Consolidated Fire Protection board took a vote three weeks ago to terminate Fire Chief Rick
Top district officials did not report the Oct. 25 decision to fire Weigele until coming out of a closed-door personnel session at Thursday's regular meeting.
According to the report, the board voted 3-1 on Oct. 25 to terminate Weigele's employment contract. Board Member Steve Green of Waterford voted against the motion. Weigele was offered the option of resigning prior to termination, the report said.
Dozens of Weigele’s supporters attended the Oct. 25 special meeting to urge the board to keep the chief, who was hired in May. Board President Susan Zanker said at the end of the half-hour closed session Oct. 25 that no “reportable” action was taken.
Some charged the appointed board had committed a Brown Act violation when word spread Oct. 26 that Weigele was placed on leave after the Oct. 25 meeting and was told his last day of work was Nov. 25.
District Legal Counsel Christopher Diaz maintains the board was not required by law to immediately report the disciplinary action against
The district board has not disclosed the reasons for terminating Weigele, who became popular with local officials and residents in just five months on the job. The 26-year fire service veteran could take legal action over his dismissal.
“It is in the hands of the attorney,” Weigele said Tuesday. “I don’t agree with the termination. I think it was wrong. I asked that it be brought out in public and it wasn’t.”
Officials from Riverbank, Oakdale, Modesto Fire Department and other agencies had urged Stanislaus Consolidated leaders to work out their differences with Weigele. They said stability in the chief's position was critical because of the fire district's arrangements to serve Oakdale and continue with dropped boundary agreements with Modesto and Ceres.
Winnie Mullins of Valley Home said the district is losing a talented fire chief. She agreed with a suggestion made by Oakdale officials, who wanted the district to bring in a consultant to handle the personnel issue. "I can't imagine why that is not happening," Mullins said. "You have a very valuable fire chief here."
Weigele is the third chief to leave the district in two years. Stanislaus Consolidated has not outlined the next steps to find a new chief.
Thursday, the board voted 3-0 to appoint Deputy Chief Michaelas acting chief.
Stanislaus Consolidated Board Member David Woods, who has been under scrutiny for selling furniture to the fire district, did not attend Thursday's meeting. There is one vacancy on the 5-member appointed board.
At Thursday's meeting, Zanker told the audience that Woods gave a $6,161 check to the district last week to return the proceeds of selling nine recliners to the fire agency in 2016. The board member owns a business called Fire Station Outfitters; the recliners sold to the district were used to furnish fire stations.
Sale of the furniture was a potential violation of state laws designed to prevent public officials from using their offices for personal gain.
Zanker said the district will be looking at its purchasing policies and updating the board on conflict-of-interest laws and Brown Act rules. District staff members approved three separate purchases from Woods' business, none of which exceeded $5,000. Under current policy, certain staff members can approve purchases of less than $5,000 without a formal bid process.
Diaz, the district's legal counsel, has said he would investigate the recliner purchases.