The many loves of Bonnie Bleskachek: So how much is that on a per-date basis?
In March the first-ever female fire chief in the state of Minnesota was placed on paid leave and is yet to return to work. The reason: three separate lawsuits filed in U.S. District Court accusing Bleskachek of discrimination. In sum the documents paint a picture of Bleskachek, an out lesbian, using her position of authority to initiate sexual liaisons and punish underlings who didn't play along. The city launched an investigation that continues to this day. (See "A Hunk of Burning Love" for the full back story.)
According to the city, as of the end of last month that investigation had cost taxpayers $220,570.75. In addition Bleskachek earns a salary of $112,712. So in the seven months that she's been on paid leave the city has paid her roughly $65,000 to perform no work.
Then there's the costs of the litigation itself. Earlier this month the city agreed to settle two of the three pending lawsuits, paying Jennifer Cornell $65,000 and Kathleen Mullen $29,000. Both plaintiffs were also promoted to battalion chief as part of the settlement. The third case, filed by firefighter Kristina Lemon, is still pending. A settlement conference is scheduled for early November. In addition, the city hired private attorney Jerry Burg to represent Bleskachek. At present his billable hours add up to $7,125.
The grand total so far? $386,695.75.
And that's not counting staff hours devoted to dealing with the cases. According to the city attorney's office, employees spent 29 hours working on the two settled lawsuits and have so far devoted 5 hours to the still pending case.