Fire Alarmed

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The residents of Port Arthur should be alarmed. The city manager, Ron Burton, is now being called stupid for setting the city up for what will be a major whistleblower lawsuit. The town’s fire chief got fired after helping us expose fraud, and his latest attempts to issue a new public safety warning were also silenced. Wait until you see how…

“May I have your attention please. May I have your attention please? A fire has been reported in the building,” said an announcement over loudspeakers.

“Are you serious?” Asked Willie Lewis Jr., a Port Arthur councilman.

At the very moment the fire alarm went off at Tuesday city council meeting in Port Arthur, Willie Lewis Junior still had one more burning question to ask this guy, former Port Arthur Fire Chief, Greg Benson.

He was recently fired in a controversial move by City Manager, Ronald Burton.

“You think you’re getting paid back for exposing Acadian?” Wayne Dolcefino asked.

“Yeah. Yeah,” Greg Benson answered.

The chief was fired after helping us expose falsified response times of Acadian Ambulance.

“Can we talk to you before the meeting?” Dolcefino asked Ronald Burton.

“No,” Burton replied.

“How come? Mr. Burton, why won’t you talk to use about the firing?” Dolcefino asked.

Lewis thinks the firing was a mistake.

“How long you work for the city?” Lewis asked Benson.

 “I don’t know, two years, eight months or something like that. I don’t know,” Benson answered.

When this happened.

“Okay. My second question is—” Lewis said.

“Your attention please. May I have your attention please? A fire has been reported in the building,” said an announcement over the loudspeakers.

What a strange coincidence. Just as the fire chief who got fired is going to blow the whistle some more, the fire alarm goes off, the conversation is over, the room evacuated, the meeting ended. I’m not a conspiracy theorist, but you got to wonder.

“It just too close. That makes no sense,” Lewis said.

So, what was the question the councilman was getting ready to ask?

“My next question was, has he ever been evaluated? That’s what I wanted to get in. He has never been evaluated. He’s been there three years and never been evaluated,” Lewis said.

Benson was never evaluated before being fired, never got a public complaint. No disciplinary action.

In fact, the city manager was boasting about him just a few weeks before.

“We are able to achieve a lot in the city of Port Arthur because we have great staff, exceptional staff like Greg Benson,” Burton said.

Benson came to report ongoing safety problems in the fire department he’s now leaving.

“I just want to provide the council and the public with a little bit of overview of what I experienced here for health, safety, and performance levels,” Benson told Port Arthur City Council.

A fire department that the chief says has a ton of problems.

“I assessed and identified deficiencies in many different areas and they all needed improvement,” Benson said.

Including fire fighting equipment that Benson says doesn’t often work.

“A lot of fire apparatus weren’t working right. They’d get fixed, and many times, it was certain fire apparatus that had to be fixed like every two or three months,” Benson said.

The councilman says the city manager plain screwed up by firing Benson, but it’s Port Arthur taxpayers who will end up paying, if Benson files the big whistleblower lawsuit we think he will file.

The city’s insurance won’t likely cover a wrongful termination claim.

“When you get outside of it and go on your own and do something really stupid, then you can be held accountable on your individual capacity,” Lewis said.

Benson has already filed a grievance to try and get his job back, which could end up going before the city council for a vote.

Then, they will have to decide whether they back Benson or the city manager.

“That’s something, perhaps, for the city council to consider is, you know, holding him accountable. And there was a lot of documents that I provided to the city manager that had to do with the health, the life safety, the performance issues, but I never got any feedback or any direction on some of these things,” said Benson.

We can relate to being ignored.

Port Arthur City Secretary, Sherri Bellard, is breaking the law, failing to provide a lot of the records we asked for.

And, she’s done it time and time again.

“I’m with Dolcefino Media, can you please explain why you are withholding public records from us?” Brian Collister asked.

“No,” Bellard anwered.

Among the records the city is hiding are travel records for the Acting Fire Chief, Robert Havens.

Havens won’t talk to us about anything.

We got this email he sent in April: “I am not responding to this or any other email from Dolcefino or anyone from his company.”

It’s those kind of public officials you want to check out the most.

“Do you think it was stupid that the city manager fired the fire chief?” Collister asked.

“That was dumn. That was really dumb. He had never evaluated him,” Lewis answered.

“And then he exposed Acadian and he fired him,” said Collister.

“He got fired for exposing Acadian. That’s his problem. He got fired for exposing Acadian,” Lewis said.

“And that’s retaliation,” Collister said.

“You got it. That is retaliation,” said Lewis.

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