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  1. #1
    MembersZone Subscriber Golzy12's Avatar
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    Default Minneapolis FD captain sues city. Claims her ex girlfriend (MPLS fire chief) was bias

    Minneapolis fire chief accused of job bias by ex-domestic partnerFire captain files federal lawsuit alleging Bleskachek scuttled possible promotion

    BY BILL GARDNERPioneer PressA
    Minneapolis fire captain and former domestic partner of Fire Chief Bonnie Bleskachek filed a federal lawsuit Tuesday against Bleska-chek and the city of Minneapolis, accusing the chief of interfering with the captain's career.
    Jennifer Cornell said in the lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Minneapolis that Bleskachek "has a history of animosity, ill-will, malice and bad faith conduct'' toward Cornell.
    Cornell said she had been denied training opportunities and last month took a test for battalion chief that Bleskachek canceled after Cornell was one of two firefighters who passed the first part of the test.
    Bleskachek said Tuesday night that she had not seen the lawsuit and had no comment. Mayor R.T. Ryback and spokesmen for the city also declined to comment.
    The suit seeks an end to discrimination against Cornell and asks for damages of more than $75,000.
    Cornell and Bleskachek were co-founders of the Minnesota Women Firefighters Association and were early leaders among female firefighters in the department. Bleskachek became interim fire chief in June 2004 and was named fire chief in November 2004. She was sworn in Jan. 13, 2005.
    Cornell said she was one of 13 candidates who took the battalion chief exam Feb. 6 and one of two who passed the pass/fail portion of the test. The other was "another fire captain with whom Defendant Bleskachek had recently ended a twenty-year friendship,'' the suit said.
    The suit said Bleskachek's current girlfriend also took the test but failed.
    According to the lawsuit, Bleskachek called Cornell and the other woman who passed the test to City Hall, "where she stated to them, 'I am unhappy with the test results.' "
    The chief "immediately suspended the remaining portions of the test,'' the lawsuit said. A week later, "Bleskachek canceled the entire testing process and Plaintiff was denied the opportunity to complete the test for advancement and promotion,'' the suit said.
    Last month, Cornell received a disciplinary warning "falsely accusing her of alleged sick leave abuse,'' the suit said. It was Cornell's first disciplinary notice in 12 years in the department.
    The suit also provides a history of the relationship between Cornell and Bleskachek, who were domestic partners from 1996 to 2001 and share custody of two children. Cornell accused Bleskachek of abusing her on approximately 10 occasions during their relationship. The suit said Cornell's "ribs were injured, her eyes blackened, and her head incurred bruises and hematomas."
    In February 2005, Cornell complained to the court-appointed parenting consultant that Bleskachek was endangering the children and violating Minneapolis Fire Department rules by "responding to fires in her department vehicle, with lights and sirens going, at high speed, with their children in the car.''
    The suit said the parenting consultant later prohibited that activity by Bleskachek.
    Cornell also said Bleskachek abused the 911 system in July 2004 by paging her on the system to ask for more custodial time with their children.
    When Bleskachek was named fire chief in Minneapolis, the decision was hailed as a landmark moment. She is the first woman to lead a professional fire department in Minnesota, though Madison Lake has had a female chief for its volunteer department since 1999. And Bleskachek is believed to be one of the few openly gay fire chiefs in the nation.
    "She's broken barriers and that's significant," Mayor Rybak said while nominating Bleskachek. "But what's especially significant is that none of it is considered that big of a deal in the fire department. There she's known more as a leader and as someone who has worked side by side in the line of duty."

    http://www.twincities.com/mld/twinci...s/14100126.htm

    Wow, thats a pretty interesting article. What does everyone think. I think relationships should be kept professional within a fire department just my .02.


  2. #2
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    Double standard is the word I have for it. How many departments would allow a male fire chief to date / live with 3 female captains on the department he was the chief of?

    I'll be curious to see where this goes.

