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Pontiac —  A former information technology specialist claims the city of Troy fired him last month after he disclosed to police he helped ex-city manager Brian Kischnick investigate possible violations of the Open Meetings Act.

It is the latest unusual turn involving Kischnick, 50, who was hired in 2012 and had faced allegations of questionable spending and domestic violence. He was fired by Troy City Council in March after a domestic violence assault of a 28-year-old girlfriend — also his personal assistant — outside her Clawson home.

Kischnick, who pleaded no contest to the assault, was charged last week in U.S. District Court with soliciting and accepting more than $20,000 in cash and meals from a city contractor. 

In his Oakland Circuit Court lawsuit, IT specialist Ryan Wolf of Troy said in March he was summoned by Kischnick, who informed him he was investigating a potential violation of Michigan’s Open Meetings Act and wanted Wolf to retrieve video inside City Hall to assist with the investigation. Wolf said he complied and also provided Kischnick with additional video he requested.

Wolf could not be reached for comment Friday but his attorney, Angela Mannarino, said Wolf “was doing what he was told to do.”

“He did not initiate any of this, it was all on orders of the city manager,” said Mannarino.

Wolf's attorney said she did not know what specific meetings were videotaped,  where they took place in city hall or who was captured on videotape.

“My client did not install any cameras or equipment,” she said. “This involved obtaining videos from cameras that were already in place.”

Troy, like many municipalities, has surveillance cameras both inside and outside city buildings, including entrances, exits, hallways and parking lots, for the safety of employees and visitors.

According to Wolf’s lawsuit, on March 11, the city terminated the city manager and appointed an interim city manager.

On March 15 — four days later — Wolf said he reported his activities concerning Kischnick to the department’s IT director. Wolf was asked six days later to provide a written memo “outlining how he assisted” Kischnick’s investigation, according to the lawsuit.

On May 4, a Troy police detective emailed Wolf that he wanted to interview him about Kischnick’s investigation and he met with police the same day, according to the lawsuit.

On June 11, the city fired Wolf from his job as a research and tech administrator “without a reason,” his suit says.

The lawsuit alleges that the city “was aware that (Wolf) had engaged in protected activity” at the time if retaliated against him and ultimately fired him and it amounts to a violation of the state Whistleblower Protection Act.

Wolf, who started with the city as a part-time volunteer in the fire department in April 2003, claims he obtained a full-time job in the city’s IT department in April 2006 and had received positive performance evaluations, promotions and regular merit raises for more than a decade.

The lawsuit, assigned to Judge Cheryl A. Matthews, alleged Wolf’s damages include “loss of past and future income and benefits, mental anguish and emotional distress, and loss of professional reputation.”

Troy City Attorney Lori Grigg Bluhm said Friday she knew of no violations of the Open Meetings Act at city hall.

“Ryan Wolf is no longer employed by the city and I cannot comment on why he left,” she said.

"The City of Troy will aggressively defend against this lawsuit, and the whistleblower allegations," Bluhm said. "As you can imagine, we disagree with the allegations in his complaint."  

Kischnick, who was paid $161,000 a year as city manager, could not be reached for comment Friday. His attorney, Anjali Prasad, said she was unaware of both the lawsuit and Wolf and had no comment.

Kischnick had been the focus of a city hall probe for more than two years for a variety of concerns, including an unreported accident with a city car, which he drove while collecting a gas allowance from the city for supposedly driving his own vehicle; spending thousands of dollars in meal bills; and giving pricey gifts — also paid for with city funds — to friends and staffers.

Officials said after a review that none of the concerns warranted disciplinary action, but two days after Kischnick was charged in the assault, city council held a special meeting and voted to fire him.

mmartindale@detroitnews.com

(248) 338-0319

 

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