Fort Lauderdale chief building inspector says he was unfairly terminated

John Madden blew whistle on new development issues

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – The top building inspector in Fort Lauderdale, a U.S. Marine Gulf War veteran, is now facing termination from his job.

"What I do, and what building inspectors do, they protect lives and property, and they serve the public," John Madden said.  

That's what Madden said he did faithfully as the chief building inspector in Fort Lauderdale, but after 10 years with the city, he was fired.  

"The reason I'm talking to you today is I want the taxpayers to know, I want the developers to know, I want the owners of these properties to know that they have been misled for years," Madden said. "They've been misled by the management of the city of Fort Lauderdale."

Madden was instrumental in blowing the whistle on new developments in the city that were allegedly being built below minimum flood level requirements, sparking investigations by the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Broward Inspector General's Office that are ongoing.

He's also brought to light numerous other issues in the building department.

"As a result of speaking up and telling the story that needs to be told, here's what you get," Madden said.

In its disciplinary report, the city claims that Madden has "publicly criticized decisions" made by city officials and also alleges that he has been disruptive and engaged in heated outbursts at work.

"Am I a hothead? Some people would say yeah," Madden said. "You know when I’m upset, you know when I'm passionate, you know when I'm making a point. The story needs to be told. It needs to be told. It's important because lives depend on it."

One employee said he feared Madden might "go postal."

"I've never even implied that," Madden said. "Let me ask you something. Have you ever killed somebody? Have you ever killed anybody? I have, and you never want to do that again."

Madden, who fought in Desert Storm, said that despite everything, he still wants his job back.

"All I did was report what was wrong," he said. "I told my bosses, I told my supervisors, 'This is what's wrong, this is what's happening.' They failed to do anything about it."

Madden is appealing his firing.

After an interview with Local 10 News investigative reporter Bob Norman, he went to the veteran's center to get help dealing with issues that so many of our combat vets deal with every day.

Norman attempted to contact city manager Lee Feldman, but he was not working on Friday. A city spokesman said that officials won't comment until the appeals process is complete.