Thursday, May 25, 2000

Ex-police chief sues over firing by mayor

Says he lost job for whistle blowing

By Susan Vela
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        INDEPENDENCE — The former police chief sued Mayor Tom Kriege and the city of Independence Wednesday, fulfilling a promise that he'd go to court over the way he lost his job.

        Ed Porter was placed on paid leave on April 4, then fired several weeks later. He alleges he was let go for “blowing the whistle” on Mr. Kriege, who he says was trying to sway a criminal investigation of City Councilman Steve Feldhaus.

        “I've been involved in law enforcement for 30 years, and my first disciplinary action was to be fired,” he said. “The way (Mr. Kriege) did it was completely wrong. What he did was certainly arbitrary and capricious on his part. We are well prepared to prove that.”

        Mr. Porter is demanding a jury trial and an unspecified amount in back pay, legal fees and punitive damages in the lawsuit filed in Kenton Circuit Court. He is also requesting a permanent injunction that would reinstate him to the position he held for about five years.

        The lawsuit stems from the misdemeanor charges of wanton endangerment and criminal mischief that were filed against Mr. Feldhaus for allegedly installing carpet tack strips on a city park building, allegedly to prevent juveniles from hanging on gutters. Mr. Feldhaus claimed they were installed to keep roosting and nesting birds away. The charges are to be dismissed if he does 40 hours of community service by July 5.

        In his lawsuit, Mr. Porter alleges that his termination “was a reprisal and done in retaliation” for a letter he wrote to Commonwealth Attorney Don Buring.

        The letter said Mr. Kriege instructed the city's lawyer to contact Kenton County attorney Garry Edmondson about the criminal case his office was handling against the councilman, and perhaps influence the case. Mr. Porter believes that letter is the reason he was fired.

        “There's no doubt in my mind,” he said.

        Mr. Kriege and city attorney H. Lawson Walker could not be reached for comment.


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