Archive for Thursday, September 2, 2004

Fire chief under fire

Council to decide fate of chief facing charges

September 2, 2004

Eudora's fire department is under the direction of Deputy Chief Mike Underwood until the Eudora City Council makes a decision about the fate of Chief Spencer McCabe.
Olathe police officers arrested McCabe early Sunday morning at an Olathe hotel where police reports allege he caused more than $1,000 in damage to a bathroom. McCabe has a scheduled hearing Sept. 9.
Terri Issa, executive assistant at the Johnson County District Attorney's Office, said with no prior criminal history defendants had a possibility of diversion. Otherwise, sentences could vary between five and seven months, Issa said. She said the court could also assess fines.
Records published Wednesday showed McCabe had completed court diversions for misdemeanor battery in 1995 and speeding, driving left of center and drunken driving in 1993.
Eudora City Administrator Mike Yanez said McCabe was suspended with pay pending the city's investigation of the incident. The suspension was an administrative decision, Yanez said, but any final decision would have to be made by the City Council, which meets Sept. 13.
In the meantime, Yanez said Underwood was in charge and that the department, including its four captains, had an organizational meeting.
"They have a grasp on it, and I feel confident the city is adequately covered," Yanez said. "We want people to feel assured and confident that with the deputy fire chief and other volunteers we have adequate fire protection."
When a city employee was arrested for violation of law, Yanez said the city's policy was that the employee was to report to a supervisor. From there, Yanez said it was up to the City Council to take disciplinary action.
"He got in trouble and arrested, and now we're dealing with the fallout," Yanez said.
Mayor Ron Conner, who had been out of town, said Wednesday morning he planned to meet with Yanez that afternoon to get up to speed on the issue. Conner said he thought the administrator had done a good job of dealing with the issue.
"It's been handled the way it should be handled," the mayor said.
As for the upcoming Council meeting, Conner said it wasn't yet certain whether those attending would want to make comment and how it would be handled, or whether Council members would comment publicly. As a personnel issue involving an appointed position, the Council can discuss the issue in private.
"We'll have to wait and see what next week brings," Conner said. "It will depend on how things play out."

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