While we, the proponents of the Recall Grueneberg 2013 effort, agree with the The Union’s editorial, “the full NCCFD Board needs to be held accountable,” we also feel it is highly improbable that there are seven individuals who would be willing to step up and run the Nevada County Consolidated Fire District board in the manner it should be run.
Please note, we are not opposed to recalling more board members (all of them, if necessary), but we also feel that by removing the rotten apple first, there is hope that the rest of the bunch can be saved. By deposing Keith Grueneberg (March 31) from the chairman seat and removing him from all standing committees, it is the first step in the right direction. By admitting their oversight on the special tax measure, that is the second step.
It is not just at the NCCFD that Grueneberg has had a problem. Maybe The Union should ask Sheriff Keith Royal of the Nevada County Sheriff’s Office for information on why Grueneberg was “relieved of duty” by him earlier this year.
And since you mentioned it, why did this “opinion” also not mention there were no charges ever filed against the former chief, that the DA would not even entertain the issue since it was just “two adults behaving badly”? Why did you not mention that Grueneberg convinced the board to use his friend, his former employee and then district resident, to head an internal investigation when the district already had an investigator out of Placer County?
Transparency is a two-way street. Yes, the NCCFD Local 3800 union firefighters and the public were upset with the former chief’s severance package, but for two different reasons — the firefighters because this potentially took money out of their pockets and the public because the board was not transparent as to how it arrived at the $75,000 figure.
The public should have been made aware that more than half of this was for accrued leave, which by law an employer must pay when an employee terminates. The board, by not properly following procedures in the former chief’s issue, opened the district to possible litigation. The former chief, by resigning, did so for the good of the district, and he saved the taxpayers more than $100,000 (the balance of his contract).
Not only having publicly admitted that he came on board to “clean house” and publicly showing his complete and utter disdain for the NCCFD’s now former fire chief, division chief, battalion chief, HR administrator and district/board secretary, Grueneberg has also shown complete and utter disdain for transparency. Yes, shame on the rest of the NCCFD board for looking to one person for all their answers when they are a group of seven.
We do believe that with the removal of Grueneberg from office, the rest of the board and department can “attend to the job at hand in providing the community with the excellent fire protection for which it has paid.”
Lisa LaBarbera, former human resources director with Nevada County Consolidated Fired District, lives in Grass Valley.