City Government

Mayor vs Fire Chief Battle Heats Up

The flare up over the dismissal, retirement, paid leave, firing of Dennis Doan as Boise fire chief has shifted to the city council.

Based on e-mails from the city to Doan, it looks like newly elected mayor Lauren McLean will leave the dirty work to the City Council when it comes to firing Doan.

City Code 1-7-2D requires “half plus one” council votes to dismiss a department head. With a complete forum of six councilors, this would mean four votes to dismiss. In the event of a 3-3 tie, the mayor would be the tie breaker. They can wait until next Tuesday’s meeting or with 24 hours notice hold a special meeting with the single item on the agenda.

Here is the applicable code section:

D. Removal: Any appointive officer may be removed by the Mayor for any cause deemed sufficient, but such removal shall be by and with the affirmative vote of one-half (1/2) plus one of the members of the full Council; provided, that the Council, by the unanimous vote of all of its members, may upon their own initiative remove any appointive officer.

Doan was a major financial and political supporter of former Mayor Dave Bieter. The GUARDIAN opines that Mayor McLean should have simply asked for Doan’s resignation when she took office. We also think Doan could preserve his dignity by immediately resigning “for the benefit of the citizens of Boise.”

In a similarly awkward situation, Bieter has refused to leave the CCDC urban renewal agency to which he appointed himself. McLean has now appointed herself in a move to blunt Bieter’s influence on the CCDC board. The CCDC agency is an “independent body, corporate and politic.” In plain english that means the body is created by the city, but not beholding to the city.

Comments & Discussion

25 comments for “Mayor vs Fire Chief Battle Heats Up”

  1. I must say it appears that the new mayor has a lot of spite for Doan. Apparently she wants to fire him instead of allowing him to resign. I hope the mayor is able to set her emotions aside and handle issues more diplomatically in the future.

  2. “The GUARDIAN opines that Mayor McLean should have simply asked for Doan’s resignation when she took office.”

    We don’t know that she didn’t. We also don’t know what conversations took place between the two before the administrative leave.

    EDITOR NOTE–When we checked with Doan a month into her term, she had not requested he leave.

  3. But what about the past few days….

  4. Old White Guy
    Mar 4, 2020, 10:12 pm

    A press conference because he quit or got canned? Really? Sorry, but this is not press conference level of important to anyone but him. Further it was a surprise to nobody.

    On the other hand I sure hope everyone watched the Governor’s press conference on covid-19.

  5. According to Chief Doan he was not put on administrative leave for illegal conduct or policy violations, He offered to retire in May. Not fast enough for the Mayor. It appears this is clearly an issue between the Mayor and the Chief. I understand that the Mayor wants him gone. It is her prerogative. However, I wonder if the members of the city council will feel they are still independent elected officials if they are forced to take the Mayors position on when he leaves office.

  6. He could have resigned at any time, including now before a vote takes place.

    City Council can call a special meeting with just 24-hours public notice or they may wait until next Tuesday.

  7. Do I see a lawsuit coming? The other thing that is going to be interesting is several council members supported Beiter in the election. What is McLean going to do about that?

    EDITOR NOTE–BINGO! Based on the city ordinance, I would say there is the POTENTIAL of Doan actually keeping his job. There are many unknowns among the new council.

  8. Any council member who received Fireman campaign funds should recuse themselves from this vote.

  9. what a fire nozzle!

    If Doan had any style, #1 he would not have supported either candidate in the elections.

    If impossible to refrain, then he should have, the day after the runoff, delivered a letter of resignation with a timeline for a change of the guard (not 6 months).

    And now in typical UNION-BABY antics, he wants to resist. Major loser and thumbs down for Doan.

    Smeg, the councilors SHOULD vote to DEPOSE Chief Doan. Not because that matches the Mayor’s objective but because that is the RIGHT thing to do- it is past due. New team.

    Insert meme here: “DEPOSE DOAN”

  10. Good point Porcupine. What will the mayor do if the City Council fails to remove him from office? Will she reinstate her rescinded severance package and move it to an effective date of May? That would be a disaster for her. This is better than daytime TV.

  11. I voted for Mayor Mclean, but this is not leadership. I do not know Chief Doan but 30 years of service speaks high of him. The mayor has the right to replace the chief, but there is a correct way to do it. It seems the chief’s only “crime” is that he supported the former mayor. At best this is petty. I feel like I wasted my vote.

