On January 11th, we received a call from the Nauvoo Fire Department Chief, Dan Gallaher. He had been notified by concerned citizens, of public attacks being made against the Nauvoo Fire Department by a local citizen (Wendy Denton), on Facebook. He asked if we could verify the statements being made. A search of the Facebook page of Wendy Denton revealed that she made the public statement Chief Gallaher had been notified of. We took a screen shot of the conversation (below) on Mrs Denton’s facebook page Thursday night at 7:51pm. The post appeared to have been posted about 3pm that afternoon. It had already been online for 5 hours when we became aware of it, and prompted at least one response from Tracy Adolphson Storme of Plainfield, Illinois, another negative comment aimed at Nauvoo Firefighters (see below).
Further investigation revealed that the incident occurred at the Keokuk Pizza Hut, and involved the daughter of Wendy Denton notifying her of two firefighters (Matt Kennedy and Raymond Siegrest) eating at the restaurant (where she is a manager), in their firefighter uniforms, and not leaving a tip. The reason the two firefighters were in Keokuk is worth explaining. Discussions with Fire Department officials reveal that they were there to transport patients, since the local transportation for these patients was out of service. It was a volunteer effort on their part to transport these patients in need. While waiting, they chose to enjoy a meal and support a local Keokuk establishment.
They ate two buffets, and since Matt Kennedy only had $15 cash with him (more than the ticket amount of $12), he left Moira Roethle (Wendy Denton’s daughter) the balance as a tip. He also thanked her for the great service, and said he would return to increase the tip he had already given. Mr Kennedy returned with the additional tip after completing his transport work (resulting in approximately a $13 tip on a $12 meal). Sometime afterwards, Miss Roethle notified her mother of their visit, apparently passing on some particulars (what they were wearing, what they were driving, etc.). This led Wendy Denton to make the false statement on her own Facebook page.
The official code of conduct of Pizza Hut’s parent company (Yum Foods) requires employees to: “Treat all customers…honestly, fairly and objectively,” and further to “Not take unfair advantage of anyone through manipulation, concealment, abuse of privileged information, misrepresentation of material facts, or any unfair dealing practice.” The comments made by the employee and subsequently posted by her mother were not honest, or fair to the firefighters involved, the City of Nauvoo, or the Nauvoo Fire Department.
Since that time, Mrs. Denton has removed the post (but has not corrected her misstatement, or apologized to the Nauvoo firefighters).
The fire chief has since met with Pizza Hut local management to discuss this public attack on the fire department. Now Mr Kennedy is receiving calls stating the facebook screen shot (which we captured) was falsified. So, it behooves us at openNauvoo to report that we did the fact checking, and the screen captures. There is no possibility of the screen captures having been falsified, since we captured them, no third party was involved. In addition, several other individuals observed, and captured the comments in question. We have also been provided communications from the restaurant operator confirming the incident.
A statement by Lisa Ziegelbein, Director of Human Resources for Summit Restaurant Group (the operator of the Keokuk Pizza Hut) to Chief Gallaher includes the following statement: “Our company has policies related to social media use by our employees, but we have no way to address comments made by the public.” In this case, the member of the public was passing on information provided by an employee (since the details relating to their appearance, vehicle, etc could only have been provided to her by her daughter, the employee). This was not simply a public comment, but one based on information provided by an employee.
Chief Gallaher provided us with the following statement: “The Nauvoo Fire Protection District has spent many years and countless hours building a good reputation. Disparaging remarks are hurtful to our organization it takes a lot to repair the damage. Unlike Pizza Hut we cannot afford to let our employee’s negligence be swept under the carpet. Our PR is not supported by national advertising, but remains solely on the accountability and actions of our staff. Our staff acted appropriately, Pizza Hut’s did not. We only ask they help us repair the damage done. It is only appropriate that Pizza Hut take a step forward and discuss ways to repair this situation as well as ways to prevent it from happening again.”
We stand with the Nauvoo Fire Department and the City of Nauvoo. It is our hope that Pizza Hut and all those involved clarify their position and issue a public apology to the firefighters involved, the Nauvoo Fire Department and the City of Nauvoo. The Nauvoo Fire Department Trustees Meeting for January 16th also lists this incident as an item for discussion.
We offered Mrs. Denton, local Pizza Hut owner Summit Restaurant Group, as well as national Pizza Hut and Yum! Foods officials the opportunity to comment for this article. We received no response at the time of publication.