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Hannibal Courier - Post - Hannibal, MO
  • Document urges Hannibal fire chief's dismissal

  •   An anonymous document urges the Hannibal City Council to dismiss Fire Chief Tim Carter, even as the embattled administrator maintains that he must be put back to work.

     


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  •   An anonymous document urges the Hannibal City Council to dismiss Fire Chief Tim Carter, even as the embattled administrator maintains that he must be put back to work.
       The unsigned, undated memo was distributed to the six councilmen, Mayor Roy Hark and City Attorney James F. Lemon in advance of what may be a showdown over Carter’s employment at tonight’s 7 o’clock council meeting.
       Carter’s appointment as chief expires Thursday.
       The Courier-Post obtained a copy of the memo Monday.
       The document mirrors many of the same unproven charges found in an impeachment that was filed against Carter last February. The council voted unanimously to drop the charges in July.
       Carter called the memo’s allegations “nothing but rumors and gossip.”
       “It’s kind of like dealing with double jeopardy here,” Carter said Monday. “If you can’t get me one way, let’s go through the back door.”
       The memo calls Carter a dishonest “maverick” who is “not a team builder.”
       It also partially quotes the city’s personnel policy on reasons for an “at will” dismissal, and outlines why Carter’s purported actions allegedly meet the criteria.
       City Clerk Angel Vance said she was given the document at last week’s closed-door Fire Board meeting and told that it would be used as an “attachment to the discussion to be held” Tuesday night.
       Vance said she did not know who wrote the attachment, but that copies were put in sealed packets marked “confidential closed session information” and distributed via officials’ city hall mailboxes.
       Some officials had not opened the packets and were not aware of the contents.
       Councilmen Barry Louderman and Mike Dobson are to speak at tonight’s meeting, but both declined to discuss what they plan to say.
       “My hope is that tomorrow night we reach a conclusion on this,” Louderman said Monday.
       Louderman is chairman of the Fire Board, which oversees personnel decisions in the department and includes Councilmen Kevin Knickerbocker and Lou Barta.
       Louderman said the memo “should not be available to the public” because it was part of a confidential, personnel-related issue that dealt with possible litigation and that doing so would be a “breach of the Sunshine Law” on release of information from closed meetings and “an impeachable offense” under the city charter.
       Hark and Lemon said Monday they had not seen the document, but Lemon confirmed a vote had been taken at last week’s Fire Board meeting and that a proposed settlement was offered to Carter.
       Lemon did not offer specifics because the board had agreed to keep the proceedings secret until the case is resolved. Carter declined to discuss whether he had received a settlement proposal.
    Page 2 of 3 -    Capt. Charles Paxton, who heads the union that represents all but a couple of the city’s 40 firefighters, was not available for comment Monday.
       The union took a no-confidence vote on Carter in March, but did not make the results public. However, two separate sources confirmed to the Courier-Post that the vote was overwhelmingly against the chief.
       Carter was accused in the impeachment of acting unprofessionally and being derelict in his duties for alleged fraud, dishonesty, insubordination and oppression of others in the department.
       The charges, which Carter refuted, dealt mostly with his purported actions on asbestos removal at Fire Station 3 and a former television studio that was being converted to a Fire Department administrative office. Carter also was accused of not following Fire Board directives.
       Carter has asked for an administrative hearing on his November 2009 suspension. The Fire Board put him on paid administrative leave without public explanation. A hearing has not been scheduled.
       “They’ve never given me my due process,” Carter claimed Monday. “The notion that I became an at-will employee (upon being suspended) is hogwash.”
       Carter did get a chance to tell his side of the story at a closed-door Fire Board meeting in August.
       Lemon concurred with Carter’s claim that he will remain chief until a successor is named, regardless of whether Carter is formally reappointed. Lemon also said the city charter allows Carter to return to the department, even if it’s not as chief.
       Carter, 39, has been with the department for 17 years, and was named chief in 2006. Terms of the administrative leave call for him to stay on through Dec. 1, then retire and receive a full pension two years later.
       Carter has said he would return at a lower rank than chief, but declined to say whether he would sue the city if he’s not returned to work. Bill Madore is the Acting Chief.
       Following is the memo:
    “Reasons for not renewing Tim Carter as Hannibal Fire Chief
    “Maverick” personality style – not a team builder,
       e.g. believes that since going for the “white shirt”, he has been ostracized.
    Disregard of subordinates’ perceptions,
       e.g. their opinions did not matter – they should be told what to do.
    Multiple Probation extensions during his time as Fire Chief.
    His belief that essentially “the ends justify the means,”
       e.g. providing blatently (sic) false statements on a FEDERAL Grant Application.
       e.g. disregarding Asbestos Inspector’s instructions during renovation work.
    Disregard of MO DNR Regulations resulting in a fine to the City of Hannibal.
    Attempted to commit City funds without authorization or budgetary approval of $100K.
    IMPORTANT DATES: 9/23/08 Carter informed of decision to re-appoint him as Fire Chief – per Minutes, but City Clerk records show 9/22/08.
    Page 3 of 3 - Unacceptable Conduct Reasons for “At-Will” Dismissal 9/24/10
    #1”…any action that is detrimental to the City of Hannibal’s efforts to operate effectively.”
       e.g. Disregarded a MO DNR asbestos related requirement resulting in a FINE.
       e.g. Failure to disclose to his firemen a POTENTIAL exposure to toxic materials.
    #3’Dishonesty when providing information…”
       e.g. Making over a half dozen false statements on a FEDERAL Grant Application.
       e.g. lying to the Fire Board as to his presence at Station #3 during the removal of potentially asbestos-containing materials.”
     

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