October 4, 2012 in Washington Voices

Fire department commissioner resigns, citing health

Nesbitt fell ill during hearing on vote compliance
By The Spokesman-Review
 
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Spokane Valley Fire Department commissioner Monte Nesbitt has announced his immediate resignation due to health issues.

Nesbitt had previously announced that he would resign his position on Dec. 31 after members of Local 876 of the International Association of Fire Fighters raised concerns that he was no longer living in the district. Fire commissioners are required by state law to live in the district they serve.

A hearing was held last week before Spokane County Auditor Vicky Dalton to determine the status of Nesbitt’s voter registration after the union filed a challenge, alleging that Nesbitt was not living at the Spokane Valley address he listed on his voter registration. Dalton ruled that Nesbitt was not living at the address and that his voter registration would be canceled. It was during that hearing that Nesbitt fell ill and was taken to the hospital, where he underwent tests for several days.

Nesbitt said he was diagnosed with stress-induced cardiomyopathy. “Initially they thought I had a blockage and I’d have to have a stent,” he said. “If I don’t watch this, it can turn into congestive heart failure.”

He wasn’t surprised at Dalton’s decision, Nesbitt said. “I knew that’s how it was going to go,” he said. “I wasn’t contesting it at all.”

Nesbitt said his wife will attend the next commissioner’s meeting and present a new letter of resignation. He said he has no initial plans other than tending to his health. “They told me if I want to be getter I need to stay out of that business,” he said. “I’ve got to concentrate on getting rid of this.”

Local 876 vice president Rich Bruce said the union is still looking into whether Nesbitt’s votes were valid after he moved out of the district. “We are still waiting for an opinion from our lawyer on that,” he said. “I think we will ask that question.”

Most fire commission votes are unanimous, but recently Nesbitt voted with the majority in a 3-2 decision to fire a firefighter for reasons that were not publicly disclosed. That vote is the primary reason the union wants to settle the question of whether Nesbitt’s recent votes are valid, Bruce said.

“I’m not saying have a challenge,” Bruce said. “We may very well end up dropping it. We’re not picking a fight just to be picking a fight, but to see that the right thing gets done.”

The commissioners have 90 days to appoint a replacement for Nesbitt. Chief Mike Thompson said he plans to discuss the procedure for filling the seat with the commissioners at their next meeting on Oct. 8.


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