Jerry’s Point of View
Line up the usual media lackies, there will be a major report of good fortune from the chief soon.
Although I was a bit premature in my reporting six weeks ago, the cat is out of the bag now.
FEMA announced this morning that even though the sequester is in full swing with $85 billion in spending reductions, your fire department will not feel the pinch.
A FEMA grant was awarded this morning for $1,185,894 with the stipulation (requirement) of hiring 6 new full time EMT trained fire fighters.
So, remember that $3.5 million Excess Levy which promised 9 full time EMT trained firefighters? Well they never intended to spend one dime keeping that promise. That money is now free for anything they damn well want, from padding retirement pensions to expensive nationwide travel for ‘training’.
While just one year ago they were threatening us with loss of life and services, the accounts are swelling with behind the scenes scheming and fundraising, with not one dime to be spent as promised or returned to the duped voter.
I can’t wait until they come to the voter pleading their pitiful case for a new training center for all of the new hires to keep fit in. Lie after lie, when will the public wake up to the travesty?
Keep’em in the Dark
While I’m at it, why has no one in the media called out the department for their misrepresentations to the voters? Why is there no investigative reporting going on with this local government agency? Why are the voters only told of the good things the department does?
Do you not see the irony of a conveniently timed and quick recognition ceremony on Tuesday (media invited) and a silent grant acceptance on Friday (no one notified)?
This afternoon at their monthly commissioners meeting, the fire department recognized several local citizens for their involvement in saving lives.
A woman worked tirelessly performing CPR on her husband last July after he collapsed in the yard. The King County sheriff, also recognized, who responded was able to use the portable AED to revive him. The woman’s husband was happily quite alive and able to attend the recognition ceremony today.
Another woman was recognized for performing the Heimlich Maneuver on a choking child, also last July. The boy and his parents were at the meeting thanking the woman for her efforts. She had taken a CPR course offered from SKF&R some time earlier.
And another citizen was at a local restaurant in September when he became the first responder to a neighboring diner. His Heimlich Maneuver skills were also successful.
We all could be in a situation where at the next table, in the next line at the grocery store, or at the park, we become the only person standing between a person living or dying.
It was endearing to hear that these citizens were there and took immediate action.
Thank you to SKF&R for honoring these citizens and inviting the local press to cover the story.
It is good that we hear about these stories, but I wonder why the long delay in recognizing three separate heroic actions. 8 months had passed on two of them and five months on the other.
Last June, less than one week after a private citizen saved a man who had fallen from a small boat at Steel Lake, the department rushed to have an award ceremony, hastily arranged with local newspaper and television press and everything. This was just a few weeks before the election on the Excess Levy, as I recall.
And to Chief Church who requested a photo opportunity break immediately after the presentations and tell these local citizens that they could leave now.
Predictably, for the rest of the meeting, the room was cleared of all but the employees of the district, and one member of the public.
Ironic, isn’t it, that Commissioner Gates also conveniently rushed through the agenda and ‘overlooked’ the commissioner comment section until after the special recognition. He did ‘remember’ to return to that agenda item after the break, though, when only employees were expected to remain in the room.
This was a good thing, because Commissioner Fossos, who phoned in his attendance, to insure he could get paid his stipend, and with no explanation offered for his absence, did have some glowing remark about Bill Gates he wanted to share.
I’m surprised we don’t see more of that. Phoning in the meeting.
This is not the first time. Commissioner Thompson got paid for phoning in a meeting while on a hunting trip last year.
Bless their dedication.
The commissioners meeting had it’s good points this afternoon.
Another raise and promotion was made in the department. Recognition of appointment of Deputy Fire Chief James Hugo was announced today.
Another announcement was that several of the firefighter recruits that the district did actually hire are doing well in training. Some better than others because of prior experience and training but Chief Church said he was very pleased with the progress of all of them.
News from around the state
Predictable elections, with a twist
Also interesting was the election of the chair and vice chair for 2013.
With the voting order as follows; Comm. James A. Fossos, Comm. Mark Thompson, Comm. Bill Gates, Comm. John Rickert and Comm. Mark Freitas.
