Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Civil Service Is Coming


Yesterday at the afternoon Council meeting we dealt with the unknowns of Civil Service in consideration of the FY18 budget.  It is budget time and we have to deal with this creature before the beginning of the fiscal year on October 1st.  The first thing that was accomplished was the termination of meet and confer.  A letter will be sent today advising the APFF that meet and confer, the vehicle used by Arlington Unions to negotiate with City management, has been terminated for the Firefighters Union.  The reason is that Meet and Confer is not required in Part 143 of the Local Government Code, therefore it is not a requirement of the City to provide it.  Meet and Confer will be continued with the police union.

It has always been the position of Council, that if Civil Service was approved by the voters, the increase in cost would come from the Fire Department Budget.  The City has allotted a budget of $49 million for FY18, for the Fire Department.  Contained in that budget is the purchase of two fire engines costing $1 million.  We have allowed the first engine to be purchased and held the purchase of the other until later in the year to see if there are any unexpected expenditures connected with Civil Service.  The City Manager has identified a cost for the implementation of Civil Service for the first year to be $807,000.  As stated this additional cost will come from the Fire Department’s budget, namely the pockets of the firefighters themselves.  A listing of benefits that have been removed are as follows:

  • Meet and Confer
    1.  Withdraw & Remove Previous Concessions
  • Vacation
    1.  Start with 180 balance on October 30, 2017
  • Sick Leave
    1.  Amend policy affecting covered Fire Fighters to align with 143.
  • Cost of Civil Service ($807,000)
    1.  EMT-1 ($396,000)
    2.  Holiday Pay ($160,000)
    3.  Education Incentive 30/60/90 ($59,700)
    4.  Sick Leave Sell Back ($87,500)
    5.  FLSA ($90,000)  *still under consideration*
    6.  Swing Pay ($12,500)

Since FSLA overtime would unfairly affect other employees, it remained untouched leaving an additional $90,000 to be cut elsewhere.  I also stated that I didn’t want our military reservists to be touched by the advent of Civil Service.  A lie was sent to our citizens from the Union stating that military reservists were having to use vacation to serve their country each year.  The truth is that reservists are allocated 150 hrs. in Part 143.  The City currently allocates 180 hrs. each year, and I wanted to insure that the higher of the two was maintained instead of the lower Part 143 requirement.  Those serving our country should not have to bear the brunt of Unionism.

Lastly, we told the firefighters that benefits would be cut, and that they would not be able to enjoy the benefits that were given to them at the City level when seeking protection at the State level.  This is the truth of that statement.  The only individual that stated, ”your benefits won’t be touched,” was the Union President.  Now that same Union President has already threatened to sue us over two items.  The first is the advent of the Deputy Chiefs becoming salaried employees and the second is the Apparatus Operator list.  Bring it!  Litigation is very expensive and we knew that the Union would try to sue the City at every opportunity.  That is why we have held the $807,000 from benefits and the $500,000 for the fire truck in abeyance.  The fire union has asked the citizens for civil service and the citizens have given it to them.  It is now time for the Council to implement the wishes of the voters.  

Friday, July 14, 2017

There Is A Need - Please Help


I want to tell you about a special need that our community currently has, and I hope that you can find it in your heart to help. Scout Troop 517 has been operating in Arlington for the last 25 years. They are a special needs troop and contains challenged scouts of all ages both male and female. On or around 29 June their trailer was stolen containing approximately $10,000 of special need equipment that made camping out possible for these scouts. https://www.dallasnewscom/news/arlington/2017/06/27/special-needs-scouts-stuck-homeafter-trailer-stolen-arlington-church.
.   Now the reason that this incident has affected me so is that most of these scouts are friends of the YMCA. Each year, for the last 5 years, I have sent these friends to a Rangers game so that they could enjoy baseball. Someone has stolen their camp trailer that was stored at the First United Methodist Church, with all of the necessary gear that allowed them to go on campouts. Luckily the residents of the City of Arlington have taken issue with this injustice and several have offered to help, in essence making lemonade out of lemons. I was approached today by Mr. Brad Thompson, who has started a website to raise money to replace the stolen equipment. He felt that he simply had to do something to assist those in need who required a helping hand. So he started a fund at: www.gofundme.com/troop517 . I would strongly encourage anyone who wants to help these special scouts to go to this website and make a donation. Brad currently has $8,600 and is looking to raise the full $10,000, that will allow these scouts to continue to enjoy the pleasures of the great outdoors and permit them the opportunity to appreciate nature. I hope that you can find it in your heart to help out.

