Fired Scottsdale Police Chief Doug Bartosh filed a letter of claim Monday against the city and personally against the city manager, seeking a combined $5.5 million for damages, wrongful termination and violation of his First Amendment right to free speech.
The 15-page document tells of Bartosh’s woes wanting to publicly speak out about a critical independent audit of his department, and to send two sets of letters to newspapers. City Manager Jan Dolan denied his requests.
Dolan could not be reached for comment.
City Attorney David Pennartz said Scottsdale hired an outside law firm to handle the case because city employees may be called as witnesses in court. The attorney handling the case, Bradley Gardner of the Mesa firm Udall Shumway & Lyons, could not be reached for comment.
"We have looked at the issues involved here and we anticipate defending the claim,” Pennartz said. "We’ll be representing Jan Dolan in her official capacity.”
Bartosh worked for the city for 11 years.
Dolan fired him on Jan. 21, when she cited shortfalls in the police department's technology, his lack of communication with the public and department employees, and his “lack of enthusiasm’’ to make changes suggested by Berkshire Advisors, an independent management consulting firm hired to conduct a performance review for nearly $100,000.
Dolan also mentioned the chief's purchase of a specific take-home vehicle and lack of management controls regarding the police vehicle fleet as evidence of poor judgement.
In the claim, Bartosh, 49, asks for $4.5 million from the city for lost wages and benefits, losses related to his Public Safety Personnel Retirement funds and future earnings, as well as harm to his reputation, humiliation, embarrassment and deprivation of his constitutional rights.
He is seeking $1 million in punitive damages from Dolan personally for the "evil and reckless manner in which she deprived him of his civil rights and his livelihood.’’ If the requests cannot be settled within 60 days, a lawsuit will be filed, according to Bartosh’s attorney, Edward Novak, of Quarles & Brady/StreichLang.
"She had no regard for me professionally and really, severely, I think set about trying to damage my career and my reputation,’’ Bartosh said Monday.
After the Berkshire report was published, Dolan, Bartosh and Neal Shearer, human resources director, met and discussed its poor quality, the claim states.
"Ms. Dolan acknowledged that because the audit process lacked integrity, she doubted the significance of many of its recommendations,’’ according to the claim.
Dolan also made the decision to select Berkshire, despite Bartosh's input that two police departments in California were not satisfied with the firm, Bartosh said.
According to the claim, the chronology of events includes:
• Aug. 1, 2002 — Based on the recommendations of Marion Murray and Phil Vickers, residents and members of the 2002 citizen budget committee, Dolan hired an outside consultant to review the police department. Murray and Vickers both have been pursued by Scottsdale police in the past and Bartosh objected to them serving on the group.
• April 1, 2002: Dolan and Shearer meet to discuss the Berkshire report and agreed that it was a ‘‘poor product.’’
• June 10, 2002: The City Council requested a public presentation of the audit. Dolan instructed Bartosh that she would answer all questions.
• Oct. 15, 2002: Shearer had breakfast with Bartosh and told him to leave his job.
Bartosh wrote letters to the editors of the newspapers and e-mailed copies to Dolan. She denied him permission to send them.
• Oct. 17, 2002: Dolan had a meeting with Bartosh. She said leaving his position quietly would be in his best interest and offered to "negotiate a departure package for his silence."
• Jan. 14, 2003: Again, Bartosh prepared letters to the editors about an internal vehicle audit and sent them to Dolan for permission. She again denied his request.
"It was clearly her mission to cover up the fact that this was a flawed report, that the process was flawed,'' Bartosh said. “They didn’t get their money's worth. . .She spent $100,000 of taxpayers’ money and didn’t get a very good product. It shows an extreme amount of mismanagement on her part, but I ended up taking the fall for it.’’