County Legislature candidate under fire

Howard Shafer facing disciplinary charges at Selkirk Fire Department

— A former Albany County legislator who hopes to recapture his office this November was the subject of a Selkirk Fire Department disciplinary hearing tonight that could lead to his ouster as a company treasurer and volunteer firefighter.

Howard Shafer, of Selkirk, answered charges of insubordination, violation of the department’s code of conduct and going outside the chain of command before the department's Board of Commissioners and a hearing officer.

Shafer stands accused by Selkirk Fire Department Co. 1 Chief Josh Therrien of refusing to follow the orders of superiors and of failing to turn over department equipment and records after he was taken off of active duty because of an injury. He’s on suspension pending the outcome of the disciplinary process.

Shafer, an 11-year veteran with the department, contends most of the charges are false and those that do hold true are minor and don’t warrant expulsion. He said he’s at odds with Therrien and the chief simply wants him gone.

“One’s a round hole and the other a square peg,” he said of their working relationship.

In testimony before Hearing Officer John Ciavardoni, Therrien said Shafer started his 2011 inaugural term as treasurer in good form and even identified several past bad practices in the company’s accounting. But when given specific instructions later, such as to place the names of the president and chief of the company on bank accounts, he diverted.

“Mr. Shafer kind of started working off on his own and doing what he wanted,” Therrien said.

During the hearing, Shafer admitted he does not take well to superiors looking over his shoulder but would “bite his tongue” if brought back into the job.

Also at issue is a January injury Shafer sustained to his shoulder slipping on black ice at the fire station. In a worker’s compensation claim it was stated the injury required surgery, but Shafer acquired a doctor’s note clearing him for active duty. Therrien said the Board of Commissioners must clear such an issue. Shafer is a fire policeman, generally meaning he would direct traffic around calls the department responds to.

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