Sunday, June 18, 2017

Overtime

Well here it is.  Overtime, just like I told you months ago is what the Fire Union was trying to get back with the entire civil service campaign.  What the Firefighters don't understand, because their union hasn't told them, is that civil service will not get you back one dime of overtime.  Isn't it interesting that now the Fire Union has shifted their rhetoric to manning levels.  That equates to overtime.  They tell certain people to call in sick, which drives down the daily numbers, and then point to the numbers that they manipulate with sick leave.  They do this self imposed drill, and then blame the Fire Chief for not having enough people on the trucks.  What is the most shameful act is that they then send wives of firefighters, that possibly are at work, and tell the City Council how dangerous it is for their husbands to work in the Arlington Fire Department because of guess what?  The manning level that has been altered by the Union telling firefighter to call in sick.  I also get a kick out of the issue of not being home for holidays.  They state that we don't know what it's like.  Really?  I slept on the wing of a fighter on top of the USS Midway Thanksgiving 1977 because the air conditioning was out below decks and it was 130 degrees in my room.  I was gone for only 3 months, and missed Christmas also.  Firefighters are home the next day.  So don't tell me I don't know what it's like.  Military families all over this country are telling firefighter families that they don't know what it is like to have their loved ones away.

Several years ago the Fire Union came to me with a book trying to get support in an effort to fire Chief Crowson.  In that report they stated the same argument.  Manning levels are too low and we need $750,000 more in overtime.  I parted ways with the Fire Union over this book and its subject matter.  That would put the Fire Department at $3,000,000 a year, and for what?  What you get for $3,000,000 is the Fire Department doing what they swore to do when they graduated from the academy.  We had the lowest number of firefighters per capita in the Metroplex, and we were second in overtime.  Ft. Worth was the only city higher.
 
Chief took this issue to task and slashed the overtime budget from 35,000 hrs. to 6,000 hrs.  He took the Battalion Chief position, that gets the bulk of overtime hours, and created a Deputy Chief position which was salaried.  Fire Departments all over the United States are having overtime problems, but Arlington is in compliance.   Here is a link to Austin's issue with over 1,000,000,000 overtime hours billed to the city.
 
Arlington runs a terrific fire department.  There was no need to change it, but the citizens and a lot of the firefighters didn't know what they were changing.  They only knew that the Fire Union wanted it changed.  So now the Council will direct staff to stand up a Civil Service Board, and impose Part 143 of the Local Governance Code upon the Fire Department.  Lots of benefits will be removed and few will be added back.  I had one firefighter tell me, "thanks for the generosity!"  My thought was, I was generous before civil service and you didn't appreciate it.  So now after all the raises and the benefits that you didn't seem to care about, you want me to be generous?  I love our firefighters but not their union.  The union will get exactly what the people have stated they should get, civil service.  
The Union President stated to his faithful that he had talked to all City Councilmen , except me, and that their benefits will all be restored, " don't worry."   There are two huge lies in his statement.  1)  I asked all the other Council members if he had talked to them about benefits.  All shook their heads NO!  2)  If your current benefit is contained in Part 143 it will remain.  All others will be removed. 

Monday, May 29, 2017

Civil Service


At the last union meeting David Crow stated, “Don’t worry about your benefits, they will remain untouched.  I have talked to all the Council members except Charlie Parker and they have assured me of this.”  Really!  I knew that Sheri was in England and I know he didn’t talk to her.  As I sat eating dinner at the last Council meeting, I was surrounded by Council members.  I asked, “Did Crow talk to anyone about benefits under Civil Service?”  They all said No.  We have all been called liars by the Fire Union, but we didn’t lie at all.  I listed 10 of the most prominent lies that Crow has told to the Union members, but this is the biggest one of them all.  Maybe now you will understand who was telling you the truth all along. 

