Former legislator appeals fire dept. expulsion

Howard Shafer calls decision of Selkirk Fire unfair, seeks reinstatement

“The charges in the present case do not involve monetary loss, larceny, bribery or sabotage,” the appeal reads. “Indeed, as discussed above, the charges include facts as petty as the fact Mr. Shafer used capital letters in emails.”

In the appeal, Shafer alleges other members of the Selkirk Fire Department have engaged in “significant misconduct which went completely undisciplined.”

Shafer testified to an incident where strippers were brought into the firehouse, “resulting in a fight which had to be broken up by police,” a fireman drinking while driving and crashing a fire company vehicle into a pole and an incident where a fireman pulled someone over using their blue lights.

“None of these incidents warranted any formal discipline by Commissioner Joseph Keller, yet Mr. Shafer's alleged misconduct warrants expulsion. That fact demonstrates that Mr. Shafer was treated unfairly and unequally,” reads the appeal.

The evidence of these alleged incidents offered up in the appeal is Shafer’s own testimony at the September disciplinary hearing.

Shafer slipped on black ice at the station in January of 2011 and injured his shoulder. A worker’s compensation claim stated the injury would require surgery, but Shafer acquired a doctor’s note clearing him for active duty. The matter apparently resulted in disagreement between Shafer and Therrien that went on chiefly through emails.

Therrien described Shafer’s emails as “harassment” at the hearing. Shafer responded he was merely “passionate about the issue of safety and the department’s policy on injuries.”

Shafer’s appeal argues the hearing conclusions are not supported by substantial evidence and Therrien’s testimony is not enough to result in expulsion.

Shafer is seeking to be reinstated within company and to the position of treasurer. He is also asking the Board of Fire Commissioners declare it “abused its discretion and acted in an arbitrary and capricious manner” when expelling him.

John Ciavardoni, an attorney for the Board of Fire Commissioners, said “the board doesn’t comment on personnel matters or pending litigation.”

Howard Shafer could not re reached for comment.

The matter is to be heard in an Albany County court on March 16.

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