East Naples fire officials face another allegation of Sunshine Law violations from Chris Tobin, the president of the Collier Professional Firefighters and Paramedics Union.
In a complaint filed with the Florida Commission on Ethics, Tobin charges that Fire Commissioner Thomas Cannon inappropriately held a private meeting with East Naples Fire Chief Keith Teague and another firefighter who was accepting a “buy-out” package. Tobin charges that firefighter was offered additional taxpayer money in incentives “behind closed doors,” and any discussion about incentives should have been held in public.
The Collier Professional Firefighters and Paramedics union represents Golden Gate and East Naples firefighters.
The complaint is one of several made by Tobin against East Naples fire officials as the union and the district negotiate a new collective bargaining agreement.
Teague calls the complaint “a complete fabrication.” He says that while the firefighter did take a buy-out package — which he argues will save the fire district in the long-run — nothing unethical or improper occurred. He said Cannon was not present for the buy-out discussions between administration and firefighters.
Both Tobin and fire district officials have acknowledged the fire agency is facing serious budget shortfalls in the coming year.
Cannon and Teague have dismissed these complaints as union negotiation tactics to distract the public and force the district to dish out taxpayer money to cover legal fees.
Fire officials still have not heard back from another Sunshine Law complaint Tobin lodged in May, Teague said.