Saturday, February 7, 2015

Nothing Showing (Charlotte Fire Chief and City Manager Say There's NoFire)

In fire department jargon "nothing showing" is both a relief and a let down. It means a suspected fire is nothing, and all other units responding can return to their stations.
But firemen live to fight fires, so there's nothing wrong with having a look around, just in case.
When it came to the recent firing of Crystal Ecshert, CFD Chief Jon Hannan and City Manager Ron Carlee reported "nothing showing".
No Smoke, No Fire, Just a false alarm, Return To Your Stations, Just Move along.
But Charlotte's Clair Fallon decided to have a look around. 

Now local media is asking questions and Carlee and Hannan are spending tax payer dollars like crazy while still saying that there is nothing showing.
Crystal Eschert
Charlotte's WSOC aired this story Friday night:
Secret recordings are raising new questions over the firing of a Charlotte fire investigator and how higher-ups conduct investigations of employees.

On Aug. 27, 2014, Charlotte Fire Department fire investigator Crystal Eschert was called in to meet with two supervisors to discuss a complaint about posts she made to her private Facebook page regarding the Ferguson, Missouri, police shooting.

Eschert secretly recorded the meetings. Eyewitness News anchor Allison Latos listened to the recordings firsthand. In them, CFD supervisors ask Eschert to defend herself and explain the Facebook post but not to do it through city email.
In the recordings a Charlotte Fire Department HR supervisor can be heard saying, “Type it at home. Print it. Don't email it. Print me a copy and I’ll come get it. I'll meet you somewhere and get a hard copy."

“Delete it,” the HR supervisor then can be heard saying.
Eschert claims her supervisor also provided his personal email address for the communication.

Charlotte Firefighters Union President Tom Brewer believes the request to correspond through private accounts raises suspicions.

“There is no other reason you would ask someone to do it off line, then delete it, unless you wanted to hide it,” Brewer said.
Two days later, Eschert did send her statement, but from her city account.

She wrote, "I did not feel comfortable conducting city business through my personal email, which is why I chose to send this through my city email."
On Friday Channel 9 requested an interview with the Charlotte Fire Department about those recordings.

Channel 9 was told before lunchtime that one was in the works. Then at 4 p.m. Charlotte Fire Department spokesman Rob Brisley emailed Channel 9 saying, "At this time CFD has declined media availability to WSOC."

Ron Carlee claims Charlotte government is fully transparent, and to prove a point he's hired an outside attorney Allison Van Landingham (at a rate of $350.00 per hour plus $150.00 for an assistant) to independently investigate Eschert's retaliation claim. 
Van Laningham

He's also hired an outside consulting firm at a cost of just under $90,000 to review Charlotte Fire's policies.
Meanwhile WBTV snagged the interview with Charlotte Fire Chief Jon Hannan. A clear snub noted as WSOC has taken a hard line against Chief Hannan in the past.
From WBTV:

Where the people were working in the building, there was not a mold issue,” Chief Hannon told WBTV.

Hannan was aware of the complaints, but said the individual taking issue with work conditions did not put in any time there.

“That person has never been assigned to this building. Never worked in this building,” he said.

Chief Hannan says he's expecting consultant's study - to be released in several days - will vindicate the city by determining that complaints about mold came from an unnamed source.

“It will validate that we didn't know," he said. "We had no idea who made the complaint about mold in this building and there can be no retaliation, because we didn't know who made the complaint.”

Several times on Friday WBTV reached out to Eschert's attorney for a statement through a phone call and email, but did not receive a response as of Friday evening.

Cedar's Take: Strange Chief Hannan was not available to talk to WSOC on camera but was happy to sit down with WBTV, famous for softball questions. 

But let's play a game of connect the dots.....
The newest public information officer (PIO) for Charlotte Fire Department, Cynthia Robbins Shan-Kahn just happens to be the wife of former senior assistant City of Charlotte attorney, Mujeeb Shan-Kahn. She was hired by the Fire Department just last month.
Cynthia Robbins Shan-Kahn
Attorney Mujeeb Shan-Kahn worked for Charlotte and was hired as Greensboro's city attorney in 2012, and is now in a city attorney of Monroe, North Carolina. 

Link to the WFMY news story is here.
Interestingly enough, during Shan-Khan's ever so brief tenure in Greensboro he hired apparently hired Allison Van Laningham to help the Greensboro Police Department defend against and settle a number of lawsuits involving current and former police officers.

The payments to Van Laningham from the City of Greensboro has been reported to be just shy of $400,000.00.

