Accused Seattle fire lieutenant resigns

Accused Seattle fire lieutenant resigns »Play Video
SEATTLE -- The fire lieutenant accused of abusing his power while performing his duties at Qwest Field has resigned.

According to the Office of the Mayor, Milton Footer, who was facing serious disciplinary actions, chose to resign on Tuesday.

After an investigation by the Seattle Ethics and Elections Commission, it was determined Footer had violated the city's Ethics Code by taking free passes for a concert and failing to bill First & Goal for fire guard services at Qwest Field. A further review by the Mayor's Office found that Footer received three free monthly parking passes at Qwest Field, violating the city's ethics code.

Mayor Greg Nickels on Wednesday signed a letter of reprimand to Fire Chief Gregory Dean, stating the chief failed to adequately respond to billing and other problems in the Fire Marshall's Office.

"This type of behavior is unacceptable - period," Nickels said in a statement.

In response, Dean said he respected the mayor's decision and accepted the reprimand.

"I should have recognized the full scope of the issues and taken immediate action to resolve them. I also understand the impact on public confidence in the integrity of the department," Dean wrote in a statement. "I have learned from this experience and believe I will be a better leader and fire chief because of it."

Allegations of misconduct against Footer surfaced after a whistle blower filed a petition against the fire chief. Battalion Chief James Woodbury filed the petition in Superior Court in March.

Woodbury, who said he was retaliated against for making allegations against Footer, had filed a complaint with the Seattle Elections and Ethics Commission last September, accusing Footer of abusing his power.

An ensuing investigation by the ethics commission found that Footer, who has been handling all the fire marshal duties for Qwest Field and the Qwest Field Event Center since 2002, had "grossly wasted public funds."

The report stated Footer failed to bill First & Goal, a Paul Allen company which operates Qwest Field, $195,679 to pay for firefighters who work overtime during Seahawks games to ensure public safety.

The investigation also concluded Footer misused his official position by allegedly strong-arming Key Arena personnel to get an extra backstage pass for his fiance to a sold-out Hannah Montana concert.

According to the commission's report, when firefighters asked the chief to step in over the years, Dean's answers varied and included accusations that they were "out to get Milt."

In its report, the commission called Seattle Fire Department's response "unsatisfactory," saying the "potential for misconduct is extremely high."

In April, Nickels, stating, "I will not tolerate unethical behavior," announced several changes in the way the city does business.

Last month the city and First & Goal reached a settlement over the billing issue involving Footer. The city received $122,064 of the $195,679 it had previously charged the company, agreeing that Footer failed to bill First and Goal in a timely manner which caused the company to incur losses from third parties.

Footer had served in the Fire Department for 29 years. His salary was $98,532.