O.B. releases Rose separation agreement

Town agrees to give embattled fire chief a lump sum of half a year’s salary.

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Former Fire Chief John Rose, shown here at the dedication of the new fire station, is on paid leave until his retirement kicks in on April 30. He's also receiving a lump sum of half his annual salary. - Sam Moore

Fire Chief John Rose resigned last week, but is on paid leave, according to the settlement agreement he reached with the town of Oak Bluffs. He’ll be paid his weekly salary until his retirement is effective April 30.

The town has also agreed to pay $65,882.70 in a lump sum to Rose, according to the separation agreement with the town. That amounts to half a year’s pay, because Rose was earning $131,736 at the time of his resignation.

The Times received a copy of the settlement through a public records request.

In addition to the lump sum payment, Rose will also be entitled to his full retirement benefits, and may elect to continue his current health care coverage with the town’s group plan for a period of 18 months beginning on May 1, 2020.

Rose also agrees to “cooperate with the town in any matter arising during the period of his employment with the town, and he will be compensated at the rate of $63.09 per hour, plus any reasonable expenses related to his cooperation.”

The agreement also stipulates that neither the town nor Rose admit to any wrongdoing.

In his resignation letter to town administrator Robert Whritenour, Rose thanked his staff and volunteers. “I would like to thank all of my staff, as well as all of the incredibly dedicated volunteer firemen, EMTs, Police Officers, and other public safety officials that I have worked with during my 30-plus years with the Oak Bluffs Fire Department and EMS department,” Rose wrote. “I am sure that the department is in capable and professional hands as I depart. Thank you all for the privilege of working with you.”

Rose resigned from the department on Friday, Jan. 31, with the town issuing a statement.

“Chief John Rose and the Oak Bluffs Board of Selectmen have mutually agreed to part ways so that the Fire Department and EMS Services can begin their next chapter,” the town wrote in a statement. “Chief Rose has submitted his resignation and retirement effective April 30, 2020. The Town will start the process of finding a replacement in the interim. The chief has also agreed to assist in any transition, if requested.”

Rose’s departure came after a dramatic meeting of the board of selectmen where the board released a statement about the chief, disclosed he had been suspended previously for 21 days, acknowledged an ongoing FBI investigation, and released executive session minutes that showed a divide among board members about Rose and his ability to lead the fire department.

As the new year began, the town confirmed it had settled a $97,500 lawsuit with Cynthia Hatt, a former fire department employee who accused Rose of making sexual advances and then retaliating against her when she rejected them. In exchange for the payment, Hatt withdrew a complaint before the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination, and a lawsuit she filed in Barnstable Superior Court.

In both, Hatt disclosed that she had a consensual relationship with Rose. After a breakup, she alleges, Rose persisted in his pursuit of her, and took away overtime in retaliation.

The FBI and a grand jury are looking into the fire department’s ambulance billing. In October, the town revealed that it had overcharged Medicare and Medicaid by $37,505.

With Rose gone, there remains turmoil within the department. Deputy Fire Chief Shawn Broadley sent selectmen a letter announcing his intention to retire effective Feb. 17. That letter details the chaos inside the department, though selectmen chairman Brian Packish says the staff of the department stands ready to meet any emergency.

8 COMMENTS

  1. If he resigned he is lucky to get 6 months. If they fired him not for cause he could have gotten 2 years. Dont know what his contract is or was but town got off easy. Rose should have demanded more. Because he was earlier suspended and then re instated after they paid the lady, he has a strong case for more. Sometimes people are fired but ask to resign to avoid complications and publicity and when that happens he gets more. If he simply resigned at will he hurt himself. After 30 years service he should get two years severance. Wouldn’t be surprised if he later works as an independent contractor for 63 dollars an hour on a 1099 basis.

      • Definitely not the same planet you’re on, where you think a man who sacrificed 30 years of his life, subjected himself to horrible tragedy’s, helped save tons of lives, Rarely ever took a sick or personal day, is a tremendously talented medic and fire fighter, has helped teach so many of our other paramedics and fire fighters around the island, pushed for the best pay for his employees, pushed to get that beautiful new fire station built for our town, has lead the fireworks year after year without fail, flown with coast guard in dangerous weather to get members of our community safely to a hospital when there were no other means of getting them there, helped create the transport business so that our sick family and friends could safely be transported to hospitals for better medical care, lead emergency management, SHOULD WALK AWAY WITH NOTHING?!?!!! Because of one sexual harassment “claim” and “allegation” that was dropped because it didn’t have a leg to stand on. You my friend are the one from a different planet.

        • What a shame that he put all that on the line by his actions. He threw it all away. Stop blaming everyone and every thing, including this newspaper for reporting on it. He’s lucky he’s getting his full retirement benefits.

  2. Excellent work, Whritenour, now all current Oak Bluffs employeees who breach their contract can be assured of at least a $63,000 payoff. The full benefits thing is great as well.
    I guess instead pressing forward a claim against Rose for the full costs of this investigation was too much to contemplate?

    • What contract are you referring to? As far as I know the Chief was not a contracted employee. And the cost of what investigation? Please don’t spread misinformation. Thanks.

  3. R u kidding me??!!
    This is where my hard earned money and taxes r going?!
    The Island aint what it used to be and that didnt take long…
    This is insane and all sounds very familiar no?

  4. We didn’t start the fire
    It was always burning
    Since the world’s been turning
    We didn’t start the fire
    But when we are gone
    Will it still burn on, and on, and on, and on????

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