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Fire Department Whistleblower

Liz Jones

Investigators hired by Mayor Nickels have determined the Seattle Fire Chief did not retaliate against a whistleblower. But the investigation has prompted several accountability and ethics reforms within the department.


The whistleblower complaints were filed last year by a high ranking officer, Jim Woodbury. One complaint was against a fire marshall who failed to collect nearly $200,000 for services at Qwest Field. The Seattle Ethics commission recently substantiated Woodbury's claims. But Woodbury was later demoted. He believes Seattle Fire Chief Greg Dean retaliated against him for filing the misconduct complaints.

Jack Sheridan is Woodbury's lawyer. He calls the city's investigation inadequate, and he plans to sue.

Sheridan: "So we'll be seeking lost wages, and one of the biggest impacts on him is his retirement. Because he is nearing the end of his career, and your salary in the last few years really affects what your check looks like."

Sheridan says Woodbury's demotion included a 22% pay cut.

Meanwhile, Mayor Nickels has announced several ethics reforms for the fire department. They include shifting some accounting functions to the city's Executive Administration Department, and a restructuring of contract services.

The Mayor's Office has also hired an independent investigator to recommend discipline for fire department personnel involved in this case. That report is due next month. Liz Jones, KUOW News.

© Copyright 2009, KUOW

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