The Council, on its agenda of the last meeting, has hired a law firm that is adept in administering Civil Service.  They will be guiding Council in the proper ways to establish Civil Service in Arlington.  I assure you that there is no emotion here, just the business of doing the work required of the city, asked for by the voters of Arlington.  But I have stated several times there will be no cherry picking in the process of establishing Civil Service.  What is stated in the statute of Part 143 is what will prevail, and it will be established because it is the written word and can be backed up accordingly.  The Police department will continue to enjoy the generosity of the City while the Fire department will enjoy the generosity of the State.  It is important that you recognize the truth, and what it looks like, not following a union leader blindly thinking he has integrity.  The truth about Civil Service will arrive on October 30th, enjoy!

Friday, May 12, 2017

Wayne Ogle's Article

This past week a citizen in District 1 wrote an article to the Star Telegram concerning how to institute Civil Service for the Firefighters in Arlington.  He recommended two items be accomplished quickly, in an effort for the Mayor and City Staff to put their best foot forward to the firefighters.  Well I was with the Mayor Tuesday evening when he did just that.  At the Mayor’s campaign party several firefighters and their wives came to that party uninvited.  They were all wearing their red vote yes T-shirts and the Mayor approached them to shake their hand and congratulate them for their win on Prop 2.  The firefighter state, “there ain’t no way in hell I will ever shake your hand.”  It was apparent that they were drunk and wanted to fight.  I got on the phone and dialed 911 to dispatch a cruiser.  They left the building promptly.  So much for good will and putting our best foot forward.

Next Mr. Ogle requested that a committee be formulated, comprised of citizens, three picked by the city and three picked by the firefighter’s union, so that starting up civil service would go seamlessly.  He adds, “Obviously, the final decisions regarding Civil Service implementation must be guided by the law itself.”  That would be correct, so why the committee?  The law is explained very clearly in Part 143 of the Texas Local Governance Code.  There is no room for interpretation, so formulating a committee is meaningless.  It would seem that Democrats always want to form a committee to get consensus.  You can see it in the news every day.  “Russians affect our election” so let’s form a committee to investigate.  “President fires Comey”, so let’s form a committee and get a special investigator.  The City of Arlington doesn’t need a committee to implement Civil Service.  It is in black and white. We have a City Manager, a Deputy City Manager with a PHD in Urban Development.  We have a Nationally Recognized Fire Chief in Don Crowson, and they are very capable of establishing Civil Service in Arlington.  We don’t need no stinking committees! 

“What the City did to you guy was absolute B#llsh1t.”  That is what Mr. Ogle told the Firefighters last night at a Union rally.  I disagree with his assessment.  If someone has to tell lies and deceive the public to get their way, then I have no respect for them at all.  The Union’s actions at the polls, calling the Chief’s wife names, the actions of Union members in the firehouse bullying younger firefighters, is reprehensible.  The lies that were told by the Union President and the E-board were disgraceful.  But when you are dealing with a Union there is no shame because there is no contrition. The Union will get Civil Service.  It will not get them more overtime.  It will not remove the Chief.  It will not make them happier.  It will not get them bigger pay checks, on the contrary they will get smaller.  What it will do is provide them with Part 143 Civil Service.  Nothing more and nothing less.

Monday, May 8, 2017

North Arlington Results



(Click On The Chart)


I simply wanted the voters of North Arlington to know how they voted in comparison with the rest of the city.  I believe the south also voted No in majority also.  But I have always prided myself, that the voters of North Arlington have always reached for the truth in whatever the issue.  Education on any issue is an important tool.  You have made me proud to represent you on Council.  I will pass along to my successor that communication is a key factor in the representational process.  The Blog and Social Media work well, in combination with Town Hall meetings.  Thank you for being inquisitive and wanting answers.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