  3. #3
    MembersZone Subscriber ChiefReason's Avatar
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    It's all about revenge and
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    Fill in the amount and say bye bye.
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    Forum Member FyredUp's Avatar
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    Chief Reason, please do not take what i am about to say as an attack on your post.

    Now on to the regularly scheduled comments:

    1) Unless the department has a policy specifically banning members of the FD from having personal relationships it does not matter if the participants are staright or gay or lesbian.

    2) It appears from the article the realtionship ended very badly.

    3) It appears quite clear that the chief abandoned the process when her candidate didn't make the cut.

    4) It appears quite clear that this captain has an actionable position against the chief and the history will be in her favor.

    FyredUp

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    Sounds like a case for Guy Noir, private eye. But on a side note, I find it interesting that in a big city like Minneapolis, one can test for battalion chief in 12 years.

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    I find it interesting that in a big city like Minneapolis, one can test for battalion chief in 12 years.

    That's probably not that unusual...that's half a career if it's a 25 year pension system.

    What's more interesting to me is you only had 2 people pass the exam, which raises an eye-brow.

    1) What would you test pass/fail at that level? That your name matches social security number?

    Ask the questions, score the answers, list the numerics.

    2) Was it a bad test (that only 2 could pass)

    or

    3) Was it a bad pool (that only 2 could pass)

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    Women, you gotta love them.

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    Forum Member DaSharkie's Avatar
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    Dal,

    Theoretically, using the Massachusetts Civil Service system you can test for Lieutenant after 1 year of being a firefighter.

    You can test for Captain after 1 year of being a Lieutenant.

    You can test for Deputy Chief after 1 year of being a Captain if I recall as well. (In some departments there are no Captains so you can test for DC after 1 year of being a Captian.)

    Wacky I agree, but that is the system. So theoretically you could be a DC after about5 or 6 years on the job. This is especially true since most departments have traditionally chosen the top candidate and thus established "past practice" which has been fough in court a few times if I recall correctly.


    As for the case at hand........Keep it professional, not personal. And don't dip pen in company ink.
    "Too many people spend money they haven't earned, to buy things they don't want, to impress people they don't like." Will Rogers

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    Cornell said she was one of 13 candidates who took the battalion chief exam Feb. 6 and one of two who passed the pass/fail portion of the test. The other was "another fire captain with whom Defendant Bleskachek had recently ended a twenty-year friendship,'' the suit said
    Sounds like the chief should spend more time running a FD than using it as her personal dating service.
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    Shawn Stoner
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    Quote Originally Posted by FyredUp
    1) Unless the department has a policy specifically banning members of the FD from having personal relationships it does not matter if the participants are staright or gay or lesbian.
    I would question as to why any large municipal department wouldnt have such a policy. Thats why you have an HR department - to prevent things like this.
    Warm Regards,
    Shawn Stoner
    EMT-B

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    In our department, a list can be abandoned if less than five candidates are left on the list. Seems to me that there wasn't a viable list although other circumstances are present. In BC testing here, the written score only counts as 25% of your final score with 75% from an assessment center.

    Eligibility requirements for Battalion Chief;
    5 years as Captain and 10 years on job.
    4 years as Captain, 10 years on job and an Associates degree in Fire Science.
    3 years as Captain, 10 years on job and a Bachelors degree in Fire Science.

    Captain;
    1 years as Fire Apparatus Operator and written test for eligibility, ranked by score.

    FAO;
    10 years as FF plus driver certification. Promoted by seniority.

    Thread Killer Extraordinaire!

  12. #12
    Rabble rouser Kobersteen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DetroitFF
    Sounds like a case for Guy Noir, private eye.
    Sounds like they don't get enough ketchup.


    But on a side note, I find it interesting that in a big city like Minneapolis, one can test for battalion chief in 12 years.
    Hell, here in Fairfax County (35 stations vs. 19 for Minneapolis and 1,226 sworn personnel vs. 421 for Minneapolis), if you hit everything right and score high, you can be a BC 9 years after graduation from rookie school.

