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Fire Chief Cobb’s job fate remains in limbo

For about six weeks, Fire Chief Ralph Cobb has been on administrative leave from Madison Fire & Rescue Department. RECORD PHOTOS/JFD DESIGN & PHOTOGRAPHY
For about six weeks, Fire Chief Ralph Cobb has been on administrative leave from Madison Fire & Rescue Department. RECORD PHOTOS/JFD DESIGN & PHOTOGRAPHY

MADISON – After about six weeks, Fire Chief Ralph Cobb is still waiting for a decision about his job with Madison Fire & Rescue Department.

Mayor Troy Trulock placed on Cobb on administrative leave on April 15 after a complaint was filed that claimed age discrimination during a class, “Generational Differences.” Cobb taught the class in early 2016.

On May 23, “The Madison Record” asked Cobb for an update about his situation. “I haven’t heard a word since last time we communicated,” Cobb said. Cobb was referring to a dialogue with the newspaper on April 22 when he stated, “I’m confident I’ll be back behind my desk in a few days.”

The city’s human resources (HR) department and the mayor have authority to decide about repercussions from the complaint against Cobb. City Council is not privy to that confidential information. When HR and Trulock make a decision, the matter will go to City Council for final action.

At Madison City Council’s meeting on May 24, District 5 Councilman Tommy Overcash asked City Attorney Kelly Butler and the mayor “for a time frame” about a decision on Cobb’s leave.

“We’d like to say it will be resolved in a month or six months,” Overcash said. “Three city employees (Cobb, Police Chief Larry Muncey and Officer Eric Parker) are on administrative leave, and that’s all we know as a council.”

“This is a personnel issue and a legal issue, and I have no comment,” Trulock said. Overcash again asked for a time frame, and Trulock repeated, “This is a personnel issue and a legal issue, and I have no comment.”

District 7 Councilwoman Ronica Ondocsin then pointed out that residents do not believe council members when they say they do not know any details. “The public keeps asking questions and doesn’t believe that (the council) is being truthful,” Ondocsin said.

“There is a lot of curiosity, but didn’t curiosity kill the cat?” Trulock said.

Trulock did not respond to a request from “The Madison Record” for an update on Cobb’s situation.

In early 2016 before teaching the class, Cobb said he had submitted contents of the “Generational Differences” class to Trulock and emailed about the course and individuals who would attend.

In Cobb’s absence, Deputy Chief Cary Sadler is acting chief for the fire department.

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