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.


  1. Thank you, Charlie. This is info that every voter should consider. I went to the "Vote Yes" website and got no in-depth info addressing egregious problems that need to be overcome.

    I will vote "no".

  2. I worked for Arlington EMS for just shy of two years. In my 12 years of 911 EMS experience I have never seen any other department so content in their mediocrity and so resistant to improving as Arlington Fire. The last thing we need is for them to have even less accountability than they do now.

  3. Mr./Mrs. Anonymous I can only assume that your experience with Arlington Fire was some time ago. I would like to think that we have picked up our game since that time. But I do appreciate the fact that you realize that civil service breeds even greater mediocrity, instead of improvement.

  4. Mr Parker thank you for speaking out against the bully union thugs. It's shameful that they hide and won't have a public debate about civil service. At their union meetings the eboard controls the agenda and no alternatives are discussed. As a younger member of the dept I have no voice. The angry officers in the union are in a personal war against the city. And trust me, they intimidate all the junior members. I hope the city defeats Civil service soundly and starts holding the accountable.

  5. Mr. Parker,

    How does Civil Service have anything to do with the negotiations between the city and firefighters, past or present? How is the city affected financially? I just don't see how that is revelant to the proposition and how that would pursuade me to vote yes or no if this proposition is not about all of that. If Chapter 143 of the Government Code has nothing about taxes in it, does that mean what firefighters claim is true, that it won't raise or cost us any taxes? If so how? Currently the city holds an entrance exam to apply for the fire department or am I wrong? Along with polygraph test, background checks, physical tests and interviews do they not? How would that change if it were civil service? In other civil service departments they do hold a written test, but they also do the polygraph test, background checks, physical tests and interviews. So how is it different then what we as a city do now? Would it set a standard for hiring that is more FAIR to everyone?

    From my opinion Firefighters do their jobs regardless rather they have overtime or not; or has there been a time when they haven't responded to an emergency due to the overtime being reduced as you described above. Since overtime was reduced so much how many fire trucks have to go unstaffed when firefighters are sick or on vacation?

    Are other residents aware that with the budget cuts and reduced overtime the closest station may be unstaffed in case they were need and another fire crew would need to respond from farther away? How does the city or council members feel about putting its citizens in more danger because the city wanted to save money versus lives? In the fire service that extra minute or two could mean life or death, rather its a cardiac arrest, a major accident, or their house on fire with people trapped. When does a life of your citizens become more important then the money you save us.

    If the city council can not figure out how to make the budget work charge the extra tax if you have to, but at least we know help is near by if we need it.

    Since that is not something we are voting on back to the civil service topic. If money makes no difference on this decision, then with all those other topics aside Why is Civil Service not good for the city and how it dofferent then our cirrent hiring practice? Would we not want a more fair process?

    I also find it hard to believe that it gurantees permanent employment. Maybe it makes it more standardized, but not permanent. Other civil service cities have terminated employees so how is that permanent? Do you think people are ok with us being an AT WILL department? most employers have rules to terminate someone from employment, why shouldn't our firefighters have the same?

    Look forward to your response on this blog. Thank you for your time.

  6. Mr./Mrs. Anonymous thank you for speaking out. I know as a new hire it is hard to speak out against the old salts. They will come after you if you speak out, so keep your powder dry. I find it interesting that of the 316 sworn firefighters only 80 live in Arlington. 236 don't have a vested interest in this city. I have absolutely no respect for bullies. We have given them a great wage in the best big city in the south, protecting good citizens and they pull this stuff. This is unionism at its worst. To prove it they put out this sign. No Taxes! We're not even talking about taxes. Don't get me started on bad unions.

