That was the Stockton Fire Department under Chief Ron Hittle.
The law clearly says counties pick emergency service providers. The Fire Department launched a lawsuit anyway, a multimillion-dollar waste that dragged on for years.
I talked to an old-school Battalion Chief the other day. He was still complaining, still unable to accept that Fire didn’t get its way. As if the law didn’t have any bearing on the issue.
The city fired Hittle in 2011, wanting to change the department’s culture — not of excellent firefighting, for which it deserves credit — but of the growing mentality that only Fire knew the right answer … which somehow always involved a bigger paycheck. Considering Hittle was president of the firefighter union before he became chief, that’s not surprising.
Now Hittle is suing the city for wrongful termination. he alleges religious bias. That goes back to a column I did revealing he and his coalition attended a leadership conference that was primarily religious in nature.
The irony of Hittle’s suit is that he was accused of religious bias. Department rank and file muttered about a “Christian Coalition” of Hittle’s co-religionists, all of whom attended the same northside Baptist church. The perception was that they got the best promotions and assignments.
I’ve seen sketchy wrongful termination lawsuits before, but this one is preposterous.