It was amusing at how Comm. Thompson handled being nominated.
For the Chair, Comm. Fossos nominated Gates and Comm. Freitas nominated Thompson.
Then the vote was polled, from left to right (audience view) with Comm. Fossos voting for his nominee. then we all watched Comm. Thompson make odd faces and hesitated a long time pondering the cascade of what would follow.
The pause was more than pregnant as the room watched the gears turn; if Comm. Thompson voted for himself, Comm. Gates for himself (both logical, right?) then Comm. Rickert could be the swing, with Comm. Freitas voting for his nominee.
Comm. Thompson waited, made faces, smiled comically at the chief then said: “Comm. Gates”.
The cards fell into place nicely with the swing flapping for a four-one split, Comm. Gates was predictably elected as chair, the remaining votes moot.
And it is obvious Thompson is not willing to accept the responsibility or simply did not want the coveted seat.
The vote for vice-chair was not as dramatic. Nominees were Comm. Fossos ( nominated by Comm. Gates) and Rickert (nominated by Comm. Freitas), voting occurring in the same order as for chair, with Comm. Fossos, Comm. Thompson and Comm. Gates re-electing Comm. Fossos, and the other two votes no longer needed. For the record, Comm. Rickert voted himself and Comm. Freitas voted his nominee.
Lest I forget the title of the article.
Never an agency to waste an opportunity to vote themselves a raise, any raise, this body brought up the absurd.
Just moments before the assembled group singing a hearty Happy Birthday to their dear attorney, the board voted on Resolution 320, the revolving mileage and per diem platform.
Apparently the IRS gave everyone a raise, and these guys were eagerly standing at the trough to slurp it up. All of it. All 1/100 of a cent of it.
Yes, folks, the mileage increased a phenomenal amount this year, and while letting it stand unchanged from last year was an option, not for these guys.
Getting paid to drive to work was too important for those that consistently bill you for it and getting paid more was vital. Even 1/100 of a cent more.
(Actually, I think they did it just so I would write about it. Mission accomplished.)
Silenced but not forgotten
While the FEMA SAFER grant is just days away from being announced, once again this tight lipped group tried to keep their secret. Not even a whisper about the proposal to hire an additional 6 firefighters with the impending grant was not mentioned.
Considering the grant was so close, I’m surprised no one asked the chief for an update.
Of course, I am jesting. I am not at all surprised. To speak it would have been to make it public knowledge and they want none of that.
Thanks for reading.
While it refuses to meet the obligations to the voters who raised their taxes to hire more firefighters, instead recanting allocation of the money they said would be used to return one aid unit to service, the fire district is still submitting applications for grants from the federal government.
Name me one politician who got elected by promising to raise your taxes.
This is the leadership failure we see locally and nationally.
After promising responsible governance, we see deliberate misuse of taxpayer funds while begging for more federal money.
(Hopefully I am not letting the cat out of the bag too soon, but if not this week then expect it to occur very soon.)
Today the government announced that our fire district will get an additional $1,185,894 grant to hire only 6 firefighters.
We will see two budgetary issues coming up for vote of the commissioners within the next month.
First will be the amendments and changes in the contract for the 2024 IAFF Local firefighters. It will contain multi-year raises and major benefit improvements for everyone.
Second will be the budget amendment that adds the FEMA grant money to the coffers. There may be a press release. After all, you would fully expect the district to announce they are hiring 6 more full time firefighters to protect the public, right?
So instead of using the voter approved Excess Levy for firefighters as promised, they can pad their retirement, take more trips for ‘training’ and raise everyone’s wages.
Just wanted to share this info.
My employer requires we know this for employee safety. I hope to never have to use that knowledge.
How many know how to use a AED? Or even how vital this device is?
We have all walked by the Red Cross sign in airports or retailers indicating where a heart machine is located. Do you know what is in them and how to use it? Try this interactive video and see what you think.
If you pick the wrong choice—-the man dies—-choosing wisely may save a life. I Just watched this video and was impressed, so I’m sending it to those on my mailing list with the hope that it’ll save lives (maybe mine, yours or someone you love!).
