(Story/Photo: AP via AOL news)
MINNEAPOLIS (Nov. 29) - A city panel recommended Tuesday that officials fire Bonnie Bleskachek, the nation's first openly lesbian big-city fire chief, in the wake of firefighter lawsuits accusing her of harassment and discrimination.
Bleskachek had earlier agreed to step down. But the city's executive council unanimously rejected a negotiated deal after a closed-door meeting.
"She was pretty stunned because it was a complete surprise," said Bleskachek's attorney, Jerry Burg.
Mayor R.T. Rybak had announced the agreement in a letter to the city's executive council in which he wrote that he no longer had confidence in Bleskachek as chief. Neither Rybak nor City Council members would immediately explain why the deal was blocked.
Bleskachek, 43, was hailed as a trailblazer when she was promoted to the top job two years ago, but her tenure has been troubled.
Three female firefighters have sued, alleging various acts of discrimination and sexual harassment. Two of the lawsuits were settled, but this month a male firefighter brought another lawsuit alleging he was denied advancement because he is male and not gay...