublemakers,plain and simple. Going to be a Loooong time befor this mess is going to be to Madam Mayors satisfactiion,DESPITE what she thinks. She keeps messing around,Public Safety WILL suffer. But hey,I'm queen and I'm going to change the world. Good luck! T.C.
Last edited by Rescue101; 01-06-2010 at 09:00 AM.
01-06-2010, 10:07 AM #14
For those dinosaurs out there. Here is a pretty good synopsis of whats been going on for a long time.
Maine firefighters sue over sexual harassment
By Melanie Creamer
The Portland Press Herald
WESTBROOK, Maine — Two female firefighters have sued Westbrook's fire department, mayor and city administrator, claiming they failed to address sexual harassment that was documented in complaints to the Maine Human Rights Commission.
Kathy Rogers and Lisa Theberge, who have been on paid administrative leave for more than a year, filed their lawsuit Oct. 21, alleging obscene sexual harassment and discriminatory behavior.
The complaint says several male firefighters, including the deputy chief, lieutenants and captains, engaged in incidents ranging from masturbation and pornography at the station to a sexual affair and sex at a fire department gathering.
It alleges that the deputy chief once approached Theberge and began stroking her hair. He was put on unpaid administrative leave for two weeks and, the lawsuit says, ''allowed to take it a day each week for his convenience.''
Rebecca Webber, an attorney with Linnell, Choate & Webber who represents Rogers and Theberge, said incidents of sexual harassment and discrimination documented by her clients were reported to their superiors and city officials, who failed to act.
''Sexual harassment is alive and well in the city of Westbrook at a level that's shocking to imagine,'' Webber said.
The complaint alleges that some male firefighters groped female victims in the rescue vehicle and bragged about it afterwards. They were put on unpaid administrative leave for two weeks, discipline that Webber called ''disproportionate to their conduct.''
''This is a culture of lawlessness,'' Webber said. ''No one is taking action to stop it.''
The city disciplined seven firefighters last year for their behavior toward the two women. Among them was Lt. Donald Trafford, who was demoted to firefighter but had his rank restored in June by the state's Board of Arbitration and Conciliation. At the same time, the board extended Trafford's suspension from one to two weeks.
Fire Chief Daniel F. Brock declined to comment on the lawsuit. Brock joined the department on Jan. 6, replacing Gary Littlefield, who was put on leave in October 2008, a month before his retirement.
Mayor Bruce Chuluda, who was named in the lawsuit, said, ''The city and the administration are doing all that we can to reach an amicable resolution to the issue for all parties involved.''
In July, the City Council decided unanimously to pay the Center for the Prevention of Hate Violence as much as $20,000 to train the city's firefighters. Steve Wessler, executive director of the center, has been working with the city and the department to resolve the issues. He declined to comment on the lawsuit.
City Administrator Jerre Bryant also declined to comment. The city issued a statement saying the allegations of gender-based issues in the fire department have a long history, including multiple investigations, discipline and extensive education and training of the department's personnel.
''The city has been participating in a mediation process but that appears to have ended,'' Bryant said in the statement. ''The city remains committed to taking all reasonable steps to maintain an appropriate workplace environment within its Fire Department.''
In 1994, Rogers filed a sexual discrimination and harassment complaint against the city. The Maine Human Rights Commission ruled that she had grounds to sue, and the case was settled for $7,500.
In 2001, Rogers complained about sexual one-liners and unfounded rumors that she was sleeping with her superiors, and claimed that a male firefighter threatened physical violence.
Again, the commission found in Rogers' favor.
The case settled for $76,000, plus Rogers' attorney's fees. The department was required to hold sexual-harassment training.
In September 2008, the two women asked for and received administrative leave with pay. They have yet to return to work, and their absence has left the city with unbudgeted overtime costs.
Webber said her clients want to return to work and want the harassment and discrimination to stop.
''They just want to work. They don't want to be threatened,'' Webber said.
01-06-2010, 10:12 AM #15
To WHICH Dinos do you refer? hehe T.C.
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