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Former Rochester fire chief Kapler resigns from California job

A former Rochester fire chief is out of a job amid alleged ethical violations at his latest post in Alameda, Calif.

According to an Alameda news report, David Kapler, Rochester's fire chief for 14 years ending in 2007, resigned Friday but plans to legally challenge the city in order to receive a lifetime medical benefit his attorney says was specified in Kapler's employment contract. The newspaper reports that Kapler's attorney wrote that the city’s human resources director, Karen Willis, informed Kapler that his retiree health benefits were never approved by the city council. The city’s charter gives the council the right to approve or reject the benefits.

Kapler's attorney intends to sue the city for lost wages and retirement benefits, emotional distress and attorney’s fees if a settlement agreement isn’t approved, the newspaper said.

The report was published in The Island, which covers Alameda, a city of 72,000 in the San Francisco Bay area.

Kapler took the California job upon retiring from his job in Rochester. By doing so, he intended to sweeten his eventual retirement benefits in that state.


Kapler is accused of using city gasoline for a personal vehicle, a BMW convertible. He had been on administrative leave since Sept. 2, when questions were raised about the gasoline use.

Kapler's attorney said, in a letter to the city quoted in the newspaper report, that the allegations "have been blown out of proportion and are the result of a misunderstanding" concerning an agreement between Kapler and a past city manager giving him personal use of city gas.

Kapler's tenure in Rochester includes a hiring decision challenged as discriminatory by two unsuccessful applicants. The Rochester case recently was heard by an 11-judge panel at the U.S. Court of Appeals in St. Paul, which is weighing whether to uphold an Olmsted District Court ruling dismissing the case or to order a full trial in district court. A ruling is expected next year.

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