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Curmudgeon's Corner

cur-mud-geon: anyone who hates hypocrisy and pretense and has the temerity to say so; anyone with the habit of pointing out unpleasant facts in an engaging and humorous manner

Germantown Fire Department Ablaze?

Germantown, Village Board

Tom Kertscher writes this morning in the Journal Sentinel about an ongoing investigation in the Germantown Fire Department.  This apparently involves Chief Gary Pollpeter, whose name we've become familiar with in past controversies.  It also appears to involve significant overtime pay for one part-time firefighter, Matt Karpinski, who worked 39 regular and 15 overtime hours per week in 2006.  He has already worked 818 overtime hours through November 8th of this year, which is more than his total overtime for all of 2006.

This seems to be about Chief Pollpeter finding a way to increase his full-time firefighter staff even though those requests have been refused by the village trustees.  Trustee Jim Langer stated that the overtime was an issue but further stated, "There's a big management issue there."  Pollpeter's raise has been held up by the trustees.

Pollpeter has been at odds with the trustees for some time.  He requested a referendum be placed before the voters that, had it been approved, would've authorized a more than double-sized fire department at a cost of $1,350,000 per year.  That referendum request was denied by the trustees.

The village Police and Fire Commission has been investigating an unknown number of Germantown firefighters and recently held a five-hour closed door meeting on "possible disciplinary action".  Another such meeting is scheduled for this coming Wednesday.

It seems upon reflection that our fire department has been involved in various disputes for years.  As far back as 1997, Pollpeter was ordered to attend management training classes because of complaints about how the department was being run.  The village trustees have been turned over during that time, so you'd think that any personal disputes would've been taken out of the equation if they were seated at the village board level.

Germantown citizens deserve to know exactly what the issues are, and that isn't possible when everything is done behind closed doors.  Few people are speaking but it is apparent that there is a big power struggle going on.  It seems apparent that this power struggle has been festering for some time.  It seems, as well, that the chief is deeply involved, and that members of the department are involved as well.

The Village of Germantown took over the private Germantown Fire Company in 1989.  That meant that the village was the ultimate power in all matters concerning the fire department.  Is it time for a thorough house cleaning in the department?  Is that what is going on behind closed doors?

If you're involved and wish to use this forum, comments are welcomed.  Maybe we can shed the light of day on the "issues".

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