When is a Demotion not a Demotion

When is a demotion not a demotion? That is the question for the Tulsa city council to decide when it handles the case of Chief Jeremy Moore perhaps as soon as this evening.

One day Chief Moore was the Administrative Chief making $94,011, and the next he was a District Chief making $81,654.

The fire department administration’s position is that it was not a demotion at all but a lateral transfer made at the direction of newly appointed Fire Chief Ray Driskell. Probably not coincidentally, Chief Moore and Chief Driskell were among 5 candidates vying for the fire chief’s position and Chief Driskell was selected.

According to Chief Moore’s attorney, Joel LaCourse, “If that is not a demotion, I’m not sure what is.” The transfer was ordered on November 7. On November 16, LaCourse filed a demand for a hearing before the city council as permitted by the city charter.

The council will be considering the matter this evening, but it is unclear if they will reach the merits of the case or if they will be trying to decide on the procedure to be used for the hearing.

Here is a copy of one of the letters that Chief Moore’s attorney sent to the council explaining their argument. 2012.11.28 Letter to City Supplement

More on the story.

About Curt Varone

Curt Varone has over 40 years of fire service experience and 30 as a practicing attorney licensed in both Rhode Island and Maine. His background includes 29 years as a career firefighter in Providence (retiring as a Deputy Assistant Chief), as well as volunteer and paid on call experience. He is the author of two books: Legal Considerations for Fire and Emergency Services, (2006, 2nd ed. 2011, 3rd ed. 2014) and Fire Officer’s Legal Handbook (2007), and is a contributing editor for Firehouse Magazine writing the Fire Law column.

  • Andrew

    You know, for months, I’ve been reading your pieces and trying to figure out why I kept having feelings of deja vu, till I read the first paragraph of this one, when it hit me: your style is quite similar to that of Neil Chayette, who did (does?) the CBS radio feature “Looking at the Law” which I think originates in Boston.

    Now, of course, I have this mental image of you and Chayette doing a call-in or something on emergency services legal issues.

    THAT would be something to hear!

    • Andrew

      I never heard of him but if he’s from Boston his accent is probably fairly close to mine… enough so we could understand each other.

      And I would never do a call-in show without my fellow firefighter lawyers – Chip Comstock, Brad Pinsky and John Murphy – the Fire Service Court.

      … unless of course the money was right…..

      • Andrew

        Looked him up, and it appears he’s still on. WBZ Boston, 1030 AM, at 2:40 PM and 6:55 PM. Some really good, thought-provoking (and some downright ridiculous) cases. His website is (not surprisingly) http://www.LookingAtTheLaw.com.


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