The State Worker

What Cal Fire’s director has said about Ione academy scandal

Cal Fire Director Ken Pimlott speaks at a 2011 press conference.
Cal Fire Director Ken Pimlott speaks at a 2011 press conference.

This week’s State Worker column touches on differences between how California Highway Patrol Commissioner Joe Farrow and Cal Fire Director Ken Pimlott have handled crises in the last year.

Pimlott has confronted a drip-dip-dip of bad news tied to alleged employee misbehavior at Cal Fire’s Ione academy that started with a former battalion chief’s arrest for murder last May. He has not made himself available for interviews, but Pimlott’s staff did pass along a March 12 email to department employees. It contains the prepared remarks he made on March 4 to the Legislature.

The statement to lawmakers includes this sentence: “Unfortunately, with the recent media releases which included the names of witnesses, there is a fear by these witnesses of retaliation, not only by those involved, but by members of their own community.”

To be clear, one witness’s identity did appear in the Cal Fire documents that have otherwise been redacted to remove names of witnesses and victims. The Bee did not report that person’s name.

The Bee’s stories have included the names of employees who were terminated or otherwise disciplined for alleged misbehavior that ranged from on-the-job drinking and sexually harassing women to cheating on promotional interviews and sharing pornography in the workplace and other misdeeds.

Call Jon Ortiz, Bee Capitol Bureau, (916) 321-1043.