Friday, March 24, 2017

Initial Hiring Differences

The hiring process of Part 143 and the current process in effect at AFD are the difference between night and day.  I have stated that if 143 passes, AFD union will get exactly what is in part 143, no more and no less.  The AFD clearly states,” if you are NOT EMT-I or Paramedic certified…by the hire date you will begin your training as an EMT-I Trainee.  If you have that certificate you will begin your training as a Firefighter Trainee.  But first you have to be selected .

The AFD uses an independent contractor to administer all Industrial/Organizational Solutions out of Westchester, Illinois is their contractor (I/OS).  First the student check-in and take the written test administered by I/OS.  The tests are graded and the top 250 are allowed to run 1.5 miles and the times are recorded by a local independent contractor.  A physical and mental examination will be administered by a physician and a PHD in psychiatry.  Then they will proceed to the Physical Ability Test.  The timed events include Rescue Maze, Aerial Ladder, Charged Hose Drag, Equipment Carry, Ventilation Simulator, Body Carry and Ladder Raise.  This is administered by TCC.  Those who pass will be scheduled for the Panel Interviews and later the Command Staff interviews.  A combination of all scores will be posted and Conditional Job Offers will be extended accordingly.

Part 143 Subchapter B  Classification and Appointment

Notification of the exam must be posted 10 days prior, in the main lobby of the city hall and in the commission's office.  The notice must show the position to be filled or for which the examination is to be held, and the date, time, and place of the examination.  143.025 (i)  The grade to be placed on the eligibility list for each applicant shall be computed by adding an applicant's points (for military service), if any, to the applicant's grade on the written examination.  Each applicant's grade on the written examination is based on a maximum grade of 100 percent and is determined entirely by the correctness of the applicant's answers to the questions.  The test will be administered by the Civil Service Commission.  143.026.  PROCEDURE FOR FILLING BEGINNING POSITIONS.  (a)  When a vacancy occurs in a beginning position in a fire department, the department head shall request in writing from the commission the names of suitable persons from the eligibility list.  The director shall certify to the municipality's chief executive the names of the three persons having the highest grades on the eligibility list. (b)  From the three names certified, the chief executive shall appoint the person having the highest grade.

Sec. 143.022.  PHYSICAL REQUIREMENTS AND EXAMINATIONS.  (a)  The commission shall set the age and physical requirements for applicants for beginning and promotional positions in accordance with this chapter.  The requirements must be the same for all applicants.(b)  The commission shall require each applicant for a beginning or a promotional position to take an appropriate physical examination.  The commission may require each applicant for a beginning position to take a mental examination.  The examination shall be administered by a physician, psychiatrist, or psychologist, as appropriate, appointed by the commission.  The municipality shall pay for each examination.

And that Ladies and gentlemen is the difference between Civil Service hiring and current AFD hiring.


Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Letter From An Insider

This is a letter that I just received from an Observer inside the Arlington Fire Department.  It was too good to post in the comments section so I want you to read it in total in as a completely separate post.

Observer has left a new comment on your post "Ridiculous":

Mr Parker, District 1 and all city residents,

I'm an insider, I know very well both sides of the argument. I, like many, in the department have previous civil service experience. Mr Lengthy Anonymous and other proponents will never change their opinion. I personally believe they have been misled by their ignorant, bias and malicious association (union) leadership, have been disciplined before by our Fire Administration, or lost overtime. Its that simple. That has always been their beef (they would also love to see our chiefs replaced).

If you want to put them on their heels, ask for a public debate on why civil service would be beneficial or detrimental. Demand it. When you see how they react and/or participate, one will know their true motivations.

I've asked, many times for their argument and in their meetings or behind the scenes its because their current executive board cant get along with the chiefs. Many on the eboard have limited or no public management experience, have been disciplined for poor performance or judgement, or have personal vendettas because they cant articulate an proper argument in labor management meetings or in meet and confer meetings.

