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Fire Chief Whistleblower

Tacoma, WA: (Mar-02-08) Chris Jensen, DuPont's fire chief for more than three years, brought charges against the city over issues pertaining to his resignation and severance package. The suit stated that Jensen resigned in the wake of a whistleblower complaint he filed Jan. 25, 2008 alleging Mayor Tamara Jenkins has a conflict of interest. Jensen alleged that Jenkins had a conflict of interest because she used her influence to promote a merger or contract agreement with the Lakewood Fire District. Jenkins' husband is a DuPont firefighter and the couple stands to benefit from his salary increase of $13,000 if a contract or merger occurs.

Records show that he was placed on paid administrative leave a week later. At the time, City Administrator Bill McDonald said Jensen was on leave because he wouldn't consent to a physical and mental examination after returning from more than a week of sick leave. Court records show no evidence of a mental or physical exam. It does mention the fire chief's whistleblower complaint and his claims of harassment after he filed it. The city however, denied those allegations. Jensen's lawyers argued that when Jensen was placed on leave, it seemed to be in response to the whistleblower complaint.

As part of a settlement reached in the whistleblower retaliation lawsuit, the city agreed to pay the 40-year-old chief $72,000 to resolve litigation. According to the separation agreement, Jensen will receive $42,000 in severance pay, unused vacation and six months of health insurance. He will get $30,000 in damages for waiving all claims against the city. The city's insurance carrier will pay the damages. [THE NEWS TRIBUNE: FIRE CHIEF WHISTLEBLOWER]

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Published on Mar-4-08


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