Cal Fire Director Ken Pimlott, Communications Director Janet Upton and Tuolumne-Calaveras Unit Chief Josh White visited The Union Democrat on Tuesday to talk with Editor Lyn Riddle and Opinion Page Editor Craig Cassidy about a pair of editorials calling for White’s resignation which they felt were unfair.
Undergirding the pieces was a Plumas County Superior Court judge’s 2014 order in which White, other Cal Fire employees, and lawyers with the state Attorney General’s Office were accused lying and obstruction in an effort to frame Sierra Pacific Industries and its contractor for the 2007 Moonlight Fire. The two-part order signed by Judge Leslie C. Nichols also awarded SPI $32 million in attorneys fees.
Pimlott and Upton said they were unable to discuss the matter in detail, because it is being appealed.
We invited White and/or Cal Fire to outline their positions in an editorial for this Saturday’s paper.
Tuesday’s discussion later turned to a controversial, now-frozen Cal Fire Wildland Fire Investigation Training and Equipment Fund — WiFiter, described by critics as an of-the-books “slush fund” — and troubles last year at the Ione Fire Academy — where 16 employees were fired or disciplined for a variety of alleged infractions including drinking on duty, misusing a state-owned truck and cell phone, and cheating on promotional exams. Within weeks, two of the demoted firefighters were re-promoted. Two others appealed their demotions and won a settlement under which their demotions last only two years.