A personal message from a 25-year veteran of the Arlington fire department:

https://www.safetyfirstarlington.com/ff-message
My name is Mark Gist and I’m a 2nd generation Firefighter. I’m proud to have served 25 years with the Arlington Fire Department (AFD), one of the country’s best.
AFD is one of the most highly-rated departments for many reasons. In the late 70s, Civil Service was put before voters. This was the 1st time you voted NO, making it clear you wanted control of your Fire Department to remain with our City-Manager form of government. Shortly after, Chief Bill Strickland was brought in from Los Angeles, bolstering our reputation as an innovative fire department.
The early 90s saw a second vote for Civil Service and once again came a resounding NO from you and fellow voters. We made it clear that it was in our best interest to have our fire department employees under the protection and control of our city instead of the state.
After this 2nd Civil Service vote, Chief Robin Paulsgrove came up from Austin and continued to build upon Chief Strickland’s successes. While in Austin, Chief Paulsgrove built solid relationships between the Austin Fire Department and the University of Texas. Once here, he created strong ties with our own University of Texas at Arlington, while also upgrading the standards in AFD’s Emergency Medical Services Delivery System.
In 2010, Chief Don Crowson was promoted through the ranks to take over as our Fire Chief, continuing the legacy of excellence set forth by the two previous Chiefs. Chief Crowson oversaw the creation of a Gold Standard Emergency Management System for Arlington and those visiting our Entertainment District. To this day, fire departments from across the country look to us to share best practices from this highly-successful system. He has also implemented a Community Medic Program to provide care for patients after a hospital stay to reduce costly returns into the healthcare system.
AFD doesn’t just provide Gold Standard service; it produces top-rated firefighters that have gone on to be Chiefs for cities including North Richland Hills, Richardson, Georgetown, Mansfield, Hillsboro, Athens, Colleyville, South Padre, Forest Hills, Horseshoe Bay, Princeton, Copperas Cove, Hudson Oaks, Taylor and the City of Westminister, CO.
Yes, many Texas cities have Civil Service. But remember AFD got to where it is today without Civil Service. Now is not the time to allow a 3-member commission to come in and run our fire department.
The Arlington Fire Department is renowned for its high standards and performance excellence. This Saturday, join me in voting NO on Proposition 2 to keep this reputation intact and to allow our firefighters to continue to serve and protect the citizens of Arlington.


Friday, April 28, 2017

Meet Ms. Dara Wandel A Lady That Thinks


 Dara Wandel from Parkway Central · 20h ago
Mr. Sanderson, I'm not  going to argue with your math. It's too early in the  morning and a cursory glance indicates it is generally  accurate. As far as it goes. And I won't argue that IF  the City's … View  more only focus were the dollars, paying for  overtime does cost less, in the short run, than hiring.  However, I believe you have missed the point.

 I said it was about the money for the FIREFIGHTERS and the  UNION...not for the City. While it is financially costly to  budget and sustain a high level of overtime per year, and  taxpayers have the right to be concerned, the overtime  number is an indicator of many more problems than just a  strain on a segment of the budget. Not the least being  evidence of inadequate staffing, combined with inefficient  scheduling, a potential negative impact on safety, and a  failure to maximize overall effectiveness within a shift. As  a taxpayer, 35,000 hours of overtime sustained over multiple (past) years, was alarming for reasons beyond the dollars  involved. Especially since those dollars only  "buy" you the status quo. And, at a time when  Arlington is at the threshold of even greater growth,  requiring a greater need for superior Fire and Police  services, the status quo is NOT acceptable.

 Further, it is the Mayor and Council that bear a fiduciary  responsibility to voters, as well as an administrative  obligation to put tax dollars to best use. Civil Service  would never share that burden. And a Civil Service  Commission would never look at the larger administrative  picture. It is designed NOT to.  Those who manage a business know what I mean. Within a  department of approx. 318 employees, 35,000 hours is  unsustainable for reasons far more critical than the budget.

 Productivity falls, performance suffers in subtle ways,  safety suffers, burnout increases, and good employees are  lost as morale goes into the dumper. And you risk being a  handful of employees away from not being able to staff or  function appropriately at all. You can only shuffle things  and people so much, shifts and programming, and the special  demands of events or drills or training, before you  encounter a wall called the "law of diminished  returns." This is not the sort of thing you want to  watch play out. Especially not in a crisis or emergency.

