Bearden-Bathke vs. OS: The city responds, “an extraordinarly vengeful person”

The North Beach News asked Mayor Crystal Dingler for comment on the merits of the explosive Travis Bearden lawsuit–which claims that not only did the city deny him his right to military service leave time and “attempted to find a legal method to terminate his employment due to his military obligations” — it also did nothing to stop a conspiracy by fellow firefighters to harass and bully Bearden. The lawsuit claims “Dingler engaged in a diabolical scheme to destroy Mr. Bearden’s fire-fighting career,” offering as support an affidavit from David Bathke, the former fire chief who was fired by Dingler. According to Bathke’s testimony, “Captain Mike Thuirer, Captain Matt Krick, Lt Corey Kuhl, Lt. Joe Hoffman, and FF Cody Plantcich on separate occasions stated to me that they were going to make Travis Bearden’s life at the fire station ‘Living Hell’ and they were going to bully Travis to resign as Union President.

Acknowledging that Dingler — listed as an individual defendant, in addition to the city — may not be at liberty to share her views, pre-trial (scheduled for March 1, 2022), the North Beach News asked if so, “can you refer me to an attorney or representative who would be able to?”

Within hours, Elizabeth A. McIntyre, an attorney who represented the city against Bathke and is named several times in Bathke’s affidavit, (for example, “Attorney Mcintyre stated to me that her husband had been in that same reserve unit and she would see what “dirt” she could dig up on Travis.”), responded with a lengthy email.

Bathke was lying, McIntyre flatly stated. (entire email below)

In a second email, McIntrye did not sugar coat her opinion of the fired fire chief:

“Mr. Bathke is an extraordinarily vengeful person who will strike out against those he believes have wronged him in some way. I have been the brunt of his attacks in the past; as have members of the department. It’s notable that most of the people he identifies by name in this purported affidavit are those who testified against him in his recent lawsuit. That is not coincidental.”

The attorney vigorously defends the city, Dingler and herself, denying the Bearden/Bathke claims.

Regarding the comments the firefighters Bathke alleges were made, I asked the attorney: “Is there any record of Mr. Bathke reporting to you, human resources or anyone else the allegations about the five firefighters? 

“If, indeed, any employee threatened to ‘bully’ another employee, what is the standard protocol for the supervisor?”

The entire emails — if you would like to see it as an email, to save a public records request, simply email tom@thenorthbeachnews.com.

First email, received at 10:16 p.m. July 28:

“Hello Mr. Scanlon,

Mayor Dingler forwarded to me your email to her regarding the lawsuit filed by Travis Bearden and asked that I respond to you.  With respect to your question about the involvement of the City’s liability insurer—the City is a member of a self-insured government risk pool called the Washington Cities Insurance Authority and they are providing for the defense of the City in Lt. Bearden’s action.

With respect to the “merits” of that suit, Lt. Bearden made it clear at his deposition yesterday that he his claim against the city is based primarily on its denial of payment for 21 days of military leave in the fall of 2020; and that this was what prompted him to file suit against the city. His claim relies on RCW 38.40.060 which provides public employees up to 21 days of paid military leave per year (with the “year” running from October 1 to September 30) for required military training, duty, or drills. The leave is utilized only for days in which an employee is scheduled to work according to the statute. When Lt. Bearden began his extended military leave in the fall of 2019, he utilized 21 days of paid military leave and his available accrued leave and Kelly days to remain on a paid status into approximately late January or early February 2020 after which he was placed on an unpaid military leave status. When October 1, 2020 came around, Lt. Bearden asked that the city provide him with 21 days of paid military leave; but because he had not returned from military leave, he was not “scheduled to work” under the paid military leave statute and thus no leave could be paid. Of course, as soon as Lt. Bearden returns to employment with the City, he will be provided paid military leave in accordance with the statute whenever  he is required to miss a scheduled work day for military training, duty, or drills. In short, we do not believe this claim to be valid.

You may also be aware that Lt. Bearden filed a motion yesterday seeking to amend his complaint to add a claim against Mayor Dingler directly. This motion quotes what purports to be an affidavit of former fire chief David Bathke that accuses Mayor Dingler and others (including me, apparently) of being resentful and trying to “dig up dirt” on Lt. Bearden. I do  not know  if David Bathke ever actually signed a declaration as claimed in this motion; but if he stated the things that are attributed to me; they are complete and total lies. He claims that I told him that my husband and Lt. Bearden were in the same “reserve” unit and that I would use that information to get “dirt” on Lt. Bearden. My husband was never in the reserves; he was in the National Guard—but I guess I can understand how someone like Mr. Bathke—with no military experience—wouldn’t appreciate that distinction. More importantly, my husband retired from the National Guard in approximately December 2008—after returning from serving over a year in the Iraq war. This was about 5 years before Lt. Bearden joined the Army reserves; and 9 years before he joined the National Guard. The only thing I ever told Bathke about my husband was that he flew Black Hawks in the National Guard. Lt. Bearden happened to be in a Black Hawk unit (I have no idea which unit). For Bathke to now claim that I volunteered to use my husband to get dirt on Lt Bearden is absurd and doesn’t comport with the actual facts.

