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Police turn down request for presence at fire district meetings

Trustee alleges meeting attendee poses threat

Attorney Karl Ottosen (left) talks with Harvard Fire Protection District board Trustee Joe Clarke during a meeting Tuesday at the Harvard fire station.
Attorney Karl Ottosen (left) talks with Harvard Fire Protection District board Trustee Joe Clarke during a meeting Tuesday at the Harvard fire station.

A request for police presence at Harvard Fire Protection District board meetings after a trustee’s concerns that a meeting attendee poses a threat of “going postal” was turned down, Harvard Police Chief Mark Krause said.

In November, Harvard Fire Chief Steve Harter and Deputy Chief Don Davidson were suspended for 36 hours based on a letter they sent to board President Thomas Condon in June calling the conduct of Trustee Joe Clarke “unprofessional” and “hostile.”

During December’s board meeting, former Harvard firefighter Don Carlson said he was extremely disappointed in the board, particularly Clarke, whose bullying is destroying the reputation and confidence in the fire protection district chiefs and staff.

“Joe, can you imagine a trustee who’s supposed to be a leader in the district being ineffective and unapproachable because they are such an [expletive] they can’t even be in a building when an administrative assistant is being there because of hostile work conditions?” Carlson asked.

Several fire chiefs, including Marengo Chief Bob Bradbury and Woodstock Chief Michael Hill, also spoke during the meeting in defense of Harter’s and Davidson’s character and service.

In a memo dated Jan. 2 to McHenry County Board Chairman Jack Franks, Krause and attorney David McArdle, Clarke wrote that Carlson has distorted the facts, forced his son to resign from the district and has reviewed personnel files from his 31 years of service with the village of Arlington Heights.

“Mr. Carlson’s actions have gone far beyond what a rational citizen would do in questioning a public official,” Clarke wrote in the memo.

In conclusion, Clarke said in the letter that he believes Carlson carries a concealed firearm during meetings and that he poses a threat of “going postal.” Therefore, he recommended board president Thomas Condon formally request the assistance of the Harvard Police Department in maintaining order and security at meetings.

“A uniformed police officer is better suited to silence and remove Mr. Carlson from the meeting room should he have another outburst of behavior,” Clarke wrote.

Krause said he and Condon reviewed the memo and agreed the fire protection district is not interested in having a law enforcement presence at meetings.

Carlson said in an email to the Northwest Herald that he was surprised and appalled to be accused of being a threat, and his attendance at meetings was to express his feelings about a trustee he feels is a bully.

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