The arbitration resulted in a settlement payment of
The lump-sum payment will be paid by the fire district's insurance company, Commissioner
But Fisher said despite the lawsuit and settlement, he and his fellow commissioners
"We concluded he wanted the chief's job, and he didn't really care how he got it," Fisher said.
The fire district commissioners decided to break their court-ordered silence about the case after a story was published Sunday in the
"I would say that I deny (breaking the confidentiality agreement) and disagree with their perception or their opinion," Walsh said Friday when asked to respond to the commissioners' claims.
Blamires did not immediately return a call seeking comment, and Walsh said he didn't have a response to the commissioners' claim that Blamires was gunning for Keller's job.
"That was never talked about or revealed to the union during this investigation," Walsh said.
Either way, both sides are now openly talking about the settlement. Walsh and Fisher both confirmed it was for
The commissioners do not want to disparage Blamires publicly, Fisher said. But they want to tell their version of what led up to Blamires' firing, and what's happened since.
Blamires "did a dang good job" when he was first hired, Fisher said, and helped improve the district.
But the trouble started in
Blamires' lawsuit claimed Keller harassed and retaliated against Blamires for reporting him. The commissioners saw it differently.
"(Keller's) was another situation taken care of through the rule book," Fisher said. "(Blamires) tried to turn it into a vendetta."
About a year ago, the commissioners spoke with Blamires and the situation improved, Fisher said. But then firefighters under Blamires' command began complaining about him. In separate interviews, two firefighters each told the commissioners they'd lost trust in Blamires and felt they could no longer work with him.
"They started having trouble with morale, and that's a problem," Fisher said. "These guys run into burning buildings, not out. They have to have trust and confidence in each other."
Blamires was fired in January for disorderly conduct. Fisher said Blamires' conduct boiled down to him wanting Keller's job and doing anything to get it.
"We disagree on the version of events," Walsh said Friday.
After his termination, Blamires filed the wrongful termination lawsuit against the district and Keller, also accusing the chief of violating
Meanwhile, the entire incident has had and could have a much further-reaching impact than just a wrongful termination lawsuit.
In August, Keller was a finalist to become
"Over the course of the past several days, allegations against
And on Tuesday, with the lawsuit in the back of their minds, voters will go to the polls and decide whether to increase a levy to give the fire district more money. The levy needs a 67 percent "super majority" for approval.
The levy hasn't increased since 1992, Fisher said, despite a 200-square-mile coverage area with a growing population.
"We're past a volunteer fire district," the commissioner said, adding voters should approve the levy for their own protection.
"This is for taking care of the people of the district," Fisher said. "We've got to stay ahead of this ballgame, not be behind. It could save somebody's life."
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