Displaying results 1 - 25 of 6400 for fire department. Subscribe to this search
PHOENIX (AP) — The U.S. Attorney for Arizona has found no evidence that Arizona's pension fund for public safety workers committed criminal misconduct when it valued some real estate properties in its $6.2 billion portfolio, pension officials announced Monday.
The board chairman for the Public Safety Personnel Retirement System, Brian Tobin, said the decision by the US Attorney for Arizona closes the books on the yearlong investigation of the pension fund.
The FBI and U.S. attorney's office launched the probe last year into whether real estate values were inflated to boost performance bonuses awarded to some senior investment managers. The allegations were brought to the attention of prosecutors by former pension system employees.
"This was and is a serious allegation," Tobin said. "It's not true and it never was true."
Tobin said the investigation, and two others done by its independent auditing firm and the Arizona Auditor General that also cleared the pension fund, are examples of the system's checks and balances working correctly.
Board lawyer James Belanger said the Justice Department is completing a review of several people he would not identify. But he said he expects they'll be cleared as well.
The pension plan released a letter from the U.S. attorney to Belanger confirming the decision. Cosme Lopez, spokesman for U.S. Attorney for Arizona John Leonardo, confirmed the contents of the letter but could not comment on any additional reviews.
The pension plan for public safety employees is facing a massive shortfall between its assets and what it expects to owe police and firefighters across the state when they retire. The latest projection as of June 30 shows $12.2 billion in liabilities compared to just $6.2 billion in assets.
The pension board also fired its top administrator, Jim Hacking, in July after it was revealed that he had illegally awarded pay raises to five senior employees.
Sharon Helman, shown in an undated photo, was fired Monday as director of the Phoenix VA Health Care System. (AP Photo/Veterans Affairs Department)
WASHINGTON (AP) — The head of the troubled Phoenix veterans' hospital was fired Monday as the Veterans Affairs Department continued its crackdown on wrongdoing in the wake of a nationwide scandal over long wait times for veterans seeking medical care and falsified records covering up the delays.
Sharon Helman, director of the Phoenix VA Health Care System, was ousted nearly seven months after she and two high-ranking officials were placed on administrative leave amid an investigation into allegations that 40 veterans died while awaiting treatment at the hospital. Helman had led the giant Phoenix facility, which treats more than 80,000 veterans a year, since February 2012.
The Phoenix hospital was at the center of the wait-time scandal, which led to the ouster of former VA Secretary Eric Shinseki and a new, $16 billion law overhauling the labyrinthine veterans' health care system.
VA Secretary Robert McDonald said Helman's dismissal underscores the agency's commitment to hold leaders accountable and ensure that veterans have access to high-quality, timely care.
An investigation by the VA's office of inspector general found that workers at the Phoenix VA hospital falsified waiting lists while their supervisors looked the other way or even directed it, resulting in chronic delays for veterans seeking care. At least 40 patients died while awaiting appointments in Phoenix, the report said, but officials could not "conclusively assert" that delays in care caused the deaths.
About 1,700 veterans in need of care were "at risk of being lost or forgotten" after being kept off the official waiting list at the troubled Phoenix hospital, the IG's office said.
"Lack of oversight and misconduct by VA leaders runs counter to our mission of serving veterans, and VA will not tolerate it," McDonald said in a statement late Monday. "We depend on VA employees and leaders to put the needs of veterans first."
Helman is the fifth senior executive fired or forced to resign in recent weeks in response to the wait-time scandal.
Helman did not immediately respond to telephone messages Monday from The Associated Press.
Helman, who has worked at the VA since 1990, has been on paid leave since May 1, shortly after a former clinic director at the Phoenix site alleged that up to 40 patients may have died because of delays in care and that the hospital kept a secret list of patients waiting for appointments to hide the treatment delays.
Dr. Samuel Foote, who had worked for the Phoenix VA for more than 20 years before retiring last December, brought the allegations to light and says supervisors ignored his complaints for months.
In an interview with the AP in May, hours before being placed on administrative leave, Helman denied any knowledge of a secret list and said she had found no evidence of patient deaths due to delayed care.
Helman told the AP that she takes her job seriously and was personally offended by the claims of misconduct.
"I have given over 20 years of service to this mission. I am proud to lead this hospital," Helman said. "I have never wavered from the ethical standards that I have held my entire career, and I will continue to give these veterans what they deserve, which is the best health care."
Associated Press writer Brian Skoloff in Phoenix contributed to this story.
San Diego resident and Navy veteran Jim Jengeleski walked into a Chandler dental office with a request.
