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Fire Dept. Probe, Human Resources Separate Issues At Pensacola City Hall


Pensacola City Administrator Eric Olson’s out with some details about two issues going on at City Hall. One involves the Fire Department, the other deals with personnel policy.

City Administrator Eric Olson says the issues are not related, despite some media reports to the contrary.

“I like to look at it like there are two boxes – one is a box labeled ‘Investigation,’ and another is a box labeled ‘HR Manual,’” said Olson. “But that doesn’t mean that they’re in anyway linked. They just arrived on the same day.”

Olson does confirm that a complaint has been filed by the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which led to Interim Fire Chief Matt Schmitt and Deputy Chief Joe Glover being removed from duty.

“The city is notified, and the city’s insurance carrier is notified,” Olson said. “On the advice of counsel selected by our insurance carrier, we have placed two individuals [Schmitt and Glover] on administrative leave. They are in no way being disciplined or punished; it’s simply an administrative procedure, and they’re on full pay and benefits.”

Coinciding with the actions at the Fire Department, says Olson, are changes in the city’s Human Resources manual. Some have claimed that the changes were made in an attempt to alter the appeals process in which Schmitt and Glover would have recourse.

“We have two sets of appeals,” Olson said. “Administrative appeals and disciplinary appeals. There’s been some discussion about the disciplinary appeals process, and a personnel board that existed in the previous version of the HR manual, and has now been removed.”

Olson says when the new, strong-mayor form of government came in six years ago, they never made all the necessary changes in the HR manual. A provision for an independent personnel board was in place, but it had never been seated. Last fall, a complaint by a city employee – not with the Fire Department -- reached that level of appeal.

Those changes to the HR manual were made in December but weren’t published until last week -- the same day as Schmitt and Glover were placed on leave -- due to an administrative delay that Olson says was unavoidable.

The human resources manual is said to be just one area in a broader study of policies at Pensacola City Hall. Administrator Eric Olson says it’s not unreasonable to expect there will be other changes made in a number of different areas.