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Fire district flap flares up over half hour of OT pay
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LATHROP – It may not turn out to be as expensive and as laboriously long as the City of Lathrop’s Matt Browne case, but a personnel issue involving the demotion of a 15-year fire captain with the Lathrop-Manteca Fire District is also being reviewed by an administrative law judge.

The captain in question is Ron Pinnelli who has hired the same San Francisco public employment attorney Ellen Mendelson who successfully fought to have Browne re-instated to his position as chief building official after being fired by former Lathrop City Manager Yvonne Quiring nearly two years ago. Mendelson said Pinelli is being charged with “telling” an “underling” to put in a half-hour of overtime in his time card.

Pinnelli actually simply “suggested” that the “underling” put in the overtime, Mendelson said.

No other details surrounding that half-hour overtime were made available by fire district officials. Fred Manding, who was recently appointed permanent fire chief after holding the post on an interim capacity for several months, declined to say any other details related to the case.

“That’s personnel. Our (fire district) attorney is handling that now. There are legal issues that I can’t talk about right now,” Manding said.

Telephone calls and messages left for Lodi attorney Tom Driscol who represents the fire district were not returned.

Mendelson said the charges made against Pinnelli resulted in his demotion from fire captain to fire engineer, plus penalties that included 10 days off without pay and no vacation in one year.

“They stripped him of his seniority,” she said.

As in the Browne case, Mendelson is asking for the re-instatement of Pinnelli to his captain position plus back pay.

“They can’t punish him for suggesting somebody to put in overtime,” Mendelson said.

The fire personnel who put in the half-hour overtime was paid by the district for that extra time reported, she added.