Herald Fire controvery sparks lawsuit [Lodi News-Sentinel, Calif.]
(Lodi News-Sentinel (CA) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) Oct. 02--Herald resident Laura Keister has filed a civil lawsuit regarding the removal of formal Herald Fire Protection District board member Lance Newhall and using public money to do so. Although he was reinstated, Keister would like the court to determine the board's original action was illegal and unauthorized.
A summons was issued to elected board of directors Stephen Stigelmayer, Dennis Johnson and Kevin Austin on Sept. 17, according to Sacramento County on-line court documents. The Fire Protection District was also named.
None of the defendants could be reached Wednesday.
The lawsuit stems from what has been determined as illegal removal from the board of Newhall after he reportedly publicly made comments regarding the job performance a Fire Protection District employee.
The May action was permitted under a little known board policy adopted in 2011 that allowed a board member to be censured.
However, after public outcry for removing an elected official with a vote and an admonition from County Supervisor Don Nottoli that the action was illegal, the board reinstated Newhall in June with a 3-1 vote. Stigelmayer cast the dissenting vote, and fellow board member Dell Primasing was absent. He was not named in Keister's lawsuit.
"The board has voted to reverse this illegal action, but the interested person have no assurance the defendants' actions won't be repeated in the future," the lawsuit reads.
Keister, who is representing herself, is seeking monetary damages in the name of Sacramento County taxpayers.
She believes Stigelmayer "and other board members" used approximately $3,000 in Fire Protection District funds to pay for legal advise to remove Newhall, according to the suit.
The expenditure was allegedly made without board approval.
A court date has not yet been scheduled.
Newhall was re-elected last November with 29.8 percent of the vote, a higher share than any other candidate on the ballot. Johnson and Austin were also elected at that time.
(c)2013 the Lodi News-Sentinel (Lodi, Calif.)
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