Ugh, politics!

I work for a "local government" which oversees the Fire Chief, who oversees our Fire/Rescue Service. This service has been a constant source of controversy in town because they lose money every year.

A newly elected Town Board member takes "potshots" at the Fire Chief and his department at a public level every chance he gets. The Fire Chief has extended many offers to meet with him and to answer any question, any time but the Board member fails to show up for appointments, etc. One-on-one, the Board member is friendly to the Chief.

Is there anything in HR law that allows for recourse for an elected official's bad treatment of an employee? It's really getting under the Chief's skin.

Thanks in advance for your help!


  • 13 Comments sorted by Votes Date Added
  • No, it's politics. I suppose, if the potshots reach the level of defamation of character, the Chief could sue the member, but it probably isn't at the level. Maybe the Chief can donate to a recall effort.
  • If it rises to the level of harassment, I would assume you have a policy that would then be in effect. Doesn't sound like it yet though; just some politician acting like an a**hole.
  • But since the elected Town Hall member is not an employee, the HR harassment possibility is pretty much limited to those situations where 3rd party harassment is part of the policy, such as sexual harassment.
  • The newly elected probably does not want to settle the controversy. Stirring the pot makes for good media coverage and everyone loves a little bit of that negative gossip. Small towns are specially prone to this because everyone knows everybody else's business.
    If the issues were settled, people would have to go back to talking about the weather, the fire danger and the lack of mining jobs. How much fun is that?

    Please forgive me for being a bit tongue in cheek - but as Gillian and Larry both said, this probably does not fall under any sort of harassment guidelines.

    It is an opinion being expressed and when a public department loses money - of course it will be under the spotlight.
    I would bet there are other departments that also lose money - but c'mon - how much can you cut a fire department when one good fire on the wrong side of town, fueled by some strong westerly winds, could kill people, hurt people and wipe out bunches of property.
    I would just tell the chief to grow a thick skin and keep placing the public good in front of the people who care.
  • Thank you for your replies. I didn't know of any law that would protect him, but wanted to ask "my Source". Thanks again.
  • our Fire/Rescue Service. This service has been a constant source of controversy in town because they lose money every year.

    Easy to fix........set a fee schedule for rescues, not that hard.

    Auto accident,$500.00, $1,000.00 if jaws of life are used
    Cat out of tree $300.00
    Kid out of tree $500.00
    Kids or cats from burning building $1,000
    Water rescue $1,000 $2,500 if they drove into high water.
    Firefighting saving of house: $2,500
    Tornado or all other rescues: $750.00

    I hope this board memeber never has a fire at his house, I have $5.00 bucks that says they let it brn to the ground, claim equipment malfunction/failure and blame hime for not approving more budget dollars.

    My $0.02 worth........

    The Balloonman

  • Thanks Balloonman. I'll pass on your list and see if they can use it.

    The "rescue" portion of the service is actually our ambulance service. Because we don't have our own hospital and we're 70 miles away from the nearest one we're somehow limited in the amount we can bill...I don't really understand the nuances.

    At any rate, you'd probably win your $5.00.
  • Reimbursement rates for ambulance services are indeed, very limited by medicare and medicaid (in some states)third party insurance usually does a fair job. Emergency calls are usually billed a flat rate for either basic life support or advanced life support and mileage; emergency or non-emergency and mileage. Look to your ambulance services' billing department to see if there may be a problem with precertification of services for non-emergency transportation. It may be that the staff doen't understand the precert requirements and the regular follow-ups required to get some of them to hearings if needed. If their rate schedule has not been increased, ask the chief if he is active in the Nevada state EMS association - they often have special interest groups that can push reimbursement reform with medicare/medicaid/third party or work for rural remote services at the state legislative level. Your problem is not uncommon.
  • Public figures really have little recourse against this sort of thing. I work for a municiple corporation and have been criticized in a public manner (with facts clearly false), many times. It has been advocated over the local radio that I should be fired. The only thing that can be done is to be patient and endure the criticism. If the person becomes careless and goes over the line to the point where even a public figure can sue, then my advice is to go for it. The other options are to grin and bear it OR have a third party (like a human resource professional) that has some credibility go public and essentially call that person a liar or an ignorant and uninformed public official. They really don't like that but watch your back if you do it.
  • If the only gripe is they lose money every year, then have the Fire Chief communicate why that is; ie, insufficient funding, bad luck, impossible to plan for situations, etc. Of course, if his own poor management skills are a factor, then help him figure out how to improve.

    I assume your town has regular public business meetings with an agenda where both elected officials and department heads are present. Perhaps this is the place to confront the accusations. Your Fire Chief probably has his supporters as well who may be able to help muzzle the new kid. This approach assumes his ducks are in a row. Otherwise, silence is golden.

    That being said, how to deal with fellow human beings, especially those with more power and authority, is the age old problem, and no one method is best. Your Fire Chief has to decide for himself the pros and cons on what actions to take, if any.
  • Check your Town charter, which may contain claues governing the behavior of the Board members.
  • I would also have your Fire Chief keep a record of his attempts to meet with the Board member.
  • Lots of good suggestions! Thanks.
Sign In or Register to comment.