Shan-Khan's time at Greensboro came to an abrupt end after a 90 minute emergency closed door council meeting in which he tendered his resignation. At question was the issuing of a $750,000.00 city check without a signed contract. 
Shan-Khan found work before his severance package expired by taking the City Attorney job in Monroe.

Mujeeb Shan-Kahn  

Keep in mind the Charlotte City Manager Ron Carlee said the investigation into Crystal Eschert's claims would be transparent and be conducted by outside sources.
Cedar's Take: If it walks like a duck, well just hard to believe VanLaningham - Shan-Kahn - Charlotte Fire PIO connection is just an odd coincidence. Particularly when VanLaningham's experience is limited to trial ligation.

Charlotte Fire Chief has already stated he ordered the firing of Eschert, but is claiming the reason was her facebook post. Frankly that same "cut and paste" commentary was repeated over and over in the weeks following the Ferguson Riots. I can see a dozen cases of city employees both police and fire that still have the same "status" showing on their facebook account." There is no telling the number who posted the exact same wording and they still have jobs. 

I'd expect a cash settlement is in the offering and in short order.


Anonymous said...

I smell a sewer spill in Charlotte, not sure Haz-Mat can clean this mess up. Unreal !!!

Anonymous said...

Corruption at its best. Sounds like Herbert Judon's shenanigans at airport several years ago. For those of you who don't know who that is he is the asst airport director for the city. The fire dept should hire him.

Anonymous said...

The Chief is well known tantrum thrower. No doubt this is a massive cover up and heads need to roll.

Ask any of the few brothers in the department, they'll tell you the chief is the biggest sexist/racist of them all.

Anonymous said...

What a POS!

Got caught this time, and Carlee is a pussy unless he cleans house.

Anonymous said...

So I'm assuming Chief Fire Investigator Paul Wilkinson WILL BE FIRED and Deputy HR Kristi Kjeldsen WILL BE FIRED. I mean they did violate city policy and committed some serious and unethical behavior.
How can they be trusted, Fire Chief Jon Hannan claims we have to be trusted

Anonymous said...

So now we know the answer to this question:

“Are they truly hiring someone to conduct an independent, impartial, third-party investigation and report, or are they preparing an expert report for use in any expected litigation?” Crystal Eschert's Lawyer on the city hiring outside experts.

Anonymous said...

Can't she appeal her firing to the CS board????

Anonymous said...

I would have thought it was heard by the Civil Service board. The NC law for the Civil Service board says police officer or uniformed member of the fire dept.

Everyone in the fire dept wears a uniform. From firefighters,education,investigations,inspectors and dispatchers. I even talked to an investigator at a Hornets game, thinking it was a firefighter.

But if the board didn't hear it, how was she ever fired???? this would be a law violation and employment violation by the City and Fire Chief.,d.eXY

Anonymous said...

Here is info on the CS board from City of Charlotte. You are right it does say uniform personnel when dealing with the Fire Dept. Something smells again................

Section 4.61 of the Charlotte City Charter provides members of the City's police and fire departments who have been employed for longer than 12 months with the right to have the Board review various types of personnel actions, including termination. -

Section 4.61 of the Charlotte City Charter provides, in pertinent part, as follows:
(f) Definitions. The terms “officer or employee” or “officer,” as used in this Article, shall mean sworn officers with regard to the police department and shall mean uniformed personnel with regard to the fire department.

Anonymous said...

Part 1. Have they asked Chief Fire Investigator, Paul Wilkinson about his own transgressions of sending hundreds of texts and making repeated phone calls to a married woman? As I recall, the husband complained, but Chief Hannan and Granger covered it all up for him. Not to mention the fact that he made these texts and phone calls to this married woman and mother of three on a Charlotte issued cell phone, which Deputy Chief Granger said was no problem.

Chief Investigator Paul Wilkinson also had two private lunch meetings with this married woman without her husband's knowledge. He was also messaging her on FaceBook as well. However, when called on his Fire Department issued cell phone by the husband, Paul Wilkinson immediately deleted his Facebook page and then decided to tell his wife that he was just catching up on old times with this other man's wife. I hope you all caught that last statement where I said, he then told "HIS WIFE" about the secret contacts he was making behind her back after the husband called him?

