The Journal Gazette
Friday, January 15, 2021 1:00 am

Petition to dismiss firefighter dies at panel

JAMIE DUFFY | The Journal Gazette

A petition to fire a veteran Fort Wayne firefighter died for lack of a second motion to take a vote. 

Sharon Peters, mayoral appointment on the Fort Wayne Fire Merit Commission, introduced the petition Tuesday put forward by Fire Chief Eric Lahey to terminate Marcus Ridley for undisclosed violations.

He was suspended in March because of a drunken driving charge, but apparently other violations came to light that sparked the petition.

If the petition fails, Ridley will be due for reinstatement in March, a year after he was charged with drunken driving. After he was charged, he was immediately suspended without pay, but in April the five-member Merit Commission voted to return him to paid status.

At the Tuesday meeting, none of the other commission members – Dennis Maxwell, Reginald Blackmon and Michael Barranda – seconded the motion, according to minutes of the meeting requested by The Journal Gazette. 

Commission President Tony Ridley had recused himself per new conflict-of-interest commission rules because he is related to Marcus Ridley. 

The next meeting is scheduled for Thursday. However, as noted in the meeting minutes, Jeremy Bush, FWFD Local 124 president, asked the commission to consider allowing Ridley to retire as of Jan. 17 “due to pending ratification of the collective bargaining agreement.” 

The union is voting this week to ratify a new contract, approved Monday by the City Council. The contract allows for a 9% raise that includes a 6% employee pension contribution that had been paid by the city, according to fire officials. 

If Ridley does not retire, the commission has scheduled a meeting Thursday to address the petition, the minutes said.

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