The Mills town council told Fire Chief Ron Schindler to resign at this morning's council meeting, giving him the option to step down instead of being fired tonight.

Schindler said he was "a little" disappointed in the council's vote and said he would decide whether to resign "shortly," but wouldn't put a timeline on his decision.

Schindler's job performance has been questioned by council members for the past few months since hearing of a "no-confidence" vote taken by firefighters under Schindler's command. Nineteen firefighters signed the vote and then aired the department's dirty laundry at a council meeting in May.

At the time, firefighters in the department threatened to resign if Schindler wasn't terminated, citing poor leadership skills and a tendency to play computer games at work.

The council earlier this year voted 3-2 to let Schindler stay as the town's fire chief after hearing from some of the firefighters. But on Friday, Schindler fired Capt. Trevor Evans for speaking to the town council - one of eight listed causes for termination.

The town council this morning reversed Evans' termination by sending the matter back to the fire department at the advice of the town's attorney, Rob Hand, who told members in an abbreviated closed-door session that the chief didn't follow proper protocol when he fired Evans.

Though Evans is still a fire department employee, Schindler could try to fire him again. Evans said he would appeal to council if he was fired again.

"I'm sure he could [fire me]," Evans said. "Everybody's concerned about losing their job if their boss is threatening them but I have faith in the council to see that's not correct."

The three members who asked for Schindler's resignation said if he didn't resign before tonight's meeting, they would move to have him fired.

Council members Elsie Herbort and Rosie Coleman both voted to remove Schindler in June. They both voted to ask for Schindler's resignation this morning.

"I felt like he ought to be terminated, period. They all know that. If he wants to resign, that's fine with me. I don't think he has an option," Herbort said. "I will make that motion tonight to terminate him if he does not tell us that he's going to resign."

Vince Gargiulo was the key vote. He voted to reinstate Schindler as fire chief when the matter last came before council two months ago but asked for his resignation this morning.

In June, the council voted to let the fire department settle matters in-house and told Schindler to seek a mediator. He didn't do that, though, and Gargiulo said he was disappointed that Schindler didn't do what he said he was going to do.

This time, Gargiulo voted to ask for Schindler's resignation. Gargiulo repeatedly told Schindler during this morning's council meeting his primary reason for asking for his resignation was the fact that he had more than a month to seek a mediator and as of their last meeting, had not done so.

Reach city reporter Pete Nickeas at (307) 266-0639 or pete.nickeas@trib.com. You can read his blog at http://tribtown.trib.com/redtape">http://tribtown.trib.com/redtape.

Council: Quit or be fired

By Daniel Craig

Star-Tribune videographer

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