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Former Chief Suing Novato Fire District for Defamation and Fraud

Former Novato Fire District Chief Marc Revere says he did not misuse district funds or spend money without authorization.

File photo. Marc Revere.
File photo. Marc Revere.
Members of the Novato Fire District Board of Directors lied in statements to the Marin Independent Journal and went back on their word to former fire chief Marc Revere, a lawsuit filed Wednesday says.

Revere is suing the fire district, alleging defamation and fraud, the IJ reported Friday.

The lawsuit says the fire district's board told Revere he could either retire or be fired, and members of the board later told that newspaper it was because the then-fire chief had misused a district credit card and approved work the board hadn't OK'd.

Those statements to the newspaper were false, the lawsuit says.

Revere's lawsuit, which the IJ says seeks unspecified damages, also says the fire district board told Revere it would forgive a loan the district made to Revere to help him buy a home in Novato if he retired. Revere owed more on the home than it was worth at the time the promise was made, Revere's lawyer told the IJ.

The board failed to follow through on its promise after Revere's retirement, according to the lawsuit.

The fire district board is scheduled to meet on Wednesday, and will hear financial reports on the fiscal year that ended on June 30, as well as discuss purchasing 25 iPads.

Read more on the lawsuit at the Marin Independent Journal's website.

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Sam November 30, 2013 at 03:45 PM
Guess the only way the public and taxpayers can find out the truth if it goes to a jury and We all know that won't happen . The only thing that will happen is that the three who are up for election in two years will be voted back into office by the few who vote . The public will once again cry and continue to do nothing as the world turns and continues to crash because of our stupidity
John Parnell November 30, 2013 at 05:16 PM
I have seen Farhad Mansourian commit fraud before, so I know who I believe. He lied through his teeth to the Transportation Agency of Marin (TAM), to get SMART's bailout. He concealed a $35 million cost overrun, and lied to all of the Supervisors & cities when directly asked. Although our Supervisor Judy Arnold was in on the lie, so he didn't technically lie to ALL of them. He stalled my public records request, which was also illegal, to shield the evidence until he got his millions. He also fired the SMART CFO over it, because he incorrectly thought he was the whistleblower. Everything that Farhad Mansourian touches is tainted with his sleaze.
Roger November 30, 2013 at 07:39 PM
I think the Novato fire district needs more oversight. The IJ sued and got pay figures for Marin civil servants and the top 4 were in fire districts. One assistant chief in Novato got more than $400,000/year. Thus, I feel there is some fat there to cut, since for every open fire job there are 100s of applicants. Also, our fire district gets double the property tax money compared to the regular city staff (cops, planners, street maintenance) who took deep pay cuts in recent years.
Linda November 30, 2013 at 07:59 PM
Roger, The time to complain is not after an election or a tax increase so once again you are wasting your time. Our local fire has nothing to do with the city budget as they are a Fire District and they are paid through Property Taxes and Ambulance service
Craig Belfor November 30, 2013 at 09:10 PM
This will never get to court. It will be settled for the cost of defense. This is the new way double dippers get even more money out of the system if their double retirement cash falls short of their lifestyle needs. Farad, a triple dipper, will roll over on this and recommend payment.
Karina Ioffee November 30, 2013 at 10:58 PM
@Linda. Re: "the fire protection district budget has nothing to do with the city budget." This is true, but also not true. The district is primarily funded through property taxes, with 7 cents of every $1 in property taxes residents pay going to their budget. That means LESS money for the city of Novato, which gets only 4 cents of every $1 from property taxes. So even though they have two different budgets, the district pulls money that could otherwise go to the city if it provided its own fire service like Petaluma or San Rafael. I have asked numerous times why this has not been studied and have been told that "it's just traditionally how it's done here" and "wouldn't be very popular politically."
Craig Belfor November 30, 2013 at 11:38 PM
Kind of like the monkey study.
Craig Belfor December 01, 2013 at 12:25 AM
