The Stanislaus Consolidated Fire Protection District placed embattled Fire Chief Steve Mayotte on paid administrative leave pending an investigation on Friday, Feb. 15.
The move came after a regular district board meeting on Feb. 14 where the board voted three to one in closed session to place the veteran fire administrator on leave. Board Director Charles Turner dissented on the vote citing that the action was too premature.
“Effective Feb.15, 2013 at 5 p.m., Chief Mayotte was placed on paid administrative leave,” said Stanislaus Consolidated Battalion Chief Paul Spani.
When questioned further to the circumstances, duration, or cause of the action, Spani declined to comment citing personnel rules.
In July 2012 the Stanislaus Consolidated Fire Protection District entered into a contract with the Oakdale City Fire Department and the Oakdale Fire Protection District, forming a merged headquarters providing management services between the three agencies. The restructuring allowed the implementation of a training and operations chief and an administrative and personnel chief. With the agreement, Oakdale gained the benefit of 24/7 battalion chief officer coverage.
Oakdale City Manager Brian Whitemyer said he was not told the details by the Stanislaus Consolidated Board of Directors.
Sources associated with the City of Oakdale and Stanislaus Consolidated have alluded that the reason for the leave is Mayotte’s friction with employees and the firefighters’ union, Stanislaus Consolidated Firefighters Local 3399.
Mayotte has been a chief with Stanislaus Consolidated since 2005. In recent years he has been besieged with a slew of labor-related issues ranging from a number of lawsuits and a ruling against him from an employment board (PERB) complaint from the union as well as a 2012 Civil Grand Jury investigation.
In May 2012, the Oakdale City Firefighters Association questioned if the city management had “considered the risk in turning over the city department to a leader that has been involved with so much litigation.”
At the Tuesday, Feb 19, Oakdale City Council Meeting Deputy Chief Michael Wapnowski was announced as assuming interim chief duties during Mayotte’s absence.
For further details on this story, read the Feb. 27 Oakdale Leader.