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Butte firefighter hire has commissioner questioning county’s hiring policy

Posted at 2:23 PM, Apr 25, 2019
and last updated 2019-04-25 18:16:38-04

BUTTE – A Butte commissioner wants the county to review its hiring policy after the recent appointment of a Butte firefighter was stained with controversy.

“I have asked Chief Executive Palmer and Chief Jeff Miller to hold off on the confirmation until we vet this process and I hope they do,” said Commissioner Jim Fisher.

Butte Chief Executive Dave Palmer approved the appointment of a firefighter candidate earlier this year despite not being one of the top-rated candidates in the pool.

“We have received a letter from the Fire Commission and the from the battalion chiefs and assistant chief and once we receive the letter I don’t think we can ignore their concerns and I think we need to address them,” said Fisher.

The Butte chief executive has said he selected candidate Levi Davenport because he lives in Butte. Some argue the decision was not based on merit.

“There’s five people on the Fire Commission and we have five people that are the battalion chiefs and the assistant fire chief that amounts to 10 people who are disagreeing with the practice that was used to hire these people and I think as long as we have 10 people who say it wasn’t done right and one person who says it’s done right, I think it’s a due duty to address this in the commission,” said Fisher.

Anonymous letters were sent to the Chief Executive’s office and the fire chief’s office in late March and early April suggesting nepotism in the hiring of candidate Levi Davenport because he happens to be the son-in-law of Butte County Attorney Eileen Joyce.

“I have nothing against the person that’s going to be hired, all I think is we should review the process and make sure that we’re not opening ourselves up to legal action,” said Fisher.

The chief executive is expected to ask the commissioners to confirm his firefighters choice at the regular meeting on May 1. Chief Miller said he could not comment on this story. Palmer was not available for comment Wednesday.

Reporting by John Emeigh for MTN News