Judge: Tansey will remain out as Wakeman fire chief

Cary Ashby • Nov 10, 2012 at 6:55 AM

Jim Tansey Jr. will remain out as the chief of the Wakeman Fire District and isn't allowed to have his job back.

Huron County Common Pleas Judge Jim Conway recently made those two rulings in the civil case between the board and Tansey. The board ousted Tansey in early April after a lengthy meeting, which included an executive session that lasted roughly 30 to 40 minutes.

Conway said there was enough evidence for the board to terminate Tansey and he wasn't entitled to return to the job.

Board members, in April, cited Tansey's "failure to act," neglecting his duty, weaknesses in doing administrative duties, leadership weaknesses as well as "gross neglect of duty."

Most recently, the board listed three reasons in court documents for Tansey's removal: Failing to open mail in a timely fashion, failing to file monthly reports to the state fire marshal's office and lack of leadership.

Huron County Assistant Prosecutor Daivia Kasper provided some specifics about the evidence against Tansey. The prosecutor's office was the legal adviser for the board during Tiffin Fire Chief Bill Ennis' special investigation.

Kasper said board members found unopened pieces of mail in the fire department that were postmarked April 2011. The board started investigating Tansey in September 2011 and later hired Ennis as a special investigator.

About filing the monthly reports to the state, Kasper said Tansey couldn't file them because the computer system wasn't working -- an issue everyone associated with the fire department and board apparently knew -- but Tansey didn't bring it to the attention of the board.

"He was approximately four months behind," Kasper said about the reports.

Finally, Kasper said there was "friction" between Tansey, the firefighters and board on various fire department issues.

"It did not appear that relationship was going to be any smoother," Kasper said.

Tansey's attorney, Brian Dattilo, in April said he was extremely disappointed and frustrated with the board's decision to remove the former chief. Dattilo said it was obvious there were some administrative problems, but the board should have brought them to Tansey's attention sooner, given him a time frame -- such as 90 days -- to correct the issues and then suspend Tansey if he didn't do so.

"We believe this was not a thorough investigation," Dattilo said.

Tansey served the Wakeman Fire District for about 30 years. He was appointed chief about 2006.

Capt. David Wilson is the acting chief. The time frame for finding a permanent chief is unknown.

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