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Drury Plaza Hotel



This is the Drury Plaza, that was voted on and passed unanimously at the 27 July Council Meeting.  As you can see it is situated on the Northwest corner of Road to Six Flags and Center St. across from Calloway's Nursery.  This is another integral piece of the North Arlington puzzle that will greatly benefit our community.  First let me explain the project and then I will explain why the benefit.


The hotel is a 9 story structure with 268 rooms.  There will be an additional building to the west and then a restaurant located on Road to Six Flags and an art sculpture on the corner.  As a pilot stationed in St. Louis for 18 years, I was a professional hotel dweller.  St. Louis is the corporate home of the Drury family and I was very skeptical of this product, for the last year.  I was a NO vote on this project.  But I got on an airplane and went to St. Louis unannounced, and simply walked into the Drury Plaza in Chesterfield.  This Plaza was 10 years old, and I wanted to see what it looked like after 10 years of operation.  I was thoroughly impressed with every appointment and aspect of this hotel.  The lobby, rooms, personnel, and facilities were all extremely nice.  The quality was on the same par, if not better, than the Hilton or Sheraton currently in Arlington.


The model of Drury is not to have a restaurant inside the hotel.  This was problematic for me, I like food.  But they put independent restaurants on the premises, that are also known for high quality.  This Plaza had a streak house, located next to it.  There is however, food in the hotel.  A breakfast is complimentary.  Ours will be complete with an omelet station.  In the evening they offer another buffet known as a kick back.  They will have nachos, hot dogs and taco stations for example and open the bar for complimentary beer, wine and mixed drinks. (three per tenant)  This is all included in the price of the room.  For those patrons that want a full meal, a restaurant will be located on the premises


The Drury team will also build an additional building to the west for retail and office use.  It will be located next to LA Fitness and compliment the Plaza aspect of the structure.  The Drury family will also install an object of Art, as depicted in the picture, located on the corner for all to appreciate.  This art object will be approved by the city staff.


Now the benefit of this project to the community is obvious.  The Calloway's property just got very expensive.  Coy Garrett owns most of the property on the south side of Road to Six Flags and down Center street.  This is perfect for development, or to flip to someone else, for development.  The boarded up houses on the Southeast corner, now become highly desirable.  I look for them to go away, and new development to start.  Construction on this hotel will start by the end of the year.  The Drury Family has been great to work with and they really want to be in North Arlington.  I believe that the Drury Plaza hotel will be a tremendous asset to the community.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Seaman First Class George Anderson Coke Jr. Returns Home

The family of a World War II U.S. Navy sailor killed in the attack on Pearl Harbor will finally be able to lay him to rest after officials identified his remains. He was previously buried in a mass grave in Hawaii.