Mark Knapp was an avid writer and welcome contributor to the Federal Way Mirror with his Firearms Lawyer Column and other viewpoints.
When his blog was removed several months ago and replaced by the silent Occupy Federal Way Blog, we only heard from him from time to time as a guest columnist or in a letter to the editor.
His columns and submissions would now certainly be even more timely with recent news stories and should have been embraced.
Allowing for a mix of opinions and viewpoints is healthy for a community, providing spicy conversation, and it strikes me as irresponsible to deny the residents of Federal Way these opportunities considering that the Federal Way mirror is the only local newspaper.
Instead, Mark Knapp has been axed.
In a recent post on his blog, Mark writes:
“January 7, 2013, Andy (Hobbs) informed me that my contract with the Mirror regarding the Firearms Lawyer column was officially terminated and there will be no more columns about guns or other subjects.”
Just as we are hearing news out of Washington DC that the Obama administration is moving rapidly to ban a wide variety of firearms, trying to scrub the subject from today’s conversation seems heavy handed.
I wonder if this has anything to do with the an article in the Mirror about Sound Publishing purchasing the Seattle Weekly.
While that article covers some aspects of media ownership, it failed to mention that the parent company for all of these publications, Black Press, is a wholly owned Canadian company.
With Black Press having controlling interest in over 170 ‘local’ publications, will we ever see reasonable conversation about any subject not strictly conforming to Mr. Blacks agenda?
My days are numbered.
Did the IAFF2024 Union President sell out his membership, and the public, for a nice promotion and raise? Check out the timing.
Local IAFF2024 Union President was ceremoniously rewarded for what some see was a failure as a union president during the November board of commissioners meeting. Some see this as just another case of I got mine, Screw you.
On November 26th, just one month after selling his union downstream with the adopted 2013 budget, item 9 of the board of commissioners agenda called for “Recognition of Promotion and Appointments”. At the appropriate time, the fire chief asked the union president to come forward and, to some polite applause, the chief presented the newly promoted Captain to those in attendance.
While all of the promotional requirements must have been met, (t’s crossed and i’s dotted) some wonder if this was a payoff for something else.
Not sure where the line is between union represented employees and management in a fire department, but a captain overseeing employees must be very close to that line, if not crossing it. Does this put his future position as union president in question?
The IAFF2024 union is a well established element of the South King Fire & Rescue fire department, representing a majority of district employees. The union also plays strong roles in forwarding all of the fire department agendas in politics, spending tens of thousands of dollars each year on elections.
So when the department put forth their Excess Levy on the April ballot, the union political action fund spent over $20,000 trying to pass it. And it was money they were happy to spend because it meant two critical changes would occur. First, an aid unit would be returned to service adding 9 full time firefighters to the ranks, and second, promised raises to all union members would be fulfilled.
Almost as an aside, the department also applied for a grant to hire 9 full time firefighters using FEMA money. More on this later.
The April ballot measure failed.
Some believe that my con statement in the voters pamphlet played a role in the defeat, however minor, but the count was very close.
Because the election results were close, and there was trend upwards, the decision was quickly made by the administration and the board of commissioners to put the Excess Levy on the August 7th ballot.
In preparation for the Excess Levy vote, the union president reached out to me. We agreed on one major issue; the department needed to return to service one aid unit and the union president confirmed they needed at least 9 full time EMT trained firefighters for the aid unit. As an informed and responsible union president, he also must have known about the pending FEMA grant that would add 9 more full time members to his ranks, but, naturally, he would not want me to know about that.
So while the administration was hiding the FEMA grant from the public until the opportune time for a grand reveal,(after you vote to raise your taxes) Local IAFF2024 spend another $20,000 promoting the August ballot measure.
So what did the public get? What did the department get? And what did the union president get?
The public should have seen the hiring of 18 full time firefighters, since we voted for hiring 9 full time firefighters and FEMA paid for hiring an additional 9 full time firefighters. Only 11 are budgeted to be hired. The public got screwed.