They think they will get all the benefits, pay, and processes back after a successful election. And what you see happening now with this online debate between Mr Parker and the proponents is what will happen if they win - lengthy debates, arguments and negotiations and law suits to get all the good perks we have now BACK; they want to take local rule away from our locally elected officials and accountable public managers. Why do we need yet another layer of governance (i.e. a commission)? Demand the union to prove their points on unfair disciplines, promotions, and hiring!!! It doesn't exist.

Chapter 143 was first drafted in 1947! It has taken decades for many civil service cities to get where Arlington has been since the 1980s!

Its not about higher standards and no new taxes. Its about local union thugs taken control and taking the department back to the dark ages.

I look forward to your blog on promotions and hiring, ours are state of the art practices and principles that have built our department to be the best around. Just demand and read the department's approval ratings and the annual reports!Its all public info.

Lets debate this openly, bring it one union!

Vote No on Prop 2.

Thursday, March 16, 2017


What I will start is a series of articles about Civil Service and why this has all come about.  Let’s start from the beginning.  When I first ran for office I was supported by both the police and the fire unions.  Almost immediately the fire union came to me with concerns about department leadership.  This persisted for about three years into my tenure as a Councilman.  At that time the frustrations came to a head with the publishing of a book by the union alleging fiscal malfeasance by the Chief.  They made these allegations while requesting a $750,000 increase in overtime that would blow their overtime budget up to $3,000,000 a year, for the next five years.  I asked the President and Vice-President specifically if they wanted to go down this road.  They were emphatic. 

At this juncture I looked at their request and asked, what would the city get for its $15,000,000?  The answer was that the fire department would do its job.  Well, the firefighters are paid well to do their job without overtime.  A couple of numbers leaped out at me.  The fire department boasts a lean operation with only .8 firefighters per 10,000 citizens.  With the same breath they were second in the Metroplex in overtime usage.  Ft. Worth was first.  So I requested that 26 new firefighters be hired to help bring the equation into equilibrium.  The union went crazy because their overtime would be given to the new hires.  A normal union would welcome new jobs.  I knew I struck a chord because the union howled like it had been gut shot.  Overtime went from 35,000 hrs. to 6,000 hrs.  As a pilot when you are taking flak you must be over the target.

Because of the allegations that were put in the book, a special audit of the fire department’s finances was ordered.  The Chief was exonerated in of all allegations.  Trump would call it “fake news”.  So then the union stated that morale was low and firefighters were leaving.  So a survey was accomplished, that showed that there were issues on both sides.  The Chief confronted each problem area with a three page letter, to put these issues to rest.  The union didn’t respond at all to their problem areas.  That was very telling because the union didn’t care about morale.  It was obvious that they were just throwing things against the wall to see if they would stick.

One of the claims of the union was that the city removed spouses from insurance, if the spouse had the ability to obtain insurance at her place of work.  This is true, but what the union fails to mention is that it was because of them that this happened.  Due to an increase is housing values the city had some extra money.  The Council decided to, give a much needed 4% raise across the board to the employees.  That wasn’t enough for the fire union.  The wanted another 1.5%.  So we had to find the money somewhere and that is how we got it, by removing spousal insurance of all employees so we could give the money to the firefighters. Pretty greedy if you ask me!  But they will give that all back and more with Civil Service.

So now it’s Civil Service that the union wants.  This breaks the firefighter’s ties from the city and puts them under state control. Their reasons for doing this are vague at best.  They say that hiring and discipline are problematic and Civil Service will solve these issues.  I say it is a power play by the union for self-government.  The union cannot properly articulate any other reason than that.  Being unable to come up with good reasons as to why the department is broken they have come up with their campaign sign.  Vote Yes on Prop 2, No New Taxes.  It’s like saying Vote Yes on Prop 2 and Save the Whales.  Taxes and Whales aren’t part of Civil Service.  You could do a word search of Part 143 of the Governance Code and, Taxes nor Whales would come up.  This is the union at its lowest form, trying to trick the citizens into voting for a false narrative.  Vote No and tell this union do their job and stop whining.