Texas native, Seaman 1st Class George Anderson Coke Jr. was killed in action in the “Day of Infamy,” December 7, 1941, when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor without warning. The Arlington High School graduate served on the USS Oklahoma. While the great battleship survived the attack, 429 of her crew did not. Seaman Coke died in the attack and Navy officials buried him in a mass grave with his crewmates, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported.
More than 75 years later, Coke returns to his Arlington, Texas, family after being recently identified.
Doland Maner, 94, is one of the few remaining people who knew Coke personally. Most simply remember his through family tales.
“We weren’t buddies,” Maner told the Fort Worth newspaper. “But he was an all-American boy. He was into a lot of devilment, but if you didn’t like George Anderson, you didn’t like anybody.”
One of his family members, 73-year-old Milton Coke said the young Sailor was a celebrated boxer at Arlington High School. The family still has his medals earned in the ring.
“George was an athlete his whole life,” Coke told the reporter. “The family lore is that they had a Pacific Fleet boxing championship and George won his in his weight class — 156 pounds.”
Cole joined the Navy less than a year before the now-famous attack on Pearl Harbor. The early morning attack came just days after his 19th birthday. A Japanese torpedo ripped a hole in the Oklahoma. The ship’s wound caused her to capsize and resulted in the deaths of 429 Sailors.
The family first learned that Cole might be returning home eight years ago when Navy personnel called and requested a DNA sample. In 2015, the Department of Defense released the news they were working on identifying the remains of those who died on the Oklahoma.
Finally, in December, the Navy announced they had identified Cole’s remains.
The family debated about returning him to Texas for burial or having him buried “where he fell” alongside his crewmates in a new marked grave.
“Military tradition is very strong that you have to be buried where you fell, but I made the decision to bring him back,” Coke’s cousin, Milton Coke of George told the local newspaper. Milton Coke is designated as the closest living relative. “He was my father’s little brother.”
PBS reported on the project to identify the remains of USS Oklahoma Sailors.
Seaman 1st Class George Anderson Cole Jr. will be laid to rest alongside his father, George A. “Dutch” Coke Sr., and his mother, Juliana Jane Tomlin Coke. She is believed to be the person who purchased a headstone memorializing her son’s death which has held a spot for him for 76 years. He will be buried with full military honors.

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!


Saturday, April 22, 2017

More Union Lies

This flyer probably came to your house last week.  It states that Civil Service requires cities to give extra time to military reservists.  No they don’t!  USERRA  is the Uniformed Services Employment and Re-Employment Rights Act.  It is federal law that all cities must abide by.  Arlington currently gives 180 hrs for the reservist to accomplish their military duty.  The only thing that Civil Service does is allow for a city to set up a military leave bank.  This allows other firefighters to work a shift and put the time in the reservists account.  Arlington would do this in a heartbeat if the UNION would have brought it up, but they never did.  This is a no cost item that can be implemented instantly.
What Arlington does do for military personnel is pay them extra.  That’s right, we currently go one step beyond civil service.  If a military member of the city is called up to active duty, the city will pay the difference in pay, so there is no financial strain on the family, for serving your country.  Under civil service this will go away because it is not in Part 143 of the Local Government Code.
Another lie on the flyer was, “92% of you firefighters voted to ask you for Civil Service.”  Here is the truth as posted by another firefighter:
Anonymous April 21, 2017 at 1:52 PM
More fun facts- the union keeps saying they had a 92.5% membership approval vote to fight for civil service. The truth, from their own memo breaks it down like this:
328 members
212 voted
196 voted yes
16 voted no
That's only 59% of the members voted yes.
A majority of course.  Sad that so many of them didn't voice an opinion.
Citizens, do you want 196 firefighters upset about lost overtime to ruin an institution that hired and promoted all of them?
What is even worse is that half of 328 members is 164 members.  196 voted YES so the majority is made up of only 32 firefighters.  That is the number that is causing you to consider this option.  I think it’s a sad commentary that 32 high school graduates are the difference in maintaining the best fire department of over 30 major cities in the United States. These 32 firefighters that could have been in high school last year are throwing away the system that hired them.  I agree with the Anonymous firefighter, the Mayor and Council, the Chamber of Commerce, The Star Telegram, the Arlington Board of Realtors, The Young Men of Arlington, former Mayors Greene and Cluck, former Fire Chief Strickland, Fire Chief Crowson and all the Assistant Fire Chiefs.  Vote No on Prop 2.  Don't fall for UNION LIES!

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Citizen View of Prop 2



Miss Wandel is a citizen in Parkway Central a neighborhood between Van Buren and Lincoln.  I believe she has captured, in a post on Next Door, the essence of this entire vote in front of the people on Prop 2.

