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Published April 06 2010

Former Fargo Public Works Director Weigel appeals firing

Dismissed Fargo Public Works director Al Weigel gave notice Monday that he will appeal his March 26 firing, setting up a hearing next week before the city’s Civil Service Commission.

Weigel hand delivered the one-page notice to the human resources office at City Hall, beating the 4:30 p.m. deadline to appeal.

He will make his case to the five-member commission on April 13, barring any scheduling conflicts, city Human Resources Director Jill Minette said.

The panel will issue its findings and conclusion within 30 days of the hearing. If Weigel isn’t satisfied, he can appeal to the City Commission.

Weigel said Monday he won’t comment while the appeal is pending. He said he has talked to an attorney but hasn’t decided whether to hire one.

Weigel was placed on paid administrative leave on Feb. 24 after a public works employee alleged he violated the city’s purchasing policy.

A forensic accounting firm hired by the city to review the matter found that Weigel failed to obtain cost quotes for a global positioning system for city trucks and instead awarded what was essentially a no-bid contract to Epic Solutions of Fargo. Epic’s CEO and vice president are business partners with Weigel in Quad Investments, which owns the building that houses Epic.

The city paid Epic about $215,000 for the GPS system from 2007 to 2009.

The examiners’ report also said Weigel received a $2,000 personal loan from Epic’s vice president, used city resources to make copies of Epic’s business brochure and buy fuel for an Epic vehicle on a tradeshow trip, and accepted tickets to sporting events from Epic.

Weigel admitted to examiners that there could be an “appearance of impropriety,” but he denied any wrongdoing or violations of policy, the report stated.

He’ll now plead his case to the Civil Service Commission, which is appointed by the City Commission to make unbiased judgments in personnel matters.

The panel typically hears one or two appeals a year, although it didn’t hear any in 2009. The last appeal was in August 2008.

Current panel members are Paul Grindeland of the Fargo Senior Commission, Nancy Jordheim of Fargo Public Schools, chairman Michael Wenaas of Fisher Enterprises Inc., human resources consultant Jane Pettinger, and Bonnie Guttormson of Bobcat.

Weigel was hired by the city as a civil engineer in February 1993 and was appointed public works operations manager in October 2006 when former director Dennis Walaker retired to run for mayor. His annual salary was $95,520 when he was fired.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Mike Nowatzki at (701) 241-5528