The City of Encinitas Releases Fire Department Disciplinary Files
Under threat of legal action, the City of Encinitas has released documents that confirm the accusations of gross misconduct and negligence by fire department employees. The accusations were posted on the Leucadia Blog and other media outlets earlier this year. The release comes after months of refusals to the request for information on these incidents.
The City is under immense pressure for their lack of transparency and disclosure of public documents. The release falls on the heels of a successful lawsuit against the City for withholding the release of a public document which shows the City has fallen behind on road maintenance. The suit was filed by Encinitas resident Kevin Cummins. In the lawsuit, a superior court judge told the City of Encinitas that it was not in compliance with the law and required the City to release public documents.
The documents related to fire department disciplinary records provide evidence that the Fire Chief attempted to engage in a cover up over the accusations of misconduct within the department. Fire Chief Mark Muir, was a no show when scheduled to meet with the Encinitas Taxpayers Association in January to discuss leaks about the misconduct and current state of fire department oversight. Additionally, members of the City Council and City Manager refused to confirm or deny the misconduct or respond to requests for the release of the related documents.
“I’m happy that the City was finally pressured into releasing the documents, although the documents appear to be incomplete” states Steve Meiche, an Encinitas resident and fireman. Meiche caught wind of the misconduct and wanted to find out the depth of misconduct and confirm the seriousness of the acts. “These acts of misconduct were extremely serious and were signs of poor leadership from the fire department administration.”
Meiche said that after he reviewed the investigations of misconduct done by the fire department, it appeared they were not thoroughly investigated and incomplete. “It's obvious they are still covering up” said Meiche.
Meiche, a board member for the Encinitas Taxpayers Association says "The City has been covering up problems and in doing so have successfully manipulated the public's perception of the City's administration and financial status. One way they have been doing this is by constantly limiting the public's access to information."
The release of these documents comes at a time when the fire department union enters into negotiations for a new contract in July for pay and benefits. According to the new 2011 budget, the fire department projected a 6% increase in budget without any justification. “It is possible they could be factoring in a raise for fire department employees. No one knows” added Meiche.
The fire department projected $11,721,038 annual budget for 2011, a budget increase of $639,452 or 6% from the previous 2010/11 budget. Additionally, the 2011 budget is a $1,464,671 increase from the $10,256,367 actual fire department budget of 2008/09.
Meiche sums it by saying: “Something is not quite right here in Encinitas, there seems to be a lot of collusion and misinformation within our city government."