  7. I can't find any information on prop 2. What is it??

  8. Mr. Lengthy Anonymous you have asked 13 questions and stated "us" in your comment, so I can assume that you are an Arlington Firefighter. I will pick a few of your questions that are relevant. 1) How is the city affected financially? It isn't, I intend to take every dime that it takes to set up and maintain civil service out of your paychecks. That would be about $450k.
    2)If Part 143 has nothing to do with taxes does that mean what the firefighters say is true? What the firefighters are saying with their sign is total BS. I explained this on the blog. You might as well say vote Yes Better Roads. Your executive board is misrepresenting what a Yes vote will bring. You know it and they do also so don't play stupid like you don't understand what you're doing. I have lost all respect for the firefighters union for pulling this stunt. 3) You asked about the hiring process and how it would change. Part 143.021 (c) States it plainly: a position or classification... may be filled only from an eligibility list that results from an examination held in accordance with this chapter. 143.025 (b) states: A person may not be appointed to the fire department except as a result of the examination. So as you can see the exam is what gets you hired or promoted. There is no interview or physical demonstration. It is a number on a piece of paper, not the person. The sensible hiring process that you were hired under will be gone forever. You call this a fair process, I do not. I certainly wouldn't want to go into a burning building with someone who hasn't demonstrated that he/she couldn't carry me out. That is just common sense. I will address this and most of your other question in individual articles. (4) Lastly you asked: "Other civil service cities have terminated employees so how is that *not* permanent? Part 143.052 (b) An indefinite suspension is equivalent to dismissal from the department. Part 143.052 (g) Conviction of a felony it is grounds for dismissal. But indefinite suspension is what is used if you read further into the para.. Indefinite suspension is a process where individuals are still maintained on the city books, even though they aren't accruing pay or benefits, until they resign or die. That is the only difference between dismissal and indefinite suspension.
    Look if you are for civil service and you don't know these simple things then shame on you for not doing your homework. You are currently campaigning for something that you know nothing about. I will tell you this. If civil service is passed, what you have in part 143 is what you are going to get. The council has no appetite for giving you anything that isn't in that section. All of your extra pays will go bye bye. Everything that was given to you through council will go away. There will be no cherry picking of current benefits. Your president stated in my town hall, they are going to take away our benefits. No, you are!

  9. And individual wrote that they wanted to know what Prop 2 was? The firefighter union is trying to move away from the city umbrella to the protection under state civil service. If you go back and read all the articles that I have written it will give you a healthy understanding of what they are trying to accomplish.

  10. .....

    As you stated section 143.021 (C) and 143.025 (b) does say it must be filled from an eligibility list from an examination held and that a person may not be appointed. What that means is that someone cannot be hired without going through the process like everyone else as outlined in the chapter. That is fair to everyone don’t you think so? Plus, Arlington Fire currently holds a written exam to make an eligibility list. Those “eligible” continue on with background checks, physical exams, the 1.5 mile run, interview and other steps. Civil Service does the same thing. The exam does rank you by numbers, but it simply makes you eligible to continue. Arlington currently does the same exact thing. You did forget to mention that in section 143.022 its states that “the commission shall set age and PHYSICAL requirements for its applicants for beginning and promotional positions in accordance with this chapter.” It also goes on to state how the commission may require a mental examination. So getting hired is not JUST from a number on a piece of paper. They still have to go through basically the same process Arlington currently uses. Again, I fail to see your point on how this change would hire people from ONLY a written exam.

    You say the current hiring process will be gone forever. If it is that bad for everyone it can be switched back. There is a section that states how to repeal it, basically the same way to get it, through an election. So it will not be gone forever.

    You are right I wouldn’t want to go into a burning building with someone who hasn’t demonstrated that he/she couldn’t carry me out. That is why there are those requirements as I stated above. Not only that but to be a Texas certified Fire Fighter in the first place you have to go through a fire academy to become certified which also requires someone to demonstrate their physical abilities. Civil service actually covers the physical part twice if you consider the state certification and section 143.022.

    Indefinite suspension, dismissal, removal or termination = no longer working for the department, getting paid or getting any benefits. No matter what term you choose to use it all ends in the same result. Section 143.051 actually states several ways the cause for a removal of a firefighter, not just one. The felony conviction is only the first one listed. To name a few: acts of incompetency, acts showing lack of good moral character, violating a special order, neglect of duty, among others. Then there is a disciplinary suspensions section. It also states in sec. 143.053 how a suspended person can be dismissed. Section 143.052 states how a firefighter can be indefinitely suspended for violating a civil service rule and how that is equivalent to a dismissal.

