The State Worker

Longtime Cal Fire executive to lead department’s personnel cleanup

Cal Fire director urges good behavior to avoid a 'bad article'

With his department still recovering from scandal, Cal Fire Director Ken Pimlott recently recorded a video urging his employees to make it "a leader in fire protection emergency response and resource management for California.”
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With his department still recovering from scandal, Cal Fire Director Ken Pimlott recently recorded a video urging his employees to make it "a leader in fire protection emergency response and resource management for California.”

Cal Fire is turning to a longtime executive from its communications and business staff to lead a professional standards outfit that Gov. Jerry Brown proposed after a series of personnel scandals embarrassed the agency.

Monte Manson, chief of business services at the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, will move into his new position on Monday.

He’ll lead a professional standards program that will be charged with training employees on appropriate conduct, updating personnel policies, investigating high-profile misconduct and carrying out background checks, according to a Sept. 2 memo from Cal Fire Chief Ken Pimlott.

Thirteen employees are expected to report to him when the program reaches its full staff.

“Throughout his career with Cal Fire, Monte has gained invaluable experience, and he brings to this position a strong and extensive administrative background. His ability to develop and cultivate relationships with internal and external stakeholders, and his skills in training and policy development will serve him well as he develops this new program,” Pimlott wrote in announcing Manson’s promotion.

Manson joined Cal Fire in 1995 in the department’s communications office. He also worked in its budget, occupational safety and administrative offices. He was promoted to chief of business services in 2013 after spending five years as the department’s procurement officer.

The state budget included a $4 million boost for Cal Fire to launch the program. Brown called for its creation in the wake of revelations that followed a Cal Fire battalion chief’s murder of his mistress in the Elk Grove house they shared. Orville “Moe” Fleming is serving 16 years to life for second-degree murder.

Subsequent allegations of sexual misconduct at the academy prompted Pimlott to commission a California Highway Patrol probe that led to resignations, dismissals or demotions of 16 employees.

Sacramento Bee investigations last year also revealed that Cal Fire employees cheated to win promotions, drank on state time, used state property for personal business, and stored and shared inappropriate pictures and sex links on their state phones.

Cal Fire Academy test writer Shannon Browne told CHP investigators in 2014 that instructors had thrown out results for questions some cadets couldn’t answer.

Adam Ashton: 916-321-1063, @Adam_Ashton

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