Steve Meiche, an Encinitas resident and L.A.-based firefighter-paramedic, is sounding alarms on what he sees as rampant corruption and misconduct within the Encinitas Fire Department.
Meiche contends that firefighters in the department have failed to respond to emergency calls, been late getting to calls, have neglected to restock ambulances with emergency medical supplies, and have been observed acting in an unprofessional and inappropriate manner.
Meiche accuses Fire Chief Mark Muir of mismanagement and criticizes city manager Phil Cotton for not disclosing the incidents of misconduct, or the disciplinary actions taken, to the public.
"The City of Encinitas does not regularly report to the public information on disciplinary action," wrote Meiche in a March 29 email. "Unlike other cities, Encinitas has refused to release any information related to disciplinary, corrective action or investigations of misconduct."
Following up on his allegations in an April 14 email, Meiche described a discussion that he had with Michael Goralski, president of the Encinitas Firefighters Association.
"[Goralski] confirmed that all of the accusations were true and clarified a few of the exact details. He stated, ‘Yes, those incidents did, in fact, happen.’ In additional dialogue, he made it clear that corrective action was taken."
And while Meiche says he received confirmation of wrongdoing in the City's fire department, his request that the City release the disciplinary actions taken is not likely to be granted.
"Disciplinary actions are not made available to the public," wrote Tom Beckford, director of human resources for the City of Encinitas, during a previous interview. "There is a specific provision of the California Public Records Act that makes an exemption for personnel, medical and similar files, the disclosure of which would constitute an unwarranted invasion of personal privacy."
Beckford says that Meiche's claims that other municipalities release investigations of city employees are likely not accurate. "My impression is that there is general consensus about the applicability of the California Public Records Act exemptions to disciplinary investigations and disciplinary actions."