What this boils down to is money. More than $2 million in lost overtime, to be exact. We can cuss and discuss Part 143 forever and it won't matter. We can PASS Prop 2 and it still won't matter. Because this is fundamentally about money. And passing Prop 2 won't put a dime in anyone's pocket. This is about a Chief and Council who took steps to get more than $3 million in runaway annual overtime under control, thereby royally ticking off lots of fire fighters who had grown accustomed to that extra money in their paychecks. So, it's all about the money. Fire Fighters recently got a raise. They asked for a larger raise than the across the board raise given to any other municipal employee. Not huge, but a decent, respectable raise. It wasn't enough to quell the rumblings. Council funded the extra raise percentage via the Fire Departments budget. The benefits budget, to be exact. Spouses with benefits available through their own employers were no longer automatically covered. Not all spouses, just those already otherwise employed and insured. This is a common solution to this particular type of problem. Nothing unusual or unfair. No money out of a fire fighters pocket. No spouses left without an insurance option. But, that's not how it was viewed. Union leaders were not in the mood to be pragmatic. And the raise they did achieve wasn't enough to quell the rumblings about the shift in overtime availability...and the hiring done to relieve the understaffing that made that overtime possible. It made the rumblings even worse. The new hires were looked at as Faces and bodies that represented lost dollars in the pockets of other Fire Fighters. The steps taken by the Chief and Council where not unusual, unfair, or outrageous. The lost overtime was not coming back. It could be argued that Fire Fighters should have known that the overtime gravy train couldn't last forever. But, they didn't. They got very comfortable with it. Too comfortable with it. They were happy to cover extra shifts or work holidays or whatever was required to keep maximum hours on their time cards. I don't blame them for liking the overtime. Anyone would. But, they did not anticipate the inevitable day when the department would be required to tighten up that aspect of the budget. When staffing shortages would be resolved and shifts adjusted to bring annual overtime dollars to a more acceptable level. There is still overtime available. But barely a third of what was previously available. As a taxpayer, I say hallelujah. If I were a fire fighter I might look at it a bit differently. In any case, no raise could have been large enough to completely replace the overtime money in a Fire Fighters wallet. So, the rumblings grew and grew. Spurred on, I believe, by a group of Union officers who have their own axes to grind against "officers," and resentments built over years of their own very personal and constant resistance to authority. Union members were encouraged to believe they were being unfairly treated. That bad hiring practices were the source of their troubles. That bad management was the font of their discontent. That bad promotion policy and bad decisions and all manner of nefarious dealings were the origins of their pain. They (Union Reps) complained that Council didn't care about them. They complained that the Chief didn't care about them, and wouldn't listen to them. They complained TO Council. Complained TO the Chief. They complained ABOUT both. All the while, the underlying problem was...the money. So, now, simply because they can, Union leaders have asked for Prop 2, a shift to Civil Service. A poke in the eye for the Chief and the Mayor and Council. Even though Part 143 Civil Service has nothing to do with salary, or overtime, or benefits issue. Those reside forever with Council and taxpayers. So, although it won't solve the original beefs, or change much of anything that directly impacts the fire fighter or his wallet, they insist it will resolve their morale problems. I agree there is a morale problem. On both sides of the issue. While the Chief is an able administrator who respects every man and woman in his department, he's not a particularly warm and fuzzy guy. While Council, and the Mayor, and City Manager respect and want to "do right" by our fire fighters, they also have a fiduciary responsibility to all citizens and taxpayers. After several years of constant complaints, all taken seriously, all investigated, all found to be baseless, Council is fed up. After years of lodging complaints, going to meetings, and filing grievances and participating in investigations, with only a raise increase to show (in their view) for their efforts, Union leaders went for their version of the "nuclear option." They circulated a petition in November and then forced a demand for Civil Service on the May ballot. Proposition 2. I believe Union leaders have lost their way. I believe Council is beyond exhausted trying to find a way to satisfy them. Those overtime dollars are simply NOT coming back. Nor should they. So, now the entire City is turned on its ear. It's nobody's fault and everybody's fault. So the voters will decide. Do we vote Yes simply to give the Union leaders a victory that might, maybe, quiet this situation? Even though it won't actually solve any problem real or imagined? Or, do voters stand up, say ENOUGH IS ENOUGH, vote No, and tell everyone involved to simply get back to work. There is no perfect solution. Ruin does NOT lay down either path. It boils down to a single question. Will approving Prop 2 solve a single problem? As for me, I vote No.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Discipline


Part 143 states in its opening paragraph, “The purpose of this chapter is to secure efficient fire departments composed of capable personnel who are free from political influence and who have permanent employment tenure as public servants.”  This is where the discipline subparagraphs come into play, to secure permanent tenure.  Currently we have many layers of discipline ranging from informal to formal.  Civil Service however only consists of formal discipline administered by the Civil Service Commission.  I think that it is important to point out that the Chief currently does not administer discipline, the Assistant Chiefs do.  The Chief either passes it to the arbitrator or reduces the finding.  So understanding these simple facts let’s go to civil service.

