Former Waukesha fire chief appealing Police and Fire Commission's decision

Todd Ponath
Former Waukesha Fire Chief Jesse Alba, who was demoted to the rank of firefighter by the Police and Fire Commission, is appealing its ruling. He says there wasn't 'just cause' in the demotion.
Published on: 10/28/2013

Jesse Alba isn’t giving up.

Alba, the former Waukesha fire chief who was recently demoted to the rank of firefighter by the Police and Fire Commission for violating city and department rules, is appealing its decision.

According to his appeal filed Oct. 23, Alba, through his attorney, Victor E. Plantinga, is challenging whether there was “just cause” for his demotion.

As a result of the appeal, the PFC will forward the materials from the hearing (court reporter transcripts, briefs and exhibits) to the Waukesha County Circuit Court.

Plantinga said the state statute says the Circuit Court must give this matter priority and schedule a trial within 15 days.

There won’t be live testimony, said Plantinga, who expects the judge to set a briefing schedule at which time there will be oral argument in open court.

While he waits for the Circuit Court’s decision, Alba has taken the firefighter position.

The appeal comes after months of investigation and disciplinary hearings regarding Alba asking a former part-time emergency medical services educator to resign as a solution to the difficulties the two were having in getting over the affair they had last year.

After hearing testimony from Alba and witnesses, including the outside investigator who conducted the investigation earlier this summer after a matter of report was filed to the city’s Human Resources Department, the PFC filed its facts and determinations Oct. 14.

In the city’s statement of charges, it accused Alba of violating its anti-harassment policy, among other department rules.

However, the PFC concluded Alba did not violate the anti-harassment policy, but noted Alba, who was named chief earlier this spring, was unfit to hold a supervisory role.

Alba was put on paid administrative leave Aug. 21 while the disciplinary hearings before the PFC took place. The investigation, which spanned almost five months, cost the city almost $70,000.

Meanwhile, the PFC is attempting to move on with an interim fire chief.

The four-member citizen body will meet for the first time since the final hearing a few weeks ago to name an interim fire chief today.

Steve Howard, the city’s assistant fire chief, held the position for about a year from the time former fire chief Allen LaConte retired and when Alba was named chief in April.

The PFC’s meeting is scheduled for 5 p.m. at the Waukesha Fire Department’s Station 1, 130 W. St. Paul Ave.