PFC hearing set for March 13

Mayor has requested removal of members over "slush fund"
Scott Girard

The Fitchburg Common Council will hear a case to remove three Police and Fire Commission members March 13.

The hearing is required because Mayor Shawn Pfaff filed a complaint alleging that commissioners Cora Higginbotham, Thomas Marquardt and Tom Shellander improperly received jackets and polo shirts from the fire department that were purchased by a “slush fund” set up by former chief Randy Pickering.

Pickering ended his time as chief earlier this month after controversy around the slush fund continued following a 16-month investigation that had found no basis for criminal charges. Pickering said in a letter announcing his retirement it was because he was moving out of the Fitchburg fire district.

At the Jan. 14 meeting when the council approved the rules for the hearing and set the date, Shellander asked the council to learn more about the incident and the process currently taking place.

“The mayor has waged war on volunteers for the city,” Shellander said to the council, referring to the commission and members of the fire department. “Before we go down this path of embarrassing the city of these ridiculous charges you should try and find out what’s going on.”

City alder Richard Bloomquist (Dist. 2) pointed out that it was not the council’s decision whether to have a hearing, that they instead were only deciding on the rules.

“We have to have the hearing,” Bloomquist said, unless Pfaff withdraws the complaint.

Pfaff recused himself during the rules and date decision process because he is the complainant.

The hearing will take place at 6:30 p.m. in the council chambers, and all motions and subpoenas must be received by Feb. 27.

Earlier this month, The Capital Times published a deep look into the issue.

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