In Civil Service the Chief will submit an infraction to the civil service commissioner, in a timely manner.  Facts can be submitted, but only infractions that have been in the last 180 days can be included.  That is all that can be considered.  The Commissioner will convene the civil service board, and review the offense and the personnel file.  Remember this: para 143.089 3b “A letter, memorandum or document relating to alleged misconduct…may not be placed in the person’s personnel file.”  Both sides present to the commission, and the commission has the ability to dismiss the charge, give a 15 day suspension or an indefinite suspension.  That is all.  The firefighter can impose a suspension of 16-90 days on him/herself.  The last step for Civil Service is to appeal to a district court.

Currently under “Home Rule” there is informal and formal discipline.  Informal discipline is given by the supervisor, and starts with counseling, and if the behavior continues, he gets an oral reprimand.  That is all there is to informal discipline.  If the behavior continues, then formal discipline is utilized.  A written reprimand is the next step by an assistant chief or supervising chief.  Next is a suspension, again by the assistant chief or supervising chief.  Next is a demotion, always administered by a panel of assistant chiefs.  And lastly is dismissal, again administered by a panel of assistant chiefs.  The Chief can either reduce the decision or agree.  All formal discipline can be appealed to a third party arbitrator.

As you can see there are several levels of discipline used in the current system.  The civil service only recognizes infractions of a serious nature, and disregards minor infractions that go unpunished.  These minor infractions could lead to serious injury if unaddressed. 

One of our Union firefighters wrote: “Members are disciplined at an alarming rate with punishments far exceeding the circumstances.” This is simply not true!  A comparison reviewing former Chief Paulsgrove’s discipline record compared to Chief Crowson’s, shows that Crowson’s disciplinary actions were 23% less than Paulsgrove’s for the same amount of time.  Concerning the disciplinary actions severity, Crowson has had 4 arbitrations in 6.5 yrs.  Only one was reduced by an arbitrator.  Remember that the Chief doesn’t set the level of punishment, the assistant chiefs do.

I think that the difference in the two systems is best represented by Officer James Dunn’s case in Ft. Worth, which is civil service.  Six years ago Officer Dunn was writing tickets and changing the times so that he could claim overtime that he hadn’t worked.  Essentially stealing money that he didn’t earn from Ft. Worth taxpayers.  He was reinstated because his supervisor didn’t catch the mistakes.  He was awarded all back pay, $400,000 and given his job back.

Arlington recently had 16 officers that were falsely documenting fake traffic stops.  All 16 officers turned in their badges and will never be a police officer in the state of Texas again.  Voters will have an opportunity to select which system they want in the future.  I will be voting NO for civil service on 24 April, the first day of early voting.  Election day is May 6th.

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Promotion


This is the second article in the series on Civil Service and why you should Vote NO on Prop 2.  I think that, when presented with the facts you will see that the current promotional process will be superior to Civil Service in every aspect.  The process for promoting within the Fire Department under Civil Service is contained in Local Government Code Chapter 143.030 thru 143.038.  I will take you through Chapter and Verse of this code.

