City manager to firefighter: Stay away from city council members

City manager to firefighter: Stay away from city council members
Ron Carlee (Source:
Ron Carlee (Source:

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - Charlotte's city manager is warning a Charlotte firefighter to stay away from members of the Charlotte City Council or he could be fired.

WBTV obtained a confidential memo sent to Charlotte firefighter Marty Puckett from city manager Ron Carlee. The memo warns that Puckett, who was purportedly working as unpaid intern for council representative Claire Fallon, was violating the city's charter with the position that was a "conflict of interest and not permitted."

Puckett is also the vice president of the Firefighters Association in Charlotte.

According to the confidential memo, Puckett has been warned since November about his role with Fallon. The letter comes just days after Puckett sent out a letter on behalf of Fallon asking that Charlotte Fire Chief Jon Hannan be relieved of his duties.

Fallon is a longtime critic of Hannan.

On March 3, Puckett reportedly sent an email to the mayor and members of city council from his personal email address with the subject line "From the Desk of Claire Fallon."

WEB DOCUMENT: Read the letter from Fallon to the council

The email, also obtained by WBTV, called for the firing of Chief Hannan to "restore the morale" at the fire department and "instill transparency" following the controversial firing of former Charlotte Fire Investigator Crystal Eschert.

City officials fired Eschert in September, claiming she violated the city's social media policy with an offensive Facebook post about Ferguson, Missouri.

Eschert says she was fired when she blew the whistle about what she claimed were unhealthy conditions at a fire department building - specifically mold in the remodeled building on North Graham Street that houses several Charlotte Fire Department units.

The investigation into Eschert's firing, referred to as Van Laningham Report after its author, Allison Van Laningham, concluded that there was no conclusive evidence that Eschert's firing was retaliation. Van Laningham did not dismiss the possibility either.

A WBTV investigation shows the city of Charlotte paid roughly $304,000 for two investigations into the Charlotte Fire Department - the Van Laningham Report and a second consultant to review the Fire Department's management system and discipline process.

In the email sent by Puckett on behalf of Fallon, Fallon questions why a recommendation from the Department of Labor to settle the Eschert case was not brought to the council.

"We are paying at $300 per hour to an attorney who at the same time supposedly is the City's consulting attorney and also defends Chief Jon Hannan. This is a conflict. Why?" Fallon wrote. "This case is full of lies and deceit perpetuated by the City Administration. I have warned everyone about this before, and if we allow this to continue, we are responsible. It is time for the Chief to leave."

Carlee's confidential memo to Puckett is dated March 4, 2016. In the memo, Carlee says Puckett's email to council on behalf of Fallon "contained personnel material and also called for your department director to leave."

WEB DOCUMENT: Read the confidential memo from Carlee to Puckett

Carlee says the email is a violation of the City Charter and called it "unacceptable," saying it "must cease."

The letter goes on to say Puckett must change his behavior or he could be dismissed from his job.

"Your Department Director is copied on this communication and is hereby directed to ensure that your direct supervisor holds you accountable for complying with this directive and with all other City and Departmental regulations," Carlee wrote. "Failure to do so may result in disciplinary action, up to and including dismissal.

Chief Hannan and Charlotte city attorney Bob Hagemann were included on the memo. Hagemann declined to comment to WBTV, citing it was a "personnel issue."

WBTV has learned that Puckett will face a chain of command review Thursday.

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