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.