The disciplinary hearing of suspended Liberty Township Fire Chief Tim Jensen will resume in three weeks — after testimony was heard Wednesday, the third day of the hearing.
After returning from a closed-door executive session, Liberty Township trustees decided to recess the disciplinary hearing about 10:15 p.m. Wednesday. It will resume at 9 a.m. Sept. 1 and 2.
Attorneys on both sides of the hearing didn’t see the break as a hindrance but as time to re-evaluate.
“We’re prepared to take it to the end,” said Edward Kim, attorney for the trustees.
Attorneys for Jensen saw it as a chance to “freshen things up.”
“We see the break as an opportunity to reset,” said Paul Bittner, Jensen’s attorney. “One of the things we can do is review the testimonies and freshen things up.”
Jensen, who is facing misconduct charges filed by trustees, has been on paid administrative leave since March 1, pending the result of the hearing. The charges were filed after trustees hired a Cincinnati attorney, Douglas Duckett, to investigate Jensen’s conduct as chief and to write a report that concluded Jensen is not fit to continue as the township’s fire chief.
Tuesday night’s session ended with township human resources specialist Cathy Buehrer called as a witness by Kim. On Wednesday night, Bittner cross-examined her.
Bittner brought up that Buehrer had stated in the Duckett report that “Chief Jensen is a nice person to talk with and his presence is genuine.”
Bittner asked her “if she believed that.”
Buehrer said she did at that time but now she doesn’t know. “In my opinion, many of the things brought up are the responsibility of the office of fire chief,” Buehrer said. “It seems that those responsibilities are being put to everyone else. … I have issue with that.”
Bittner questioned Buehrer about Jensen’s repeated failure to provide complete and timely paperwork to her for employees’ files. Buehrer said she wanted to set up a centralized system of all employee files at the township offices.
Buehrer said she saw that there weren’t any reprimands with the firefighters’ files and asked Jensen for them.
“I asked for the reprimands so they were part of the files,” Buehrer said.
Buehrer said Jensen did bring them in, but it was days after she had asked for them.
D. Anthony Botkin may be reached at 740-413-0902 or on Twitter @dabotkin.