The time has come to look into disbanding the fire and sanitary districts. The were both created before Novato was incorporated as a city, and the need was for the service in spite of the fact that there was no government to supply the service. Now we have a city government, and as much as I disagree with the way they run this town, I can't imagine them doing a worse job. The sanitary district gave operating authority to Veola, and although Petaluma pays over one million dollars per year to Veola for the street repair due to the large trucks, Novato/Veola charges nothing. The cost of charging this fee, and passing it on to the customers would only be about $2.88 per household, and if Novato was running it, we'd have a $700,000 surplus instead of a $300,000 deficit. The fire district gets almost twice as much money from property taxes, but provides nowhere near the amount of services that the rest of Novato uses. No wonder they can pay $400.000 for an assistant chief. We need to find a way to crack this death grip on our finances.
Bob Ratto December 01, 2013 at 10:07 AM
Novato gets 6.8% of your base property taxes, plus they get things you voted on like bonds. The fire district gets roughly 15% of your property taxes, which is roughly the same as the county, schools get a bit over 50%. What is a bit puzzling about this story (like something is missing) is why was there was no arguing about this when it first came out?...perhaps the house is no longer under water (with that salary, why the need for a sweetheart loan), and he wants to renegotiate...
Bob December 01, 2013 at 10:47 AM
It may be difficult to have the city take over the Sanitary and Fire Districts as they both provide service beyond the boundary of the city. Also part of the funds, for the Fire District, is a special assessment voted in to establish and maintain a Paramedic service. Also the base pay for the Chief that received the $400K, is somewhere in the $150 K area. One would have to dig deeper to find out what additional monies were added to arrive at that figure.......Regarding property tax, as I recall, the City also gets about an equal amount from sales tax. The 2 taxes total about 70% of the City's funding. The City also laid off many employees, including police. We also gave them a 1/2 cent sales tax raise to maintain services. If I have chest pain in the middle of the night I want Paramedics here now. I don't think I want the City running my fire department.
Fred Pfeifer December 01, 2013 at 11:21 AM
And the beat goes on
Roger December 01, 2013 at 11:33 AM
Bob: Is firefighters' retirement based on their base pay?
Craig Belfor December 01, 2013 at 11:41 AM
I believe that that's the way it always works. The trick that's played is that the firemen get promoted just before retirement, so the increase in pay doesn't hurt the current budget much, and the many years of increased retirement cash gets funded elsewhere. Add to that the dumping of unused vacation and sick pay in to the last year to game up the base, and the job swap with another agency, these double dippers make more money than brain surgeons. How do we stop it? Replace the board with non-firemen or disband it.
Bob December 01, 2013 at 12:34 PM
As far as I know the retirement is based on the base pay. The exception that I can think of is that an employee working in a temporary position in a higher pay grade will get credit for that extra pay earned. USUALLY that employee eventually gets promoted to that position or is a career employee in their own pay grade that it doesn't make much difference in their retirement. From the folks that I know there, most employees that are promoted to a higher pay grade, stay for years after their promotion. For an employee to retire after getting a promotion will only benefit the employee if they work in that position for at least a year to establish the higher base pay otherwise the base pay will be prorated depending on the number of months worked in the position.…. Unused vacation can be used to extend the years of service but has nothing to do with base pay. Vacation is used up each year and there is no carryover except if the employee is injured on the job they cannot be forced to use their vacation while on workmen’s comp. I believe that is state or federal law. Sick pay can only be accumulated to so many hours and then is paid back to the employee at $.50 on the dollar. At retirement any accumulated sick pay is paid to the employee at $.50 on the dollar and is not added to the base pay. An employee can retire and benefit from double dipping by going to work for another fire dept. if that agency belongs to a different retirement plan. If the new agency belongs to the same retirement system then the employee continues to build on the original retirement. In the new retirement system the retirement is still based on years of service. Many retirement systems require 10 years of service to retire. If an employee retires in less than 10 years I think they can only get the amount of money that they paid into the retirement system. Generally Chief officers are the only position that can benefit from this tactic as Chief’s can negotiate for their terms of employment with the new employer.
Brant December 01, 2013 at 01:30 PM
If you are interested in the status of Novato Fire's pension plan (managed by MCERA, not CalPERS), see here: http://www.co.marin.ca.us/depts/RT/main/Reports/reports_main.cfm . The Novato Fire summary is an easy read and the cost of the plan really jumps out, but there is more information in the actuarial report. The actuarial report also defines compensation as excluding overtime unless regular and recurring (is it in Fire's case??). If you are interested in total compensation paid by Novato Fire, see here: http://www.novatofire.org/index.aspx?page=245 . The IJ provides access to similar numbers (which fuzzy memory suggests are different from the one's on Novato Fire's site).
