Commissioners debate hiring a new Fort Myers Beach fire chief
FORT MYERS BEACH, Fla. - Fort Myers Beach fire commissioners debate whether or not they even need to hire a new fire chief.
"Do we really need to replace the fire chief? Could we work as we are now?" Fire Commissioner Dave Brower says.
Board chairman Dave Brower says acting chief Darren White can do the job, but fellow board members question whether that was a good idea.
"We've got terrible morale in the department," Fire Commissioner Theodore Schindler says.
Schindler says it may be better to bring someone in from the outside. Brower also commented on recent allegations made against chief Mike Becker.
Last week, Becker resigned just days after a woman sent commissioners a packet of information accusing Becker of maintaining a nine month long relationship with her getting her pregnant and lying to her about being married to his wife.
The accuser says Becker used the districts equipment including his work phone and his email account to communicate with her during work hours.
But Brower says the district only subsidizes administrators cell phones.
"It's their own cell phone, so however much time they use on the cell phone, they are only going to get $50 from the district and it's their own personal cell phone." Brower says.
But the accuser also claims Becker wasted tax payer money by seeing her while on-duty.
In a letter to commissioners, she claims:
On New Years Eve, Chief Becker took me to his office…fully disrobed and engaged in activity in a sexual nature. When he finished, he realized crews had been trying to contact him. He laughed about being unavailable…giddy from once again breaking the rules.
The Vice President of the Firefighters Union, Troy Mesick, feels commissioners could investigate Becker.
"If they do an investigation and they find wrongdoing, they can relieve him of his duties and also from the district with just cause. Then all of his benefits would stop at that time and he wouldn't be receiving the 90 days of payment of his salary, insurance and everything else." Mesick says.
Becker's last day is June 19th. Commissioners voted to relieve him of his duties, but he will still be paid. Since Becker makes $130,000 a year, he will make about $35,000 and won't be reporting to work.