 If the firefighters, or their Union were asking for needed  equipment, more trained firefighters, special training  opportunities and the like, I would Vote Yes. Even if it did  mean a small tax increase. But, they are not asking for any  of these things. They are asking for Civil Service. Which is  what told me, almost immediately, this was politics and that  something was rotten regarding the Union. Or call it an  association if you sleep better.

 From an employee's standpoint, it's great to have a  generous amount of overtime available and the extra money  routinely in your paycheck. But, that extra income comes at  a price. To firefighters, to their families, and to the  Department. A price far higher than the dollars themselves.  Especially if this practice is sustained over a long period  of years. As it previously was within AFD.

Again, remember I am not speaking about simply saving  dollars. And when I wrote "it's all about the  money," I was speaking to the perception of  firefighters in non-management positions. And the direct and  constant, and false, Union message to their firefighter  members and now to voters that firefighters had received a  "pay cut." Union officers seized on the overtime  issue to sow discontent within the ranks, convincing members  that they were being slighted, mistreated, and not listened  to. When in fact, they have received several raises within  the time frame that overtime was being systematically  reduced. I'm not going to waste time, again, on the  provably false Union claims against the City regarding  spousal benefits or failing to support reservists or  scheduling creating safety concerns.

Raises were provided because firefighters had earned them  and certainly deserved them. During the same period, empty  slots were filled with newly hired firefighters and  scheduling was adjusted to get closer to ideal numbers. To  anticipate the next objection, yes, new hires were/are  frequently “green" and need to be assigned and  trained appropriately through their probationary employment  periods. But, the majority of this hiring was done approx. two years ago and most of those hired are now off, or soon  will come off of probation. Where would we be, today, had  these hiring steps NOT been taken two years ago? The hiring  would still have been necessary but the Department would be  two years further behind the power curve.  As for changing the employment status of "Chiefs" or any other senior Department member to effect needed  budget savings, I have to ask why you would be so quick to  go there? At minimum, I'm sure they would object,  rightly, to being referred to as little more than a cost  center. And your argument regarding moving an employee from  "exempt" to "non exempt", or vice versa,  to save money is specious. Pending and existing changes in  federal employment law may necessite certain changes.

 Regardless, exempt employees may not be worked beyond  mandated levels without fair compensation, including  overtime, just because they are salaried rather than hourly.  And, just like all firefighters, Chiefs have received well  deserved raises.

 So, yes, as you have so eloquently proven, this vote boils  down to money. But only according to the Union and their  members. You have spent a great deal of time on the math. But your failure to acknowledge real issues undermine your  argument. Especially since the Union is claiming,  simultaneously, that firefighters received a pay cut AND  that staffing and scheduling issues are compromising safety  of firefighters and citizens. It can't be both. Although  I do know the complaints about working with multiple green  new hires, and instituting quick response vehicles, etc.,  that the Union points to as deficiencies or  “dangerous.” Which I find to be politically  fabricated claims. So, I have to wonder WHICH of the two  opposing claims apply? Where is the concern for staffing  minimums per shift and the compromise of safety when talking  about overtime losses and the assumption of entitlement to  those extra dollars? Where does the concern about lost  overtime dollars fit when complaining about manpower  availability, bodies on fire trucks, shift minimums, and  safety issues?

 In addition to it boiling down to money in the minds of  firefighters, I have also said, repeatedly, it is ultimately  about risking an increase in Union clout. Civil Service  addresses only issues related to hiring, promoting,  disciplining, and/or suspending employees. Nothing else. It  certainly does not address Unions or directly empower them. But, it does, indirectly.  Part 143 uses basic criteria and provides a limited, archaic  selection model. It relies primarily on a test score with  additional points given for years of seniority. A health  exam and age requirements are thrown in for obvious reasons.

