Central Yavapai Fire District Chief Paul Nies wants to keep his job, but has retained an attorney because he believes the district's Board of Directors has violated his rights, and that his firing may be inevitable.
"My attorney sent a letter to the attorney for the district, making certain claims and offering a remedy," Nies said, adding that the board will vote on what action to take at its Tuesday meeting.
"That said, the environment here likely will not change, and part of the negotiation and that settlement would be me separating service," he said.
Nies said he doesn't want to go.
"I have never offered to resign," he said. "I would like to stay."
Board Member Debbie Horton, who has not been a Nies supporter in the past, was somewhat conciliatory.
"The board is hoping to be able to work with him," Horton said, which would avoid legal action.
But, she said, the issue of a letter of resignation, which Nies claims he did not file, and Horton said he did, is an issue.
"It was a 3-2 vote on accepting a letter of resignation. Whether or not we had (one) has been in dispute," she said.
Nies said that a board member, whom he would not identify, asked him, "rather forcefully" to quit, which was what triggered his decision to hire an attorney.
Because the issues are still in discussion with the board, Nies said he couldn't be specific about what claims the attorney's letter includes.
The recent board vote to keep him on, "while gratifying," was hardly a mandate, he noted and, because he's an at-will employee, "they can vote at every (meeting) as to whether they want to keep me or not."
As a result, he said, now, "I either negotiate with the board to settle my claims, or I get to litigate." He would keep his job during any court action, he said, until the case is decided.
Horton said that, if he made "drastic changes in his management style," she would be willing to reconsider her past votes.
"If he's saying he wants to stay... maybe Tuesday, we'll have a new discussion," she said. "Things can change, so I guess I'll have to be open-minded."
Nies said that, while he's not a conspiracy theorist, he finds it strange that Prescott Fire Chief Dan Fraijo was ousted last week. "I want to believe that's coincidence," he said. "It certainly is going to have an impact to have two tenured fire service leaders leave the area basically within a couple of weeks of each other."
Asked if that last comment meant that he felt he would be out of a job soon, Nies said, "I think that's what might happen."
Posted: Wednesday, October 16, 2013
Article comment by:
Interesting article........what's next with Prescott
Posted: Monday, October 14, 2013
Article comment by:
How about some background to enlighten readers, PVT? How did we get here? Exactly what are the issues? This article lacks any substance beyond telling readers we have some sort of disagreement between the Chief and his bosses. Another amateur offering by the PVT.