PFC hearing canceled

Mayor withdraws charges
Mark Ignatowski

A hearing to remove three City of Fitchburg Police and Fire Commissioners has been canceled after mayor Shawn Pfaff withdrew his charges.

Pfaff filed a complaint in late 2013 as a private citizen to remove Cora Higginbotham, Thomas Marquardt and Tom Shellander. Pfaff alleged that the three received jackets and T-shirts from the fire department as gifts, thus affecting their ability to impartially oversee the police and fire departments. Pfaff also alleged that Higginbotham unlawfully wore one of the jackets while on the scene of an incident.

All three denied the charges.

City attorney Mark Sewell said in an email late Wednesday that Higginbotham had resigned from the commission and that the mayor withdrew his charges against the other two members.

In a letter delivered to the city clerk, Pfaff said he had new information about the fourth charge against Higginbotham.

"I have talked with Cora Higginbotham and she has told me, contrary to prior information I had, that she was authorized by the now-retired Fitchburg fire chief (Randy Pickering) to be present at the scene of an emergency last fall," Pfaff wrote. "There were no complaints or questions relating to any specific incidents, and references to emergency incidents were unrelated to Ms. Higginbotham and her PFC duties."

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