Two years before he was forced to “walk the plank” during an OS mutiny, a fire chief was planked in Arizona. Indeed, before asking, “Why did she fire him?,” it might be best to ask, “Why did she hire him?” On March 4, 2017, Dave Bathke — then fire chief in a rural district around Payson, Arizona — interviewed with Mayor Crystal Dingler for the vacant Ocean Shores Fire Chief position. The next month, the Hellsgate (yes, that’s a real name) Fire Department board placed Bathke on administrative leave. By June, Bathke took a payout package and resigned in Arizona — and started his job at the beach the next week.
A simple Google search shows local newspaper coverage of Bathke’s situation; did Dingler know about it? According to court documents in the lawsuit that orderd OS to pay Bathke $730,000, “As part of the hiring process Mayor Dingler asked that (OSFD) lieutenant Corey Kuhl conduct a background investigation regarding Bathke.” Kuhl later was one of the firefighter/mutineers who demanded Dingler fire Bathke; according to court documents, after a meeting with the mayor, he gave her a copy of various allegations against Bathke in “the Maple Valley letter” (which will be explored in a later post).
Did Kuhl have this during the hiring process, and did he provide it to Dingler? Did he know about the Arizona situation? According to an April 21, 2017 story in the Payson Roundup, “The district’s fire board recently put Fire Chief Dave Bathke on paid non-disciplinary leave and ordered an internal investigation due to undisclosed issues.”