Milwaukee Revises Job Penalties
In January the Milwaukee Fire and Police Commission moderated the suspensions given two Milwaukee fire fighters by Chief Edward Wischer for working other jobs on off-days. The men appealed the suspensions of 90 days and 30 days respectively after Chief Wischer had checked income tax returns of firemen in 1954, but the suspensions were held up pending the appeal of one of the men to the courts questioning the validity of the city ordinance which banned firemen from holding outside jobs. The State Supreme Court, late in 1955, upheld the ordinance, as noted in FIRE ENGINEERING of December, 1955, and Chief Wischer then imposed the suspensions which began in January.
More than 100 persons attended the hearings on January 26 which resulted in the halving of the men’s suspensions.
It was disclosed that one of the men, who had five children, had earned $5,846.76 working part-time for a building firm. An assistant city attorney said this fireman had made false reports of his income to the Milwaukee Housing Authority, enabling him to continue residence at a particular housing project. The manager of the project said this fireman was paying the Housing Authority $25.00 a month in “back rent,” the additional sum he would have had to pay if he had declared his total income in signing leases.
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The fire fighter told the Commission: “I worked outside the department to take care of my family and feed them. I found I could not keep going on my fire department pay. I thought in my own mind the rule (forbidding outside employment) was not valid.”
Chief Wischer, defending the 90-day suspension of this fireman, said: “This was an aggravated case. We require that the fire department rules and city ordinances be lived up to. Not only did the fireman work outside the department, but he made false statements to the Housing Authority.
The other fireman worked part-time at a lumber firm, earning a total of $1,915. He also worked for a building firm in the summer and fall, receiving $544.39 according to testimony. The city attorney; recommended that the first fireman’s suspension be reduced to 60 days and that the other fire fighter’s 30-day suspension was reasonable.
The commission in executive session cut the suspension periods to 45 and 15 days respectively.