Portland appoints interim fire chief; civil rights director on leave

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PORTLAND — Assistant Fire Chief David Jackson was named the interim replacement on Oct. 9 for departing Fire Chief Jerome LaMoria.

On the same day, City Hall spokeswoman Jessica Grondin revealed Rachel Talbot Ross, director of Equal Opportunity & Multicultural Affairs, has been on leave since Aug. 27. Grondin declined to discuss the reason for Ross’ absence.

Grondin said Talbot Ross’ duties are being shared by City Manager Jon Jennings and Gina Tapp, who directs human resources for the city.

Talbot Ross is also president of the city chapter of the NAACP.

In a press release, Jennings said Jackson is a good choice for acting fire chief.

“Chief Jackson is a capable leader who has overseen emergency operations as Assistant chief,” he said.

LaMoria’s resignation came less than three years after he was appointed chief. It was announced Oct. 6 by Jennings.

Jennings praised LaMoria’s efforts to reshape the Fire Department during his tenure.

“Chief LaMoria has been a great leader who has overseen the fire department during a time period that included a number of organizational changes that will carry the department into the future,” Jennings said. “While we are sad to lose his leadership, we wish him all the best in his future endeavors.”

LaMoria came to the city after serving as a lieutenant colonel in the Prince Georges County, Maryland, Fire Department.

“I want to express my deep admiration for the excellent work and dedication that the men and women of the fire department display every day,” LaMoria said in the release. “I am very proud of the service they provide to this great city, and I am grateful to have had the opportunity to serve this department.”

The leave of absence granted to Talbot Ross came three weeks before Public Services Director Mike Bobinksy began a two-month leave on Sept. 17. Bobinsky will resign after the leave.

Grondin did not say if Talbot Ross is expected to return to her job.

David Harry can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 110 or dharry@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @DavidHarry8.

Talbot RossLaMoria

Portland City Hall reporter for The Forecaster. Baltimore native, lived in Maine since 1989. A journalist since 2005, covering much of Cumberland and York counties. I joined The Forecaster in 2012.