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Lawsuit contends race played a role in hiring of new Ypsilanti fire chief

Posted: 4:45 PM, Jun 25, 2019
Updated: 2019-06-25 22:46:04-04
Ken Hobbs.jpg

YPSILANTI, Mich. (WXYZ) — A legal battle is raging involving allegations a local fire chief was selected based on his race.

The lawsuit is going after both the city of Ypsilanti, and elected leaders, for alleged race discrimination in the hiring of Fire Chief Ken Hobbs.

Attorney James Fett calls it an outrageous move rooted in racism, referring to the recent promotion of Ken Hobbs to Fire Chief after a contract was already signed with Livonia Fire Captain Phil Kamm.

According to a lawsuit being filed in Washtenaw County, Kamm is losing out on a job because he’s white.

Kamm has a bachelor’s degree in Business from U of M, a master’s in Public Administration from EMU and also graduated from a fire staff and command program at Eastern. He’s worked as a tactical medic and grant writer.

Fett says after he got the job the mayor and city council rescinded the offer and gave it to Hobbs, predominantly because of his racial background.

Hobbs dismissed that claim in person.

Chief Hobbs insists his long history with the city as a firefighter and strong reputation over decades among his peers helped get him the job. He also says he’s a proud citizen of Ypsilanti who knows his community.

As the city and its leaders face the potential of a trial and request for financial compensation, Hobbs tells us he’s confident in the direction the department is moving in.

in the meantime, the mayor has not returned calls for comment.

Chief Hobbs says he’s also convinced his time as Acting Chief the last 6 months, helped him to be selected, despite other claims.