Sweet Paul Wilkinson even bought this wife lunch at "Pinky's Restaurant". Isn't that right Mr. Chief Fire Investigator? Paul Wilkinson stated that he spoke with one of the assistant district attorneys and they told him that Mrs. Eschert's reputation was damaged and that was obviously one of the reasons the city of charlotte is saying the termination was justified. How about the Chief Fire Investigator's reputation if everyone finds out about his rendezvous with another man's wife?

Is Paul Wilkinson not tainted as far as public trust is concerned? Can the people believe him more than Mrs. Eschert in court? He was cheating with another man's wife while he was on duty and being paid by the tax payers! Would that not constitute misuse of city time and receiving funds under false pretenses? If he's flirting and carrying on an extra marital relationship while he's suppose to be attending to Fire Dept. business, then he's cheating the tax payers by receiving funds for services he wasn't providing. I think you can check and see that he even sent his married girlfriend fire scene pictures while he was at a scene. Of course, he sent pictures from the beach to his married girlfriend while on vacation with his wife and kids as well.

Anonymous said...

Part 2

Where's the policy that states that you can send hundreds of text messages to a married woman without her husband's knowledge at all hours of the day and night on a cell phone paid for by the City of Charlotte? Did I mention that he met this man's wife while on duty, in uniform and while driving a fire department vehicle? Did I mention that he was texting and calling this married woman while on duty as well as off duty? Hannan did nothing for the husband and even refused to apologize because the attorney said not to. Was Paul Wilkinson suspended? Terminated? No, he worked daily as the direct supervisor of his division while the deputy chiefs and the chief knew exactly what he had been up to and they had the proof in their hands. Where was their concern for the sanctity of this man's family and marriage? Nothing was done even though they had pages and pages of proof delivered straight into Kinniburgh and Hannan's hands.

Hannan and the rest couldn't see anything beyond terminating Mrs. Eschert, but they couldn't have cared less about the husband's marriage and family. Paul Wilkinson, You've destroyed my friend's family and marriage. Didn't the husband actually give you an opportunity to apologize to him and his kids with a promise to sign any papers necessary to guarantee he would not later sue you? Yeah, he did, but you called an attorney and tried to scare him off. Did it work? I don't think so! Why has the Chief Fire Investigator not been terminated for advising a subordinate employee to go around public access communications? Why, because he has done much worse in his unethical dealings with a married woman. Ask him to deny he did this. There are dozens of pages and other communications proving everything stated here. Chief Fire Investigator, Paul Wilkinson, you still owe my friend and his kids an apology. Maybe, you, Chief Paul can go after this man's wife once again. I hear due to you, this marriage never healed and divorce is imminent. Aren't you proud?????? The sad truth probably are!!!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

Hey, isn't Wilkinson the chairman of "Do-The-Right-Thing, INC." ? Sounds like a great selection to head up an organization with this name and that works with kids. Chief Hannan knows this guy was messing around with another man's wife behind the husband and his own wife's back and they did nothing? Nothing? And they fired this lady over a FaceBook Post? How low can this Chief Investigator Paul Wilkinson be? The husband asked for an apology and agreed to sign an papers necessary to guarantee he would not later sue him and Paul Wilkinson ran to a lawyer. He should have "Done the right thing" and apologized for what he had done. Of course, I'm sure he was scared to death of the old law that is called "Criminal Conversation"! What a coward! Wouldn't even apologize and he was promised a signed agreement to not pursue legal action against him. Where was Chief Hannan, Rodney Monroe and all of the others worried about public concerns over Mrs. Eschert when this man's family was being violated by the highest ranking member of the Fire Department's Investigation Division? Personally, I hope there's a way this husband and father can pursue a suit against the city and the fire department for their actions.

Anonymous said...

The Chief Fire Investigator, Paul Wilkinson destroyed a marriage and he's still the Chief Fire Investigator? He also happens to be the one advising a subordinate under his supervision to write a letter outside the City's email system to avoid Public Access Laws, but she gets fired and he tore apart a marriage and is still the Big Cheese in charge with the chief's blessings!
Come on Hannan, do right by this man who didn't ask for your buddy to ruin his marriage. Hundreds of texts while on and off duty and using his Fire Dept. issued cell phone? And they do nothing? And they had documented proof handed to them? Sounds like Wilkinson has something on the chiefto get by with something like that without any punishment.

Anonymous said...

That's ok Hannan is fully aware that one of his Division Chiefs is doing the same thing with a married woman and has been for a while. The sad thing is it is a firefighters wife. She is a friend of mind. She has told me this Chief is out telling everyone she started it all. Texting and calling. What a liar. Hannan will cover up anything that has to do with lying for his buddies