I also know that he is lying about the others. Mayor Dingler was not involved with the decisions and communications with Bathke regarding Lt. Bearden’s use of leave. Bathke dealt with the Finance Director and the deputy clerk at the time, Rachel Carl. I know this because I was asked to provide assistance from time to time; and Mayor Dingler was not a part of those communications.  And if there was ever anyone at the city who expressed any kind of frustration or aggravation with Lt. Bearden’s service, it was only fire chief Bathke. And even he did not suggest that Lt. Bearden should be fired or disciplined.

I know that Mayor Dingler honors and reveres those who serve in the military. Her own husband is a retired service member.  I too have the deepest respect for those who serve our country in the armed forces. My father was a career Air Force Pilot which included service in the Viet Nam war.  As mentioned before my husband is a retired Black Hawk pilot, and in fact we were married in August 1990 in a little courtroom in El Paso just days before his unit at Ft. Bliss was sent over to Desert Storm/Shield. For Lt. Bearden or Mr. Bathke to suggest that any members of the fire department were resentful of Lt. Bearden because of his military service is deeply offensive.

Please let me know if you have any further questions.

Elizabeth A. McIntyre

Law, Lyman, Daniel, Kamerrer & Bogdanovich, PS

P.O. Box 11880

Olympia, WA 98508-1880

Ph (360) 754-3480 ext. 106

Direct Line: (360) 764-7731

Fax (360) 357-3511

http://www.lldkb.com

Second McIntyre email, 11:55 a.m. July 29:

“Hello Ms. Scanlon: (Editor’s note: ahem!)

Following up from this discussion yesterday, I went back and reviewed the emails that I have on my computer from and to Mr. Bathke during the time that he served as fire chief. (I had these as part of the litigation that recently concluded in his separate lawsuits against both the City and one of its fire captains). I found no indication that Mr. Bathke ever reported to anyone these instances of harassment or hostile treatment that were supposedly occurring under his watch. As you correctly note in your email yesterday, it would have been his responsibility as fire chief to address such actions if, in fact, his OSFD personnel were mistreating another member of the department. If this was happening and he did nothing; then he failed in his duties as fire chief.

I can tell you that I am not aware of anyone at the City (including Mr. Bathke) who was ever hostile toward Lt. Bearden because he was missing work because of military duty or training. Without revealing the content of confidential attorney-client communications with the City, the issue had more to do with the City’s efforts to obtain documentation from Lt. Bearden to show that his time off was for military training or drills. This was an issue that the State Auditor’s office had addressed with the city given that the payment of paid military leave is an expenditure of public funds. Chief Bathke properly requested that Lt. Bearden submit documentation of his use of military leave, and there were occasions in which Lt. Bearden pushed back on those requests. Notably, these discussions did not involve the Mayor; but rather involved members of finance staff and Chief Bathke.  I am attaching several emails in and around March 2018 when such discussions were occurring so that you can see for yourself what the issues were between the City and Lt. Bearden. I want to stress that I am not criticizing Chief Bathke’s conduct as it relates to this issue; but to the extent that he is now trying to hold himself up as a champion for Lt. Bearden against the harassing and hostile treatment of other city employees, it simply is not true.

Finally, I want to point out that I do not know that Bathke ever actually signed an affidavit as described in the motion that was filed in Lt. Bearden’s lawsuit yesterday as no such affidavit has been filed or provided yet. But if he did, it is a regrettable reflection of Mr. Bathke’s innate vindictiveness rather than a credible statement of facts. I have unfortunately had to learn firsthand that Mr. Bathke is an extraordinarily vengeful person who will strike out against those he believes have wronged him in some way. I have been the brunt of his attacks in the past; as have members of the department. It’s notable that most of the people he identifies by name in this purported affidavit are those who testified against him in his recent lawsuit. That is not coincidental.

Please let me know if you have any questions.

Beth

Elizabeth A. McIntyre

Law, Lyman, Daniel, Kamerrer & Bogdanovich, PS

P.O. Box 11880

Olympia, WA 98508-1880

Ph (360) 754-3480 ext. 106

Direct Line: (360) 764-7731

Fax (360) 357-3511

www.lldkb.com

Leave a Comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s