Friday, September 11, 2015

Budget Meeting, 10 Sept.

Last night I witnessed something that I didn’t want to see.  The Council voted 8-1 to remove spouses from City insurance if the spouse could get healthcare insurance elsewhere.  I was the one vote in descent.  The reason for my no vote was because this didn’t have to happen.  But it did.  Several Firemen were in attendance and it is because of their union APFA, that this occurred in the first place.  The City was prepared to give employees a 3% raise across the board with a 4% raise to the firefighters.  It was their union leader that rejected this amount.  Police and Staff were very happy, but not the Firefighters Union.  They wanted more.  So the City Manager went to work to get them more. 

By removing the spouses from the protection of the City’s healthcare umbrella he could save $1.2 million.  Couple this with a few other innovative ideas and he was able to come up with another 1.5%.  I had a solution to the problem avoiding this outcome, but it was summarily dismissed by the Council and a vote was taken to remove the spouse.  Now here’s the rub.  APFA leadership will never give Trey credit in dollars for benefits.  That’s the problem.  Trey provides a package and APFA leadership only cares about W-2.  That is unfortunate for the rest of the employees that work for the City because benefits are a big part of why they want to work here. 

Last night APFA leadership had Firefighters in the audience, and everyone that spoke stated the City was giving raises on the backs of the employees.  Well we didn’t give you the first 4% and ask you to do anything.  But when the last 1.5% required something of you then squawking about taking something from the employees was the theme song.  Greed isn’t always good, and sometimes it has its consequences.   This didn’t have to be this way, but the greed of one man made it happen.  I think that it is time for him to own up to that responsibility.

We don’t know what will happen with Healthcare in the future.  There might come a time when the City will no longer be able to provide healthcare insurance to its employees at all.  Then we can give firefighters an even bigger raise.  APFA has cast me as the bad guy because they won’t take responsibility for their actions.  That’s fine I’m a big boy and can take their brunt and I know how Unions work.  The problem is that I like the firefighters, they are good people and perform a great service to the Community.  It is unfortunate and embarrassing that current AFPA leadership will never get along with Department leadership.  I have always counseled them to take the high road.  This is what happens when you don’t.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

APFA Leadership

Well I really didn’t want to write this post but I think it should be said.  About a month ago I was approached by APFA (Fire Department Union) leadership.  I was given a book compiled by them.  The book was slanted against the actions of Chief Crowson.  APFA leadership wants the Chief gone, and that's no secret.  After being briefed I specifically pointed at the book and stated, “Are you sure you want to have this conversation?”  Leadership replied in the affirmative.  I replied, “This is not the Union’s job.”  They replied that they wanted to go ahead.

One of the subjects addressed in the book was manning.  Now it is known that Arlington has the least number of firefighters per 1,000 people of any department in the Metroplex at .80.  The book illustrated that over a 182 day period, the department was only manned with the requisite 84 firefighters 44.5% of the time.  Therefore, the only way to man the department properly is to get firefighters to come to work on overtime at 1.5 times their normal pay.  After doing some research I found that the Arlington Fire Department is number 2, in the Metroplex in overtime behind Ft. Worth.  Our overtime for 300 firefighters was $2.3 million last year.  The year before was $2.5 million.  In the book that was given to me, the overtime request was $3.0 million for the next five years totaling $15.0 million dollars.  This is not going to happen on my watch.  My solution to this problem, is to get the equation into equilibrium and hire more firefighters to staff the department properly.  Union leadership howled and stated that it would cost more money because you have to buy their bunker gear.  That will only take a few hours of overtime and it is a one- time purchase.  I can assure you it will be well south of $15.0 million. 

The Council has taken the accusations of APFA leadership seriously.  We have requested an audit of Fire Department expenditures, and I have requested that 18 new firefighters be hired to properly staff their shifts.  For taking their problems under consideration and hiring new firefighters, my name was dragged through the mud at the APFA Union hall, and I was told by their leadership that my campaign would not be supported by them in the future.  Leadership couldn’t tell me this in person, so they left a voice message on my phone.  I find this to be unfortunate and another poor decision by APFA leadership.  After all, if they hadn’t produced the book in the first place and been so greedy in their budget requests, none of this would have happened.  It is very important that leadership take responsibility for their actions, and stop blaming others.     

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Poor Decisions

Throughout the Christian Taylor incident, I have always maintained that, the result was the consequence of many bad decisions throughout the evening.  These decisions rest on both sides, subsequently  causing the ultimate tragedy.  From the Toxicology Report we know that Mr. Taylor ingested marijuana, #1, then ingested 25I or “NBOMe” #2. Mr. Taylor got in a car and drove to the dealership, #3.  This impaired state endangered every person on the road.  After arriving at the dealership he demonstrated destructive behavior, as caught on video, #4.  He then drove his car through the locked and chained front gate and the glass doors of the dealership showroom, #5 & 6.  When confronted by police officers he failed to respond appropriately and advanced toward them, #7.  As a police officer on probation, Officer Miller decided, by himself, to proceed into the dealership alone,  without his training officer present #8.  Evaluating the situation, Officer Miller decided deadly force was needed and deployed his service weapon #9. 

  As you can plainly see, there is a litany of decisions that were made resulting in the taking of a young man’s life.  It should serve as an example to us all, that the decisions that we make as individuals affect others.  Our actions have consequences, and those consequences are our responsibility.  These two young men dealt with each other’s poor decisions resulting in fatal consequences that ripped up our community and rippled through this nation.  As I look back on this incident, I see the first incident of proper judgment came from our Police Chief.  It is my belief, and only my belief, that Officer Miller was not malicious or reckless, nor had a pre-conceived notion to do harm, so I would hope that the Grand Jury will let Mr. Miller go without prosecution.