Waukesha fire chief suspended over harassment charges
Annie Scholz and Jaclyn Brandt
Photo: Video by tmj4.com
WAUKESHA - The Waukesha Fire Chief has been suspended amid allegations he harassed a female worker. The Chief says he didn't do anything wrong.
Waukesha Fire Chief Jesse Alba was in the hot seat before the Fire and Police Commission, facing allegations that he harassed an employee and forced her to resign after he fell in love with her.
An independent investigation revealed when Alba was Assistant Chief he allegedly told the woman "he loved her"..."he could smell her perfume" even when she wasn't there...that "she would need to resign"...and if she didn't, "he would make her leave".
It caused enough concern for the commission that they suspended him until a full hearing next month. Alba wouldn't talk to reporters, but his attorney made it clear he doesn't think he did anything wrong. In fact, they now claim the married Chief and the married employee had a consensual sexual relationship.
"There's been no violation of city rules that would warrant what they are seeking," explains Victor Plantinga, Alba's attorney.
But calls for Alba's resignation go as high as the Mayor's office.
"We are very saddened to be in this situation," says Mayor Jeff Scrima. "We trust our Fire and Police Commission and the due process to come out with the correct outcome."
The City Administrator backs that, saying the people of Waukesha deserve a fire department focused on nothing more than keeping them safe.
"They are stressed. Brand new fire chief, they were looking forward to working with him as their leader," says City Adminstrator Ed Henschel. "Now they're calling into question his ability to lead and it is creating difficulties."
The full hearing will take place three weeks from now. It's very much like a court hearing with witnesses and evidence, though the Chief does not face criminal charges.