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.


  1. Omg. Right on target! Yet the union hacks and it's demoralized and misinformed members will continue to fight for a false calling. Shame
    On you David Crow and your terrorists. Finally a citizen sees the truth!

    From young ambitious fire fighters - not necessarily white, male or old.

  2. 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 ruin an institution that hired and promoted all of them?

  3. Who is this "anonymous" person. Seems made up, fictitious.

    Jay Hummel

  4. How many AFD actually live in Arlington? Dissatisfied employees have a right to resign, too. It seems there are plenty of other neighboring cities that have what you're seeking--Civil Service.


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