Sunday, March 5, 2017


A few days ago a very nice young man came to my door as a volunteer for the Fire Union’s effort to get Civil Service passed on the May ballot.  Although he was very nice and considerate, he had very little knowledge of the subject he was trying to promote.  So let’s go to the web page and see what the Union is saying:

“A Yes Vote for Prop 2 puts in place objective, measurable standards for hiring and promotions. No special treatment for anyone. No special deal for friends. Hiring and promotions will be based upon WHAT you know, not WHO you know.”   Actually hiring will be based on one thing only, the results of a written test!  That’s right, it doesn’t care what type of person you may be, it only cares about a number on a piece of paper.  Ft. Worth and Dallas became participants in Civil Service in the 1940’s.  The fire department has evolved into something that is much more diverse today than it was then.  The first sentence of Part 143 states its obvious intent.  (The purpose of this chapter is to secure efficient fire and police departments composed of capable personnel who are free from political influence and who have permanent employment tenure as public servants.)  That’s right it seeks permanent employment!!   So this fair hiring that the union wants doesn’t take into consideration the type of person you are, and then gives you a job for life.  Total BS!  Nobody deserves a job for life.

“Prop 2 is NOT about pay:  The City has dramatically cut overtime. That is good for all of us as taxpayers, but make no mistake, it put a big hole in the budget of most firefighter families. Civil Service does not change that”.  What do you know, a true statement.  Currently a firefighter (F1) fresh out of high school with 5 years of service under his belt will be paid $77,400 a year.  The union published a book requesting $15,000,000 in overtime in a five year period.  Well I put a stop to that.  Chief Don Crowson  (who the union is trying to remove) lowered overtime from 35,000 hours to 6,000 hrs.  He has been Nationally Recognized for his innovative approach to managing his department and making a difference in his community.  He has received the American Medical Association’s Nathan Davis Award for his forward thinking.   He does a great job and we are privileged to have him as our Fire Chief.  Do you think the union likes him for cutting overtime?  If overtime wasn’t an issue the union wouldn't even bring it up.

“Prop 2 is NOT about benefits: Recently, the City cut medical benefits for spouses and families. Now, firefighters and their families bear that cost. This saves taxpayer money, but again, civil service has no impact on firefighter benefits”.   What the union will not say is that all city spouses (who could get insurance elsewhere) were removed from insurance because of THEM!  That’s right!  All city staff received a 4% raise, but that wasn’t good enough for the Fire Union.  They wanted MORE!  So to give the Union MORE, money had to be found elsewhere in the budget.  So the fire department received 5.5% where the rest of the city staff received 4%.  That’s the reason that the spouses were removed.   

“Prop 2 is NOT about pensions: Arlington Firefighters have the same retirement benefit as all City of Arlington employees. Arlington’s pension is one of the most sound and stable in the country. Civil Service does not change that”.  Arlington employees have a good stable pension plan that is currently funded at 85%.  Not like the Dallas and Ft. Worth pensions that are in jeopardy.  That is thanks to the city’s sound fiscal policy, and nothing to do with the Unions within the city.

One of the things that the Union has a problem with is discipline.  They don’t like it and state that discipline under Chief Crowson is onerous and discriminating .  So the city staff looked into these allegations also.  They looked at discipline over 6 years of the current Chief and 6 years under the previous Chief.  They found that Chief Crowson had 26% less disciplinary actions than did the previous Chief.  So here is another false claim by the Fire Union.

Let me sum up.  This is a ploy by the Fire Union for Permanent Employment, terrible hiring practices, and limited disciplinary guidelines.  We have a great Fire Department so don’t change it.   VOTE NO ON PROP 2 GIVING PERMANENT EMPLOYMENT TO FIRE FIGHTERS.

