The 2008 election prompted his exit and the 2016 election paved the way for the return of Wayne Eder to resume command of the Northern Arizona Consolidated Fire District (NACFD). Changes in the makeup of the governing board in both elections have spun the Eder merry-go-round.
The carnival continued during the March 22 special meeting of the NACFD governing board. Board Chairman Patty Lewis, Clerk Sue Wilkin and member Vic Riccardi overrode the will of minority board members Mike Collins and Jim Bailey, and the more than a dozen firefighters in attendance, by demoting interim Chief Tim King and replacing him with Eder.
The actions occurred as Wilkin read a series of pre-scripted motions into the record. The trio first returned King to his battalion chief position. A subsequent motion and 3-2 vote put Eder back on the job March 23.
Bailey and Collins complained that Eder’s previous administration of what was then called the Hualapai Valley Fire District was embroiled in one controversy after another. They said he left the district in a shambles and that Eder exited Arizona in poor standing.
“There is not a fire district or a fire department in this state that would touch Wayne Eder,” Bailey said. “He was such a disaster. He completely alienated this district from working with absolutely everybody.”
Several firefighters, in support of Bailey and Collins, unsuccessfully pleaded with the other board members not to bring Eder back.
“I just want to express my extreme disappointment in you guys,” said Captain Ed Eads.
“This is a fix, this is all fixed,” King said earlier in the meeting, echoing sentiments by others in attendance that the outcome of the meeting had been orchestrated in advance.
Collins asserted that Lewis and Wilkin prepared and posted the agenda. He also questioned the propriety of Eder’s visit the previous weekend to Lewis’ home.
“I had to see if he’d take the position,” Lewis said.
The Board had previously vigorously debated how to go about recruiting and hiring a chief, but had been at an impasse as to method. Collins deemed the Eder-Lewis huddle inappropriate at best.
Lewis said Eder is returning to help the District get a fulltime chief. By 3-2 vote, the Board decided two unnamed committee members would work with Eder to hire a new chief by May 1.
Critics believe that’s an insufficient time to conduct a legitimate search and that Eder’s “interim” label is a charade parade leading to his fulltime hiring.
Firefighters left the special meeting speaking of union involvement, possible recalls and exploring other avenues to reverse the Eder merry-go-round.