The department greedily assimilated your voter approved tax increase into their 2013 budget, not using the money as promised for returning one aid unit to service, but instead giving personnel raises, several promotions, benefit package improvements and hundreds of thousands in individual retirement packages. Quietly revising the clear language of the Excess Levy to mean it will hire only 2 additional full time firefighters, not the 9 firefighters it said they wanted to spend your hard earned taxes for.
And the department also reaps an additional windfall of $1.8 million from thinly stretched FEMA, which said in a recent news story that resources are so stretched that many in the path of hurricane Sandy cannot be helped and available funds will run out by early spring 2013. This money was used to hire 9 firefighters.
The Union President:
By definition, the president of any union is elected to serve the members first. In the case of a public employee union responsible for emergency responses, the taxed public should rate just as high on their list of priorities.
On August 7th, the Excess Levy passed and just three days later FEMA awarded money for 9 full time firefighters. So where were the priorities of the union president when it came to hiring 18 firefighters to better serve the citizens of the district?
Did he demand hiring 9 firefighters in defense of the letter, and intent, of the language in the voter approved Excess Levy which pertained to desperately needed firefighters to staff an aid unit? Did he defend his union and the public, when days later the FEMA grant requiring hiring an additional 9 firefighters was interpreted to allow for blatant abuse of the Excess Levy money? Did the union president fervently question the obvious employment deficit reflected in the proposed 2013 budget during presentation on October 16th? Did the union president fervently oppose adopting the misleading practices and intentional under-hiring of much needed life-saving firefighters at the October 23rd meeting?
None of the facts support a positive response to any of those questions.
On November 26th, the union president was promoted from Lieutenant to Captain
Funds are limited and the requirements are strict.
Devastation is now the norm in the wake of Hurricane Sandy and local emergency services were put to the stress test. When you consider the $1.8 million that SKF&R accepted and then did not meet its obligations to the voters, it is a further travesty to the abilities of FEMA to serve areas of greater need.
What do your elected officials think?
We passed an Excise Levy in August that we were told would be used to hire 9 new firefighters, the exact number required to staff an aid unit. That is what the ballot measure said, that is what the department sold to you and that is what you voted for.
So after the Excess Levy passed everyone breathed a sigh of relief knowing we gave the district enough money to hire 9 new full time firefighters.
But they schemed different spending plan. One that favors their pockets, thanks to your lack of oversight.
Those sneaky commissioners.
The administration at South King Fire & Rescue made sure the FEMA grant restricted to hiring 9 full time firefighters was not awarded until after the levy passed. Then, once they accepted the FEMA grant, the department pompously felt justified reneging on their stated use of voter approved funds from the Excess Levy.
Instead, SKF&R decided to abuse the will of the voters and is using the money for across the board raises, promotions, comfortable benefits packages and several hundred thousand dollar severance packages.
Excess Levy takes on a much clearer meaning.
All the while other agencies and businesses continue to suffer the effects of a bad economy, tightening their belts, with many closing their doors completely.
Meanwhile, elsewhere in the country real need exists. FEMA estimates they will only have enough money for Hurricane Sandy to last through early spring.
Not to worry when you have a department that flaunts screw the voter and screw the rest of the country. We got ours and you can’t do anything to stop us.
I laud the actions of South King Firefighters Foundation president and the IAFF Local 2024 Union president in their swift response recently.
Earlier this week I contacted the organizers and made them aware of some potentially dire corrections that needed to be made in The John Moncrief Raffle.
Newly launched, several points of the raffle were being done in violation of the Washington State Gambling Commission and if not addressed immediately could have resulted in an investigation and ultimate penalties from the Washington State Gambling Commission. Unchecked, these unintended violations could have jeopardized the abilities of the entire foundation.
I am very pleased that because of their quick actions the raffle can still be held.
Please, as you consider your charitable donations this year, visit the pages of the firefighters foundation. Their work helps our local community all year long and not only puts 100% of your dollar back into the much needed and appreciated services, your donation brings the extra bonus of a team of dedicated firefighters with it.
Rare is the opportunity to have your donation work so hard for those that need it.