Friday, February 10, 2017

ISO Rating (Insurance Service Office)

Today I received the following email from Unknown:  “Charlie,  With all due respect your post and attitudes are becoming incredibly immature with people who disagree with you as well as unbelievable intellectually dishonest.  I am confused as to why you would attempt to lay fault for Arlington not being an ISO 1 on a single firemen, when that is solely at the feet of the City Management.   Furthermore, it might be time for Arlington's leadership to spend some time in self reflections. Not only is Fort Worth rated as an ISO 1 City, but so are your neighbors to the east, Grand Prairie.”

The ISO stands for Insurance Service Office which is a for profit organization that looks at various Fire Departments and rates their attributes.  This is an antiquated system that many insurance companies don’t use any more.  The largest underwriter in the U.S. is State Farm Insurance and they use a system called Public Protection Classification which divides the city into zip codes.  The ISO rating uses four main classifications:  (1) Emergency Communications 10 pts, (2) Fire Department 50 pts. (3) Water Supply 40 pts and extra points for (4) Community Risk Reduction.  An ISO difference from a 1 rating to a 2 rating does not change insurance rates of residences 1 penny.  

So let’s look at each category: (1) Emergency Communications,   Arlington has an exemplary communications system that is accredited every 3 yrs.  We updated our communication 2 yrs. ago with a new digital communications system and is one of six cities in the U.S. with EMAP accreditation.  (2) Fire Department,  This has to do with mostly training type/personnel and response times.  When it comes to our firefighters and department I will stack them up against any department in the U.S.  (3) Water Supply This mostly deals with flow supply for fire suppression, and the number of fire hydrants near suppression points.  Community Risk Reduction,  these extra points deal with fire prevention, safety education, and investigation.  Now let’s look at the last ISO rating accomplished in Arlington.  The score was 84.4.  Communications received 7.6 pts.  Water received 36.2 pts. but the biggest reduction was the Fire Department itself with a 38.7 pt. rating out of 50 possible pts.  The biggest reduction was in the amount of training per firefighter.  This would indicate that the Fire Chief and the Firefighters aren’t doing enough, right?  Wrong!  The last report was accomplished in 2007 before Don Crowson was the Chief.   The remaining points were added in community risk.

What I am saying is that we have a great fire department in this city and Civil Service will do nothing to improve it and everything to tear it down.  One bad apple can spoil the barrel.  Civil Service allows for Permanent Employment.  Nobody Deserves Permanent Employment!!  VOTE NO ON CIVIL SERVICE IN MAY.

Now let's discuss reasons why Arlington Leadership DOESN'T need to, " spend any time in self reflection."
Heart Safe Award:  The City of Arlington became the first large city in Texas to be designated a HEART Safe Community. This was made possible through extensive efforts to increase cardiac arrest survivability. The city was recognized during the North Central Texas Trauma Regional Advisory Council’s Semi-Annual Meeting.

AMA's Nathan Davis Award:  Next month Chief Crowson will travel to Washington DC and receive the Nathan Davis Award.  He will be nationally recognized for Outstanding Government Service  as an individual who has made a difference in their community. Since 1989, the award has been an annual celebration of elected and career public servants on the federal, state and local levels, who have contributed greatly to public health, promoted the art and science of medicine, or developed a project to improve the health of a community or population. 

EMAP Accreditation:   Arlington is the sixth city in the nation to receive this accreditation on its own.  The emergency management program uses the accreditation to prove the capabilities of their disaster preparedness and response systems, which results in stronger capabilities and accountability. Accreditation is a means of demonstrating, through program assessment, documentation and onsite assessment by an independent peer review team, that a program meets national standards EMAP is the only accreditation process for emergency management programs.

