Lake chief responds to criticism
Written by PETER KUEBECK Sentinel Staff Writer
Wednesday, 02 April 2014 10:12
MILLBURY - Lake Township Fire Chief Bruce Moritz got his chance Tuesday to respond to criticisms leveled against him last month.
"If you can't put your name to it, it's a rumor," Moritz said, addressing an anonymous email read at the March 18 trustees meeting.
The email, reportedly submitted by a group of township firefighters, was read by township resident Randy Saint John at that meeting. Moritz was attending a state firefighters' meeting in Columbus at the time and was unable to be present.
The email accused Moritz of yelling at, micro-managing and being disrespectful to firefighters, among other issues. Saint John had said the firefighters feared retaliation if they went to the township trustees with their concerns.
Tuesday night, Moritz said he was simply "very passionate" during an episode in question involving firefighters. "I was getting my point across to my people."
He noted those statements were meant to stay amongst the firefighters but someone "took it outside the room."
"And then someone else, and I think it's a very loud minority, seems to like to stir the pot in this community. And they came here to put this department down, and put me down."
"No one came to me to talk about these issues that were given," said Moritz, saying the email twisted his words.
He also addressed remarks reportedly ascribed to Genoa Mayor Mark Williams to the effect that Moritz was "Lake Township's problem now."
Moritz was formerly the chief of the Allen Clay Joint Fire District in Genoa. He was hired by Lake Township in August.
He distributed copies of a letter, signed by Williams, to trustees.
Moritz discussed the letter, saying Williams indicated in it he did not make that statement - and did not attend the event in Genoa where the statement was allegedly made.
"This is signed," said Moritz. "It's not anonymous."
"What I see as an issue within this department is some people have found a way to further themselves. ... They chose to go around the chain of command and get to you people," said Moritz. "And all that does is cause problems in this department."
Moritz noted the attendance of numerous Lake Township Fire/EMS personnel at the meeting and asked if they were there to support him.
"Yes, sir," the group answered.
"That's brotherhood," said Moritz.
"It's just a few loud individuals that's doing this," he said.
After finishing his speech, fire and police personnel in attendance rose and gave Moritz a standing ovation.
Police Chief and Township Administrator Mark Hummer also addressed the issue.
"I am very touched that these firemen are here to support this chief," he said. "My guys (police officers) saw what happened to the fire chief two weeks ago, harpooned by an anonymous letter and a gadfly. My guys, unbeknownst to me, are here today. And I'm very touched.
"Anonymous complaints aren't heard on my desk," Hummer said later. "I'll look at it. But I won't listen to it."
"There's no one in this community, nor in the service of this township, that has any reason to feel intimidated that they can't talk to us," he said later, adding "Thank you all for coming here and listening to the whole story."
The township trustees also expressed their support for the fire department.
"It hurts when we're splashed on the front page in a negative light," said Trustees Chairwoman Melanie Bowen. "That's not what we're about."
"The true colors of you folks showed a couple years ago when we were in our darkest hour," she said, referring to the Lake Township tornado of 2010.
"We have issues, and we're trying to address them, and we will continue to address them. But I hope that all of you know that we are not unapproachable people up here."
In other business, the trustees:
• Went into a 40-minute executive session to discuss personnel compensation. After coming out of executive session, they voted unanimously to increase the compensation rate of the Lake Township Parks and Buildings Superintendent position to $22 per hour. The position is currently held by Ron Hanley.
Bowen noted that Hanley has undertaken additional responsibilities in recent years.
• Approved the $13,293.50 purchase of a 2011 Chevrolet Impala for the Police Department from Ed Schmidt Auto Group, Perrysburg.
• Approved a contract for the purchase of 400 tons of road salt. It was noted that this order is a reduced amount, as the balance of a previous salt order is to be delivered this week.
• Approved the payment of $2,000 for the Ohio Fire Instructor Training Program. Four township firefighters - Cory Ammerman, Ed Brown, Matt Kamann and Steve DeYoung - are shortly to be state certified fire instructors after completing the program.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 02 April 2014 11:00