 Part 143 requires little else for hiring. And not much more  for promoting. Those minimums can be upgraded, but only at  the discretion of a majority opinion of a three member  Commission. At the same time, it strictly restricts  conditions for discipline or suspension and makes outright  firing in worst case scenarios virtually impossible. It  provides only for permanent suspension in the most grievous  situations which, as we have seen demonstrated in Fort  Worth, can be reversed years later by a single mediator, and  to devastating, punitive effect to the employer City. Even  when the wrong doing is admitted and criminal. In this  context, arguing over the meaning of the word  "permanent" as used in Part 143's  "permanent employment" statement, or when  interpreting "permanent suspension" becomes  demonstrably open to dangerous interpretation. Keep in mind  that, in today's world, there is a great deal of other  law, not in existence when the Civil Service model was  conceived in the late 1930s, that aggressively protects  employees from mistreatment or discrimination or harassment  or abuse unfair hiring practices and many other workplace  evils. Civil Service is the lesser of the choices available  for such protections. Worse, it is immune to many, more  current, State and Federal laws governing independent  workplace administrations and currently protecting non Civil  Service employees. This immunity is one key reason Unions  love Civil Service.
Regarding relying on the judgement of a three member  appointed Commission which, time has shown, in City after  City, and situation after situation, to be fallible and  unreliable, this is an area where Unions can and do exert  influence. This is not to say Commissions don't try to  do their best. But three appointees are no good substitute  for the combined expertise of Fire Chiefs, a City Manager, a  Mayor, and a full City Council, and existing law, when it  comes to administering a municipal department. However,  reducing hiring, promoting, discipline, and suspension  policy to their lowest common denominator, as represented by  Civil Service, and mandating the finality of judgement of  only two out of three people, becomes soil that fosters the  growth of Unions. Civil Service has long remained a Union  preference for obvious reasons. The standards are minimal  and simple but, ironically, can be open to interpretation in  application. Especially if you only have two out of three  people to convince or confuse...or influence. Or, as in some  instances, a single mediator. Confusion, prevarication,  misdirection, and sowing discontent are the cudgels that  Unions use to great effect. Both inside and outside of their  meeting hall. Keeping in mind also that today's Union  does not exist to solve problems. They exist to acquire  money and power.

 Then consider that Civil Service, in general, has been  around since the late 1930s, becoming a common employment  model in the early 1940s when few acceptable models even  existed. Part 143 became a Texas supplement adopted and  adapted in Texas sometime in the 1970s, specifically to  address Fire and Police Department employees. When you look  at those early years, those times, and the sizes and needs  and lack of modern sophistication of Texas cities and their  Fire or Police departments, it is not surprising that Civil  Service, and the later Part 143, were looked on favorably.

Let's face it, there was little other employment  "law" at the time and all manner of  "bad" practice existed. Civil Service provided a  basic and legal structure where no other existed. Few cities  saw the need to develop their own structure for hiring and  promoting and disciplining if Civil Service could do the  work for them and, at the same time, provide the legitimacy  of Law.  Today, however, the only remaining champions of Part 143  Civil Service for municipal police and fire departments are  the police and fire associations/unions. Why? Because other  State and Federal law has long since surpassed Civil Service  in protecting employees and applicants, as well as  instructing employers in practical and legal requirements.

 Arlington does not manage its own administration simply  because it is more reliable and definitive, or more  inclusive. Or because it gives them administrative control.  All are true. But, we must recall that until fairly recently  (relatively speaking) Arlington was a small, uncomplicated  town with only a volunteer fire department. Arlington's  swift growth, and its need for sophisticated and agile  police and fire services is far more recent than those of  historically larger cities such as Fort Worth. So, Arlington  leaders back in "the day," rejected the easy  choice of going Civil Service because of a desire to  build something far better, more demanding, and more  conducive to the challenges presented by the City’s  predicted rapid growth.