CALEA Accreditation: The purpose of CALEA’s Accreditation Programs is to improve the delivery of public safety services, primarily by: maintaining a body of standards, developed by public safety practitioners, covering a wide range of up-to-date public safety initiatives; establishing and administering an accreditation process; and recognizing professional excellence.

Community Health Program Outstanding Achievement Award from U.S. Council of Mayors:  Arlington was one of five national cities with populations of 100,000 or more to receive the U.S. Conference of Mayors’ 2016 Outstanding Achievement Award.  The American Dream City was recognized for its Community Health Program, a voluntary, no-cost enrollment in-home paramedic preventative care service. 

World Record for CPR Training:   At 11 a.m. Tuesday, Nov. 17, 2009 Arlington broke the previous record when 4,626 eighth-graders converged on Cowboys Stadium to learn cardio-pulmonary resuscitation techniques as part of a citywide initiative called CPaRlington.  Organizers invited every Arlington Independent School District eighth-grader to participate in this massive training exercise. A Guinness World Records official adjudicator witnessed the event and validated the achievement.

TML Municipal Excellence Award for Public Safety for AISD Fire Academy:   The Texas Municipal League recognized Arlington for its groundbreaking Fire Academy program  with a 2014 Municipal Excellence Award in Public Safety for cities with more than 25,000 residents. The honor distinguishes the City for its efforts, along with local partners, Tarrant County College and Arlington Independent School District, to develop a fire academy for high school students.  The unique program trains high school students from Arlington’s six high schools on firefighting and emergency medical care and enables graduates to immediately enter the workforce after successfully completing the program.

Does Grand Prairie or Ft. Worth claim any of the above.  Now let me say under no uncertain terms that the members of the AFF work for The Best Big City in the South (Money Magazine), you have a great job watching over the safety of Arlington residents, department Leadership is Nationally Recognized and you are paid handsomely for your efforts.  It is about time you started appreciating what you have, and stop acting like children.   YOU call Me, "incredibly immature and unbelievably intellectually dishonest." 


Friday, January 27, 2017

Town Hall Meeting

Last night I had a Town Hall meeting at Lamar High School. Again it was well attended, with well over 150-200 people there. As stated I am blessed with citizens that want to be informed. At one point in the evening the President of the Fire Fighters Union and I got into a dialogue about Civil Service. He stated a few things that i totally disagree with. 1. That if Civil Service was implemented that Council would be taking away their benefits. My thoughts were that your current benefit package rests with the City form of governance and not with Civil Service. If you want your current benefits package do not request Civil Service. If you want Civil Service then you get what the state provides not a hybrid of the two systems.  There will not be a cherry picking event where you get the good parts of the city system and add them to the Civil Service form of government.  This I'm afraid is what the Union is selling to its members, and it simply won't happen.  2. His next statement is that "Meet and Confer" will be an avenue to change Civil Service in a way that is beneficial to both parties. Again Meet and Confer rests with the City not the State. Meet and Confer will be a fond memory under Civil Service. And Lastly he stated that firings occur all the time under Civil Service. I strongly suggest that Mr. Crow read this article in the Wall Street Journal to figure out why these police officers in other cities cannot be fired. 

The main body of the Town Hall Meeting was about all of the investment that is coming to Arlington.  Essentially, the total worth of the city is $12 billion.  The total investment to this city in the next few years is $4 billion.  This means that businesses want to come to Arlington and invest there money in our city.  This rate of investment is staggering.  At one point in the evening a lady stated that 74% of the children in our city are considered impoverished and that Arlington is headed downhill.  This is her opinion and it couldn't be further from the trend I see in Arlington.  This city is going vertical in development, and that means jobs.  The vehicle to get people out of poverty is jobs and the growth in our city will require thousands and thousands of jobs, which pay money and remove Arlington residents from poverty.  You are in the Best Big City in the South to live in (Money Magazine).  So act like it and be proud of the changes that have been made to get us here, and the changes to come, that are going to make our city even better.