Huckleberries Online

FRIDAY, AUG. 23, 2013, 3:25 P.M.

Jerome officials mum on fire chief termination

Faced with a simple inquiry on an employee's status, Jerome officials declined to answer questions that Idaho law requires them to.

Last night, I noticed a local news organization reporting that the city of Jerome fired its fire chief, Jack Krill. The story didn't cite a source for its information, so I called the city to find out whether it was true.

Krill raised eyebrows in May when the city's fire department sent a $96,700 bill to a private citizen to cover the expense of fighting a fire in a downtown building. The bill was immediately retracted and the mayor said no one would be fired for the event.

Last night, I called city spokeswoman Zoe Monahan and left her a message asking her to confirm whether Krill was still an employee at the city.Then I called Mayor John Shine, who answered on the first ring.I asked him the same question: Is Fire Chief Jack Krill still employed at the city of Jerome?

He said he couldn't comment because it was a personnel matter.

I changed my question: I'm not asking -- if he was fired -- why he was let go. I'm asking whether Krill still works for the city and whether he is still receiving taxpayer money for his salary.

Again Shine declined to comment, saying it was a personnel matter.

By that time I had voice mail from Monahan saying she couldn't talk about Krill because it was a personnel matter.

"Personnel matter" is a common reason officials refuse to talk to reporters or the public about delicate situations. But here's what Idaho Code Section 9-340C(1) actually does: "requires disclosure of a current or former employee's or public official's 'employment history, classification, pay grade and step, longevity, gross salary and salary history, status, workplace and employing agency.'" (italics included in the code)  More here. Kimberlee Kruesi, Times-News

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Cindy Hval
Cindy Hval is a freelance columnist for the Voices neighborhood sections. Her Front Porch column appears twice a month in the Thursday Voice.