Former utilities worker alleges wrongful firing |

Former utilities worker alleges wrongful firing

CARBONDALE – An ex-employee of the town of Carbondale alleges Utilities Director Ed Fortner fired him after he “tried to get him to come clean” about a deer poaching incident.Fortner was ticketed last week by the Colorado Division of Wildlife for poaching a deer from his back porch south of Carbondale on Nov. 6, 2005.Statements from an official investigator’s affidavit claim that Fortner used a town of Carbondale work truck and asked another town employee to dispose of the deer remains.Fortner has been on paid administrative leave since Friday, according to Carbondale Town Manager Tom Baker.Baker said the allegations are being investigated by Mountain States Employers Council, of which the town is a member.On Monday, an investigator spoke with former town worker Tom McClelland, who claims he was fired because he confronted Fortner about the poaching incident.”I brought up (the deer shooting and use of town truck to dispose of it) to Ed Fortner, and he went ballistic on me,” McClelland told the Post Independent Monday. “(He said), ‘If you bring this up again, you’re out of here.'”McClelland said he was then fired on Jan. 20 after seven weeks on the job as the utilities supervisor below Fortner. This came after he said he had just been given a good evaluation and a 6 percent raise shortly after the first of the year based on his performance. After bringing up the deer incident to Fortner, McClelland said he was written up for 39 personnel violations, including things like bringing morale down, poor communications skills, tendency to make typos, and a statement that McClelland is a “loose cannon.””I’m just worried they’re trying to sweep this thing under the rug. It puts the town of Carbondale in a bad position,” McClelland said. “I pled with Ed to come clean (about poaching a deer). He has city employees involved in this, I begged him. We need to get this resolved.”Baker said he asked Fortner to work from home until things are figured out.”I just wanted to keep things from getting any murkier,” Baker said. Baker will ultimately decide what action to take if Fortner is found to have used town resources to help dispose of the deer.Meanwhile, McClelland said he would like to have his job back. He said he isn’t trying to get any money out of the town, he just wants the town to do the right thing.”I don’t know what the city’s going to do, but I know I’m in the right,” he said. “I just want to go back to work.”Several other utilities department employees are also being questioned. Baker said he should know more information from the investigation early next week.Contact Gina Guarascio: 963-3211, ext. 102

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