  12. Chickenhawk
    Mar 5, 2020, 9:12 am

    McLean is trying to make a name for herself. This move just radiates with “either you are with me or you are with the evildoers (Team Dave).” This rhetoric has stunk political offices since the Patriot Act.

  13. Kent Goldthorpe
    Mar 5, 2020, 9:14 am

    Who has the popcorn concession?

  14. Tequila Mockingbird
    Mar 5, 2020, 10:10 am

    Let’s not forget that the previous fire chief was forced out by Mayor Bieter to make the spot for his friend Doan. That guy was smarter though. He could read the handwriting on the wall, knew his time was over, and left quietly.
    If Doan was half the leader he tells everyone he is, he would realize that all this turmoil is bad for the fire department. It’s a disruption, it’s distracting, and it’s bad for morale.
    In retirement, he’ll be making more than 90% of Idahoans who still have to get up and go to work every day. He should have said “thank you” and slipped out the door.
    I think it was Dr. Suess who said “Don’t cry because it’s over. Smile because it happened.”

  15. My Two Cents
    Mar 5, 2020, 10:19 am

    Just curious if his pension is at risk here. I mean he served for almost 30 years. Is McLean’s move just public maneuvering to show her power, or will it affect Doan’s bottom line and retirement? If the latter is true, regardless of personal opinion on the recent events, the Council hopefully will let him retire properly and without harm. And by the way, taking this type of retaliative action against someone cause of their support for your opponent (Bieter) makes me rethink my support for McLean honestly. These politicians are all the same…

  16. I for one think there may be issues beyond Doan doing politicking for Bieter. Several times Doan represented to City Council that new developments somehow met the city standards and response times for Fire, when in fact they did not – as opposing public testimony at those meetings laid out. Go back and listen to the Northwest Neighborhood Prominence development hearings and several other recent hearings on the archived City Council session site. Doan tried to cobble together a series of excuses for why the city had failed for many years to provide stations to serve the city’s increasing sprawl.

  17. Dave Kangas
    Mar 5, 2020, 11:15 am

    Oh boy the waters gets murkier and murkier with each “what if”. Here’s my take, something was said or done in between the separation agreement offer and Doan’s counter proposal. What ever was said or done happened behind the scenes and it got back to McLean, there by triggering the revocation of that offer…. Something happened and it quicky went south for Doan.

  18. Doan is behaving like a politician, not an appointed public servant who serves at the mayor’s discretion. Read the HR letter that Doan chose to release—https://twitter.com/FireChiefDoan/status/1235277952532672513/photo/1

    It is clear that Doan had options, including offering his resignation. It’s unclear exactly what he was holding out for. But at his salary level, his PERSI benefit should be quite sufficient. A three-month payout on administrative leave at taxpayer expense does seem a bit greedy. Now it’s in the council’s hands.

  19. Boise City just gave the required 24-hour notice for a Special Meeting to be held on Friday at City Hall, 12:30pm.

  20. I suspect their are issues that the city council cannot ignore and that the vote will be for him to be released. He didn’t quite have enough time in for that cushy full retirement. He will still have retirement, once he puts in more years, but without the cushion he was offered to thank him for his service. I don’t think he thought it through, and maybe he is getting bad advice.

  21. He’s 51, with 29 years. His PERSI ‘rule of 80’ must hit in May. Maybe that’s why he’s holding on so tight.

  22. I am sure The Wolf is correct about the PERSI timing. Sad the mayor is so petty that she won’t grant a 30 year employee the opportunity to cross the finish line because of politics. If he was guilty of a crime that would be different. I guess we are seeing her true character.

  23. For those of you who support Doan: why? Because you voted for Bieter? Because his vocation was to provide fire protection for us? I’m good at my job, but that doesn’t make me a good person. Doan has serious character flaws. I would implore people who are blindly supporting this man to dig deeper. His self-serving actions and unwillingness to cooperate with a (female) superior is just a sliver of the kind of person he is.

  24. Regarding PERSI, Doan doesn’t have to hit the rule of 80. He’s over 50, so he can take an early retirement. Though considering the number of points he has anyway, there would be little difference either way. He will be sitting very nicely, financially, with a handsome and reliable deposit from PERSI at the first of every month for the rest of his life.

  25. what a cryin' shame
    Mar 6, 2020, 7:14 pm

    Let us find to define by statute “cause deemed sufficient”.

    Also, sung to the Beatles song,
    ‘Don’t Let Me Down”, former mayor might be singing, “Doan let me down; repeat; repeat; repeat.

    The former chief will live on with continued success. Fire chief exited fire.

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