    I am for civil service and I do know the simple things along with the not so simple ones so I have done my homework thank you very much. It seems you might have overlooked and missed a few things here and there. If someone is to convince me to vote no I would want to know the entire truth not just bits and pieces of it.

    What the union is trying to accomplish is give firefighters a more stable and consistence process. Civil Service is something that has no political influence and would apply to everyone equally.

    I understand you dislike the union and I cannot speak on behalf of the union but I can speak on civil service. Those two are totally different things. Doing what is right for our firefighters in this city is what is important to me. The union may have lost your trust and support, but the firefighters are people just like us and employees of the city. They deserve fairness just like everyone else does. Try not to let the union keep you from seeing how our firefighters are affected.

    If you disagree I can respect that, but let the people that vote for you know everything and not just bits and pieces of it.

    LA (Lengthy Anonymous)

  11. It is amazing that we apparently can look at the same words and not get the same meaning 143.021 and 025 tell you explicitly that you have to hire from the list that is comprised of the individuals that have taken the test. An existing position or classification … may be filled only from an eligibility list that results from an examination. .026 (b) From the three names certified, the chief executive shall appoint the person having the highest grade. That to me certainly sounds like appointment by test score. Several people have stated that they want people to be hired fairly. What you know not who you know. But nepotism is rampant in civil service. It sounds to me that daddy is more likely to get junior hired with civil service than the way Arlington is currently hiring.
    You have stated that the commission will set PHYSICAL requirements. But they are nothing like the display of physical capability required by Arlington. It is simply a physical and mental balance, .022 (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, Does it look like you have to run or display strength? No, not with civil service. You are reading way too much into the words or not understanding them. You speak of going through a fire academy. That is not a requirement to test and we just said that promotions are from the test. We just hired a guy that is not fire academy qualified. So under civil service you wouldn’t know if he could carry you out of a building or not. Fortunately, Arlington requires such displays of physical strength before hiring.
    Indefinite suspension is actually the same as dismissal 143.052 says so. So if you are dismissed from the department you are put on indefinite suspension. You aren’t getting paid or accruing benefits, but you are kept on the books by the city. Just like the cop that was given his job back. The article clearly states that he was on indefinite suspension for six years. To prove this further look at 143.036 A vacancy in a fire fighter position described by this subsection occurs on the date the position is vacated by:
    (1) resignation;
    (2) retirement;
    (3) death;
    (4) promotion; or
    (5) issuance of an indefinite suspension in accordance with Section 143.052(b).
    It doesn’t say fired, terminated, removed. But .052 does say: An indefinite suspension is equivalent to dismissal from the department. The only civil service violation that will get you an indefinite suspension or dismissed is a felony conviction. That is the only violation that is singled out. The rest are suspensions.
    Lastly you have stated that the firefighters deserve fairness. They are getting fairness. They are getting a well-paying job , watching over wonderful people in the best big city in the south. What is wrong with that? They came here and didn’t have civil service and now they want a change. Then go to a department that has it. Coming here and wanting to change to civil service is like an illegal alien wanted everyone to speak Spanish. Go back to the “Ridiculous” article and read the progression. The union won’t be happy with civil service, they want the Chief gone. That is the real issue.

  12. Some time during this week I will compose an article about hiring and promotion. What certain firefighter don't understand is that if civil service is approved you will get exactly what is printed in Part 143, no more and no less. There will be no Meet and Confer just the commission. So I really don't care what other fire departments have currently as far as procedures, because whatever is written in the statute is it. So I can assure you that all the stories of other departments in the area will not happen in Arlington.

  13. Posted by Rob Lane on Nextdoor website:

    "A Prop 2 supporter stated: "Promotions should be based on what you know, not who you know". A short but misleading catch phrase.

    As a manager for over 15 years, who both tests and interviews candidates, promoting based on test score alone is very short-sighted. While a test score is an important factor, many personal characteristics also influence the promotion decision including trustworthiness, accountability, honesty, ownership attitude, and being team player, to name a few. These personal attributes are demonstrated over time, not on a test.

    Reputation matters, and removing hiring discretion weakens the team, raising a question of safety.

    Personally, I can't support Prop 2.


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