Bob December 01, 2013 at 02:48 PM
The actuarial report also defines compensation as excluding overtime unless regular and recurring (is it in Fire's case??). This is where an employer basically forces employees to work overtime and does not want to include it in base pay yet they get the advantage of having like a part time employee. As far as I know it does not apply here.
Roger December 01, 2013 at 03:50 PM
I think if a firefighter is making over $400,000/year, there is a lot of recurring and regular overtime.
Craig Belfor December 01, 2013 at 04:34 PM
So working in the new position for a year works? Also, please address the double dipping rules.
Bob December 01, 2013 at 07:41 PM
The employee needs a year to establish a new base pay in the new position. It is rare for an employee to test for a promotional position at the end of their career because the testing process takes many months to prepare, assuming they have the qualifications/certifications to even apply to take the test. Then the test it’s self can be a day or two demonstrating that you can do the job by doing job related tasks with time limits. There also needs to be a promotional position open or there is no promotion. For example to even apply to take a promotional position as Captain an employee may need to be a State certified Fire Officer, have a degree in Fire Science from a Junior Collage or better and say 5 years or more as an employee. The State Fire Officer certification alone is passing 10, forty hour classes given by the State. Usually the cost of the classes and the time to take them is the responsibility of the employee. And the retirement is based on years of service so that getting promoted to a higher pay class doesn't give you a fat retirement without many years of service. Most citizens don’t realize how highly trained/educated our modern Firefighters are. It is a career where most stay 25 or more years. No, not many take a promotional test just before they retire.
Bob December 01, 2013 at 08:11 PM
Double dipping does not happen that frequently because Chief Officers are usually the ones that can benefit the most. Think of a Chief officer like a CEO of a corporation. They have developed a talent over the years of being able to lead the organization by maintaining a solid budget, keeping the employees organized and planning for the future. In the fire service it takes years to go through the ranks and make it to a Chief Officer. ( on top of the qualifications for Captain, the Chief Officer has a whole different set of State Certifications dealing with budgets and running a fire dept.) Usually a fire dept. employee is well into their career before they qualify to be a Chief Officer. As they near retirement, like the CEO, they have developed marketable skills. Other fire departments may not have developed qualified personnel from within and could be looking for a seasoned Chief Officer. So a Chief Officer, thinking of retiring, may take their retirement and apply to work for another department that is in need of those skills. So the double dipping comes from taking his/her retirement at the same time working for another department. Many of these Chief Officers do this out of love for the job and the new challenge, while the new department is taking advantage of hiring a highly educated / trained individual that their department needs. Ideally a department will encourage their own employees to take a career path that would lead them to Chief Officer and promote from within. At street level another example could be a Carpenter that has retired and is collecting Social Security and Carpenter pension and then going to work for a contracting firm as an estimator.
Jerome J Ghigliotti Jr December 01, 2013 at 08:27 PM
Shades of Chief Onorato. But then who remembers the 1970s? I think that he got a nice chunk for a disability retirement, maybe something else. The ONE thing that I would not want is for the Fire District to become a City agency. That would concentrate too much potential for malfeasance in one building.
Roger December 03, 2013 at 11:05 PM
If Michael Frank was overseeing the firefighters like he does the cops, that assistant fire chief would not had have gotten $400,000 / year. I guarantee that. Having the fire board consist of next firefighters doesn't work very well fiscally.
Linda December 04, 2013 at 08:03 AM
Roger, How do you guarantee anything you have no control over ? Talk facts and not your garbage
Gram December 04, 2013 at 09:32 AM
How is it that Michael Frank has the authority to "oversee" the Police Dept! Who oversees him?
Roger December 17, 2013 at 03:07 PM
The IJ editor today points a finger at the ex chief Revere.
Sam December 17, 2013 at 08:47 PM
Gram, You are his boss by voting for the city council . Mr frank "oversees" the whole city . Good thing you are not the boss

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