 True, other even "younger" cities have adopted  Civil Service. Like Plano, for example. Their choice. But,  Plano remains a much smaller city with fewer demands on City  Services than Arlington. And Arlington voters have wisely  rejected going Civil Service on two previous occasions.  Plano may one day regret their choice. It has been  published, independently by a regional news source, that  many Texas city governments now look enviously at Arlington  and Arlington’s success in building a strong Fire  Department while avoiding the yoke of Civil Service. They  wonder, out loud, how Arlington voters could even consider  taking such a backward step.

 So, I stand by my original statements and recommendations.  This is all about the money. For the Union and for  firefighters. Not the City. And, it's all about clout  and prestige and increased control. For the Union. Not the  City. Civil Service really offers nothing of value for the  individual firefighter. For the City, this is about  continuing to set high standards and provide excellent  services for citizens, to select and promote employees based  on multiple criteria, rather than a minimal few or as  approved by only two of three members of a Commission. For  the City it's about maximizing the effectiveness and  impact of every tax dollar committed to City services. For  No Voters, this is about properly supporting our  firefighters in ways that actually DO support them. Not in  ways that only support the political agenda and ambitions of  a Union. Edited 18h agoThank  Roel  thanked Dara

 

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Just More Lies





WOW, I GUESS THEY CAN'T SHOW THEIR FACES!  THIS IS PROOF THAT THESE PEOPLE ARE LIARS.  DO NOT SUPPORT A UNION THAT WILL LIE TO YOUR FACE!!!


Obviously the latest flyer from the Yes campaign does show the faces of Arlington Firefighters. So which is it? Poor me I can't show my face or I lied to you before, and I could always show my face! This entire campaign has been a string of mistruths in an effort to represent the city in a bad light. To bite the hand that feeds you. Let's take a step back a week and look at some of the most obvious lies they have told you to get your vote:
1. 92% of firefighters want civil service.
We know that only 197 of the 320 firefighter wanted it which works out to around 60%.
2. We have received a pay cut the last two years.
No you received a 3% pay raise in 2015 and a 5.5% raise in 2016.
3. The city took spousal insurance away from us.
No, because you had to have another 1.5% pay raise we asked spouses in all staff households to get insurance coverage at their place of work if it was available. All that money saved went to the firefighters.
4. You stated "minimum staffing pay" was cut.
It is called Overtime. This is probably the closest they have come to telling the truth. Overtime is not to be considered as part of your paycheck.
5. This is not a union thing because we are an association.
President Crow, "the IAFF continues to experience growth in our Union," and "it will become increasingly hard for unionized workers to have the ear of elected officials."
6. Our leaders have warned us that if we show our face or use our name in a mailing to voters, we will face disciplinary action.
One week later they publish the mailer you just received with their faces all over it.
7. "We want to hire people for what they know not who they know."
This is the biggest lie. They have yet to publish one name that was hired because they knew someone. Factually it is false because seniority points are added to test scores. Tenure based hiring takes the place of an interview process. Only test scores matter to Civil Service.
8. Diversity will increase under Civil Service.
Diversity will be removed entirely by Civil Service. Hiring is accomplished by test score only. Where will diversity come in play?
Crow, "hire by what you know, not who you know, or what you look like."
There is the real truth. Crow only wants white males in the department.
9. Civil Service provides coverage for reservists to cover military leave.
No, civil service provides 150 hrs. The city provides 180 hrs. and pays the difference in pay if the reservist is called to active duty. This will all go away under civil service.
10. Sure you can get fired under civil service.
No, you are put on "indefinite suspension" because Part 143.001 (a) states, "The purpose of this chapter...is to provide permanent employment tenure as public servants." Ft. Worth Police Officer Dunn got his job back after stealing overtime dollars on shifts he didn't work. He got his job back and $400,000 in back wages.

Well those are my top 10 lies by the Firefighter Union. Bullying is rampant in the fire house. The Union threatened a retired firefighters business because he spoke out against civil service. So do you want to maintain the current award winning high standards that you are satisfied with or vote for a union that will lie to your face? I know the facts and I voted NO on Prop2!