    3 years as a firefighter to test for Lieutenant.
    2 years as a Lieutenant to test for Captain.
    2 years as a Captain to test for Captain II.
    2 years as a Captain II to test for BC.
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    It's really interesting what you can find with Google these days.

    Here's a link to an article written by Capt. Cornell on Disciplinary Action.
    http://firechief.com/management/fire...linary_action/

    Another on writing skills
    http://fe.pennnet.com/Articles/Artic...ION_NUM=3&p=25

    Minneapolis Walks the Walk
    http://www.wfsi.org/resources/archiv...php?article=24
    Last edited by N2DFire; 03-16-2006 at 09:44 AM.
    Take Care - Stay Safe - God Bless
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    I agree with nonsurfincaff and his post.
    What is that thing called they teach us in "discrimination" class?
    Quid-Pro-Quo?

    I think that a male fire chief would have been run out of town for doing exactly what this chief did, whether he's straight or gay.

    *Mark
    Last edited by mark440; 03-16-2006 at 10:23 AM.
    FTM-PTB-RFB-EGH

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    MembersZone Subscriber ChiefReason's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SSTONER
    I would question as to why any large municipal department wouldnt have such a policy. Thats why you have an HR department - to prevent things like this.
    Gender and sexual preference really has nothing to do with this case.
    It wouldn't even be about the relationship between the two had it not spilled over into the workplace. If they were working for different employers, the relationship and the break up wouldn't have made the news.
    But since the relationship is one where it may or may not create a hostile work environment, it has to be addressed. Once the firefighter perceived that her former partner was using their position to affect the outcome of a possible promotion, that's where the trouble begins.
    And if the tension isn't between the partners, if anyone else working in the same department believes that their behavior is affecting THEM, then they have a right to file a civil action.
    Again; sexual persuasion or gender isn't the issue. It's about a relationship gone bad.
    CR
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    Quote Originally Posted by CpaceEng1
    Women, you gotta love them.

    Bonnie's been doing it for years..

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    Let's talk about a different story:
    A Chief of a department is accused of violence against his spouse, on multiple occasions.
    The Chief violated department standards by responding to calls with lights and sirens, while his kids were in the car.
    The Chief is dating a Captain on the department.

    If this was a true story with a male Chief on my area, he would be gone.
    Is there a different standard in this case, or is it just a Minnesota thing?
    Is the City Governemnt so enthralled with having a representative of a certain segment of society that they are willing to overlook serious flaws with this person's behavior?

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    Sharkie,

    You're somewhat mistaken. You need 3 years in the firehouse as a FF (at least in Boston) and I'm assuming other Civil Service departments as well. After that only 1 year applies. We just went through this with the LT exam in November. A bunch of guys had sued to get on and get rid of the quota system and got back time to 2000 but Civil Service would not let them take the LT exam.

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    Talking

    Does time playing a chief on TV count? I played Chief Wild Eagle on a revival of the old F-Troop sitcom for six years on our local cable access. I have numerous positive reviews and testimonials regarding my leadership capabilities along talent for physical comedy.

    Oh, and the allegations of an affair with the actor playing Crazy Cat are a bold faced lie. we were just friends... honest. So sue me....

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by BostonJake2340
    Sharkie,

    You're somewhat mistaken. You need 3 years in the firehouse as a FF (at least in Boston) and I'm assuming other Civil Service departments as well. After that only 1 year applies. We just went through this with the LT exam in November. A bunch of guys had sued to get on and get rid of the quota system and got back time to 2000 but Civil Service would not let them take the LT exam.
    Civils Service's time in grade for promotion to LT from firefighter is one year.
    My city, Like Boston, requirees at least 3 years on the job as a firefighter before taking the LT'.s test. After that, for Captain you need a year in grade as an LT, a Captain needs a year in grade to be a Deputy, etc.

    There is a caveat, though... if not enough qualified candidates for a rank sign up, the next exam is opened up to the lower rank, for example, for Deputy Chief, if not enough Captains sign up for the test, the exam is cancelled, the next one is open to both LT's and Captains.
    ‎"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

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