                                                                                       Civil Service
143.030 (b) Eligibility for promotion requires, at least two years in the position/classification that is immediately below the one in which you are being tested.
143.032 (a) The Commission shall adopt rules governing promotions and shall hold promotional examinations to provide eligibility lists for each classification.
143.032 (B) (c) The examination must be entirely  in writing and may not in any part consist of an oral interview. THIS IS THE BIGGEST DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE TWO SYSTEMS!
143.033 (b) One point is added to the written test score for each year of seniority, up to 10 pts.
                (c) The grade that must be placed on the eligibility list for each fire fighter shall be computed by adding the applicant’s points for seniority to the applicant’s grade on the written examination. ( WELL, SO MUCH FOR WHAT YOU KNOW INSTEAD OF WHO YOU KNOW.  It looks to me like someone who scores lower can be promoted due to seniority.)
                (d)  Within 24 hrs. the Commission will post the raw test scores in the lobby of city hall.
143.036 (a) A vacancy can be filled by the following:  1. Resignation  2.  Retirement  3.  Death  4.  Promotion  5.  Indefinite Suspension  *THIS IS IMPORTANT BECAUSE YOU CAN’T BE FIRED*(REMEMBER THE OPENING PARA OF 143 STATES THAT THIS IS FOR “PERMANENT EMPLOYMENT TENURE” YOU CAN ONLY BE PUT ON INDEFINITE SUSPENSION)
               (b)  The Civil Service Director will certify to the Fire Chief the three persons having the highest grades on the eligibility list.
               (f)  The Chief will appoint the candidate having the highest grade on the eligibility list.  *Ding Ding Ding We Have A Winner But He/She Is Not The Most Qualified Person For The Job!!!!!!!!!!* He/She Is  Only The Person That Scored Well On The Test Without Demonstrating Any Propensity To Accomplish The Job.

                                                                                           Home Rule
Arlington Fire Department Administrative Procedures (Promotions) 101.11
(A,B, & C) Apparatus Operator, Lieutenant and Captain must have held the lower rank for two yrs.  College credits must be obtained as of January 1, 2022 for each rank.
(D) Battalion Chief can hold Lieutenant and have a passing score on the most recent Captain’s exam.  As of January 1, 2022 obtained a Bachelor’s Degree.
(E)  Assistant Chief: hold a rank of Battalion Chief or Captain and have a Bachelor’s Degree currently.
Written Exam:  The Chief will establish a Task Force of six officers of higher rank than that being tested to assemble study materials and construct a test.  A study materials list will be posted 90 days before the test and the number of positions being open will also be posted.  Human Resources and Fire Admin. will administer the exam.  All written test scores will comprise 50% of the total score.
Apparatus Operator:  Will be assessed on technical knowledge, practical driving, equipment operation skills, and other Apparatus Operator related policies and procedures.  (SO YOU TEST AND THEN ALSO SHOW YOUR KNOWLEDGE AND OPERATION OF DRIVING THE VEHICLE)   This practical demonstration will be the other 50% of the total grade.
Lieutenant:  Must hold Fire Officer I Cert and completed Officer Development ”Emergency Operations” or Company Officer I course.
Captain:  Must hold Fire Officer II Cert, and Officer Development “Emergency Operations” course.
Both the Lieutenant and Captain ranks will verbally be interviewed to assess Tactical/Management skills.  They will demonstrate technical, supervisory, tactical knowledge and skills.  The verbal interview will consist of 50% of the grade and added to the examination score.  Additional points can be added for college credits.  These educational points are added to oral and written exams for final placement on the eligibility list.  Seniority in rank is only used as a tie breaker. 

As you can plainly see the interview process is lost in Civil Service.  You only promote via test score, which tells you nothing of the individual you just hired.  Current Home Rule procedure requires you to score well, and also requires you to apply the learned knowledge in scenarios under pressure.  No extra points for seniority, just completed education.  Give me the person that can apply knowledge in a practical sense.  Below is the breakdown:

Civil Service All Ranks:   Two yrs. in grade + Written Test + Seniority pts. = Rank on Eligibility list Must Hire #1.

Home Rule Driver:  Two yrs. in grade + Written Test (50%) + Driving Test (50%) + Educational pts. = Rank on Eligibility list.

Home Rule Lieutenant:  Two yrs. in grade + Fire Officer I Cert. + Officer Development “Emergency Operations” or Company Officer I  + written test (50%) + oral interview (50%) + Educational pts = Rank on Eligibility list.

Home Rule Captain:  Two yrs. in grade + Fire Officer II Cert. + Officer Dev. “Emergency Operations” + Written Test (50%) + Oral Interview (50%) + Educational pts. = Rank on Eligibility list.