Gilbert Fire & Rescue and the Gilbert Police Department are hosting their annual Collecting Clothes and Toys for Gilbert Girls and Boys holiday gift drive.
PHOENIX (AP) — In the wake of a former police officer's suicide, Phoenix is creating a task force to consider possible ways to improve the city's programs to help police officers and other responders afflicted with post-traumatic stress disorder.
PHOENIX (AP) — Phoenix officials are expected to announce a plan this week to help police officers afflicted with post-traumatic stress disorder.
Mayor Greg Stanton tells KPHO-TV he asked City Manager Ed Zuercher to appoint a task force to examine how to better support police officers and firefighters with PTSD.
The effort follows last week's suicide of former Phoenix police officer Craig Tiger.
Tiger was fired after a drunk driving arrest in June 2013. The arrest occurred one year after Tiger and his partner were involved in the fatal shooting of a man who was threatening people in a park with a bat.
Police advocacy groups such as the Phoenix Law Enforcement Association say the Phoenix Police Department should have done more to help Tiger.
PHOENIX (AP) — Authorities say a mechanic is dead after being crushed by a car he was working on at a Phoenix used automobile dealership.
Phoenix Fire Department officials say the 43-year-old victim had been working beneath the car Tuesday at Fred Carries Contracts Inc. when a jack slipped, causing the vehicle to fall on his chest.
Phoenix police say Salbador Gonzalez was dead by the time Phoenix police and firefighters were called to the dealership.
Police and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration are investigating the death.
Phoenix • For 20 years, no-burn days have required residents and businesses to refrain from using wood-burning fireplaces, fire pits and wood stoves to reduce air pollution in metro Phoenix.
Phoenix Veterans Day Parade
As a very concerned Arizona resident and caring grandmother, I feel it is very important to inform Arizonans that their vote for superintendent of public instruction should be about qualifications, experience and expertise in the education field.
Firefighters rescue a Mesa family's horse from their swimming pool Saturday, Oct. 25. (AP Photo/Mesa Fire Department)
Washington • Lawmakers reacted angrily this week to reports that the Department of Veterans Affairs may have known about problems at its Phoenix health care facilities years before they came to light this spring.
A 2008 report by the VA Office of Inspector General found that workers in Phoenix were manipulating records to improve their own performance reviews and to make it appear as if veterans had shorter wait-times for care.
That was echoed in a 2010 internal memo that said VA employees were “gaming the system” to make wait times appear shorter.
Those same practices were revealed this spring, when whistleblowers charged that delays in health care may have led to the deaths of some veterans. Those disclosures sparked a series of angry hearings in Congress, which passed a multibillion-dollar reform bill this summer.
VA officials said late this week that the earlier reports addressed problems as they were identified and it should have been “no secret” to Congress.
But lawmakers didn’t see it that way.
“Anyone who concealed these findings should be immediately fired,” said Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick, D-Flagstaff, in a written statement late Wednesday.
Kirkpatrick, a member of the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee, called the VA’s handling of wait times “government at its worst.”
Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., said Thursday that he found the existence of earlier reports “disturbing.” Those reports “further highlight the need for fundamental reform, new leadership and full accountability at the Phoenix VA,” he said in a prepared statement.
Problems uncovered at the Phoenix VA earlier this year started a national examination of the department that found widespread problems and led to the resignation in May of then-Secretary Eric Shinseki.
An August inspector general’s report on the Phoenix facility cited cases of wait-time manipulation at 20 other facilities around the country. It included links to the full reports on those other cases, dating as far back as 2005, and also linked to a 2011 report on mismanaged non-VA care funds in Phoenix.
But the August report included no such link to the 2008 report on Phoenix wait-times. That earlier report received only a two-sentence reference that said it “was an accepted past practice at the medical center to alter appointments to avoid wait times greater than 30 days and that some employees still continued that practice.”
OIG officials said Thursday that the 2008 report had not previously been released because it contained information protected by the Privacy Act, which protects personal information recorded by federal agencies.
A complaint by an employee of sexual and racial harassment preceded by one day the Oct. 17 decision by Gov. Jan Brewer to fire the head of state agency that oversees virtually all state workers.
PHOENIX -- A complaint by an employee claiming sexual and racial harassment preceded by one day the Oct. 17 decision by Gov. Jan Brewer to fire the head of state agency that oversees virtually all state workers.
Documents obtained by Capitol Media Services show the Governor's Office was given copies of a filing by the worker with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission on Oct. 16. The worker, whose identity was not disclosed, said in her filing with the EEOC that Brian McNeil, director of the state Department of Administration, made comments to her last year with "sexual connotations.''
