March 1, 2007 at 10:13 pm #66766Pam BKeymaster
My subject line is tongue-in-cheek of course, because if you read this whole story, it sounds like the hex was a joke, who knows? But I put this here in the ETHICS folder, because the “psychic” website allowed real names to be posted where they could be found by the search engines, and the “psychic” performed a reading on an unknowing second party, which is against my ethical stance.
What do you think?
THU., MAR 1, 2007 – 1:00 PM
Voodoo hex at the fire station?
MIDDLETON – A Middleton fire marshal has been on paid leave since July while officials investigate allegations he used a department computer to consult with an online psychic and conspired with others to buy an Internet voodoo hex against the chief.
The consultations by Tom Weber sought to divine whether he and others would be successful in removing Fire Chief Aaron Harris, Harris said. Searches of department computers also found Weber had exchanged e-mails seeking to discredit and disparage the chief, Harris said.
“It was all legally obtained in our district-owned computers,” Harris said of the investigation. “This is really creepy stuff.”
A disciplinary hearing for Weber is scheduled for March 19 before an arbitrator, who will make a recommendation to the Middleton Fire Protection District Commission.
But Bruce Ehlke, attorney for Firefighters Local 311, said the e-mails are protected speech. The union has filed a complaint on behalf of Weber with the state Employee Relations Commission.
“The hex thing, that was a joke” Ehlke said. “The hex wasn’t Weber’s joke. The person stated that joke in an e-mail sent to Weber’s personal, private e-mail account. The whole thing about the psychic is a sideshow.”
But Harris isn’t laughing. He said the contact with the psychic and other e-mails are part of a larger effort started in 2004 by a handful of fire department employees and volunteers to discredit him and force him to resign.
One of the e-mails Weber received indicated someone had bought a hex “wishing harm upon me,” Harris said, although he hadn’t seen the alleged curse.
Weber could not be reached for comment.
Harris was elected chief in 2003 and later appointed to the position permanently by the Fire Commission.
Since being named chief, Harris has begun restructuring the department, including changing who conducted fire inspections and when they were completed. The changes affected Weber but did not threaten his job, he said. Harris said it was during this time a small group of employees and volunteers began working against him.
In July 2005 more than 20 current and former Middleton firefighters wrote a letter to the commission complaining of safety concerns, fiscal lapses and poor personnel practices at the department.
A similar complaint was filed in 2004. Harris was cleared of wrongdoing in both complaints.
The union has also filed three complaints against Harris with the WERC since he was appointed chief.
It was while researching the status of a WERC hearing through the online search engine Google that Harris discovered Weber’s psychic connection.
On an archived page of a psychic Web site he found a message from someone identifying himself as Thomas Weber asking about his boss, Aaron Harris.
“Our union has filed grievences with the WERC,” the message read. “He is on a major power trip and has been treating us like trash, will our union obtain a favorable outcome in the hearing.”
The psychic, identified only as Atham Z, was not encouraging: “I don’t feel you will be completely happy with the outcome of the hearing. I expect your boss will be warned but not disciplined for his past actions.”
After finding the message and several others online, a computer technician checked the district’s computers and found the exchanges were happening at work. The e-mails and psychic communications date to 2004, or to around the time Harris was named chief.
Harris confronted Weber with the findings in May and formal disciplinary charges were filed with the Middleton Fire Protection District ComMission in June.
Ehlke said Weber received a number of e-mails over two to three years in which other people criticized the chief.
“Some of the e-mails were fairly forcefully stated,” he said. “People were very concerned about what was going on.”
Weber received the messages because he was seen as the primary contact person seeking union representation for the regular full-time employees, Ehlke said.
He said the alleged psychic contacts or alleged attempted voodoo curse weren’t “a major issue.”
“The more important concern is . . . the fire chief’s real objection was to these e-mails Weber received, sometimes couched in intemperate language,” he said.
“I don’t find it to be a joking matter, nor do I believe it was a joke.”March 1, 2007 at 11:23 pm #116378Paula MaeParticipant
Makes you wonder what kind of neighborhood I live in doesnt it!
PaulaMarch 2, 2007 at 1:24 am #116381JudeParticipant
LOTS of no-no’s :tsktsk: here, the first being using company computers to consult online psychics during work hours. :rolleyes: But for a website like that to conduct such a reading and post the real names? :cuss: Guess I’d better just do this instead —> :nosay:
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