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Response from NCCFD Director Grueneberg

Nevada County Consolidated Fire District Board Member Keith Grueneberg has submitted this response in regards to an Intent to Recall Petition filed with the Nevada County elections Office.

This is a frivolous personal attack on me, using fabricated allegations that could cost the district nearly $50,000 in election related costs charged by the County.  Decisions are made by a majority of the Board; no director can act alone.  Step raises were budgeted and approved by a majority of the Board.  Director Rhodes, Personnel Committee Chairman, is the lead negotiator for the District.  The union contract is currently under negotiation.  I am not involved in negotiations.   I find it ironic the recall proponent violated District policy on 6/17/09 and the former fire chief violated it on 2/23/09, the same policy she references. I have not violated any laws or policies.  I have always been open with information concerning District operations.  As a former fire department executive, I have asked pointed questions regarding personnel and financial issues, causing District administration to become nervous and defensive.  This year alone, I have opposed what I considered gifts of public funds totaling $83,065.  The recall attempt is blatantly malicious harassment designed to silence my efforts to identify and remedy damage caused to the District by the misconduct of disgruntled ex-employees. Over 90% of the District firefighters support my position on the Board.

1 Comment

April 28, 2013

Lisa LaBarbera, Proponent of Recall

In response to Grueneberg's statement posted on KNCO here are the ACTUAL facts:

1) "...Decisions are made by the majority of the Board..." This is a true statement. However, the Board looked to Grueneberg as their "leader", the guy "in the know". He WAS a Fire Chief. Well, they never did do a background check on him prior to appointing him to the Board, after another board member passed away. Had they, the Board would of found out that he was a fire chief for ELk Grove for ONLY 3 years.
I feel the majority of Board has recognized the need to get the District back on tract and their first positive step to was to remove Grueneberg as Chairman of the Board and remove him from most board committees on 3/21/13. It is my understanding that the majority of the board feels they were "duped" by Grueneberg.

2) "...Step raises were budgeted..." The ONLY concession give backs that were put into the budget were for the period of July - December 2012. However, the concession give backs that were actually given (and only to the NCCFD Local 3800 Union FF's) extended retroactive to January 2012. January 2012 - June 2012 WAS NOT budgeted, even the Resolution shows retroactive to July 1, 2012.

3) "...I am not involved in negotiations...Rhodes is lead negotiator..." Technically he is correct, because as of 3/21/13 he was NO LONGER involved in negotiations and NO LONGER the lead negotiator. However, PRIOR to 3/21/13 he was the lead negotiator, assigned to negotiate with the NCCFD Local 3800 Union FF's. Rhodes was assigned to "all other" bargaining units.

Grueneberg uses "smoke and mirrors" to hide behind rather than be truthful.

4) Reference to emails sent by me and the former fire chief: Yes, back in those days (2009) funny emails, slightly off color were sent around by the majority of the employees. NO ONE complained or sought out disciplinary action on anyone. But there is a difference between those emails and the one Grueneberg sent-see 5)

5) "...I have not violated any laws or policies..." Grueneberg not only violated the District's Discrimination and Harassment Policy, the District's Electronic Communication Policy, HE violated State and Federal Labor Laws as they relate to protected class (all female admin staff, including an African-American staff member).

HE circulated the video with racial overtones by email to the Local 3800 Firefighter’s Union President, Wyatt Howell, who then forwarded to other members of the District. "The email was disparaging and derogatory as well as insulting to the administrative staff it was directed toward (Warren Knox 3/21/13 Board Meeting)."

6) "...I have asked pointed questions regarding personnel and financial issues..." And he has received his answers. The problem is he does not like the answers. So, he keeps asking the questions over and over in hopes you will give him the answer he wants. If you fail to give him the answer he wants, then he begins in on the very personal attack of how you are not doing your job properly.

7) "...I have opposed what I considered the gifts of public funds..." What he considered gifted funds is not gifted funds. These items were budgeted and some are part of each bargaining units salary and benefit contract (MOU)...which Gruenberg made to the motion to approve (via resolution) at the November 2012 Board meeting.

What WAS a gift of public funds was giving the NCCFD Local 3800 FF's concessions retroactive back to January 2012 at an estimated UNBUDGETED cost of approximately $20,000. Because of this some NCCFD Local 3800 FF's received a 10% increase in salary in a one year period.

8) "...misconduct of disgruntled employees..." As the former HR Administrator, to my knowledge there has been no "misconduct" of disgruntled ex-employees. I am unaware of any disciplinary action (verbal or written) taken against any disgruntled any ex-employee.

9) "...90% of the NCCFD Local 3800 FF's (District) support my position..." Of course they do, Grueneberg proposed the new MOU to the Board for review (prior to 3/21/13), that will cost the taxpayers $81,000 - $100,000, not including the unbudgeted $20,000 already given back. The new MOU is 70+ pages, up from the previous 20+/- pages. And this is only ONE of four bargaining units.

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