"He also mentioned that although I was an 'attractive women' and a good speaker, he wanted more from my job performance,'' the complaint states. The woman also said that McNeil repeatedly referred to her as being in a "protected class,'' that others would not criticize her work performance "based on racial issues,'' and she needed to "woman up.''
While the EEOC filing was in February, gubernatorial spokesman Andrew Wilder said his boss did not become aware of the issue until Oct. 16. It was that day the woman gave a copy of the filing to Kathy Peckardt, a deputy chief of staff to Brewer, with a sticky note to Peckardt saying "this is what was turned into the federal EEOC office, and the investigator interviewed me on 2/14/14.''
But what may have precipitated the woman to take that action is her allegation that problems with McNeil continued right through the day she informed the Governor's Office.
The woman furnished Peckardt with a statement saying she had met that day with McNeil, saying there were "some positives mentioned about growth opportunities.'' But she said there were other comments.
For example, she said McNeil mentioned the possibility of working with the Government Transformation Office, saying she could bring good qualities to the group. "But I had an upside because I am a member of the protected class, and others might be afraid to say things to me that might make me mad.''
She also reported that McNeil asked her age "because one of his buddies was impressed with me at a work function but only wanted to date someone that had to be 40 years old.''
McNeil was fired the following day.
In a prepared statement, McNeil said he has never discriminated against anyone based on race or gender and believes he was treated unfairly.
"I believe had this matter been researched and investigated fairly, properly and objectively, it would have already been found to be something other than what is characterized,'' he said.
McNeil also said he was never given the specifics of the accusation, interviewed about it or provided an opportunity to review and respond before being told to resign or be fired.
"I (saw) the media received the documents in surprisingly quick fashion, but I had no chance to review them although I am the one accused,'' he said.
The story does not end with McNeil's firing.
On Tuesday, the woman told Peckardt in a memo that she received five phone calls from McNeil earlier that day in less than three hours on her personal cell phone, with him leaving a voice message on one and a text message with another.
"Because this was after his termination, it left me feeling very uneasy and a bit concerned,'' the woman wrote. "I decided to not stay at my home on this particular night due to the uneasiness.''
"I wish things would have gone better,'' McNeil says in an audio of the voice message obtained by Capitol Media Services. "I wish I would have been more sensitive, you know, about how I was coming across early on,'' the message continues. And he said the meeting Oct. 16 -- the one that apparently precipitated the woman giving all the information to the state -- "was intended to try to help promote, you know, better, clear dialog between you and I about professional matters.''
For the moment, McNeil remains on the state payroll.
Scott Smith, the governor's chief of staff, agreed to a request by McNeil, who is a lieutenant colonel in the Army Reserve, that he be placed on paid military leave through Nov. 7. And he is being allowed to use annual leave from Nov. 10 through Dec. 19.
McNeil was executive director of the Arizona Corporation Commission from 1999 to 2009. That year, he joined the Brewer administration as a deputy chief of staff. He left to become a lobbyist but was rehired by the governor two years ago to head the Department of Administration. That agency has purview over human resources and personnel issues as well as everything from state buildings to fleet management.
AVONDALE, Ariz. – Glendale police will be investigating the criminal aspect of an assault on an Avondale officer by a theft suspect that left the officer with injuries.
The suspect, who allegedly stole a city of Avondale truck and led police on a wild pursuit, died after being shot by police.
The officer was taken to a Valley hospital after the suspect crashed the truck into his police cruiser in Avondale Thursday morning. The officer had not been identified as of 8 p.m. Thursday.
Avondale police said 43-year-old Jeremy Bustos of Avondale assaulted a City of Avondale maintenance worker then stole the worker's truck around 9 a.m. near 111th Avenue and Durango Street, prompting a ground and aerial pursuit. After a short chase, crews deployed stop sticks near the same intersection, disabling the truck. Video showed Bustos use the stolen truck to ram the officer's vehicle as the truck careered into a nearby tree. Aerial footage showed emergency crews extricating the officer from his cruiser before he was airlifted from the scene.
He is listed in stable condition.
Other officers were then seen with guns drawn approaching the truck just before Bustos got out and attempted to flee on foot. Avondale police said Bustos pulled out a machete and advanced on officers, prompting them to open fire. Bustos was taken to the hospital where he died from his injuries.
Dorothy Reyes heard the chase from her house. "He went back and forth a few times, I'd say four times, and then all of a sudden he just hit the cop car," Reyes said.
Avondale police Sgt. Brandon Busse said, "We were very lucky that the suspect didn't hit anybody else."
Avondale police asked the Glendale department to take over the criminal aspect of the investigation.