Thursday, June 19, 2008

Transition to a paid fire department

Some of you may have read my post from last week about the then-upcoming Council meeting and my concerns about a vote to begin a transition to a paid fire department. Well, despite the appearance of someone trying to sneak this past the voters by using the consent calendar it did get removed (to Tim Slocum's credit) and if I heard Matt Hall correctly... pushed back to next week's tentatively-scheduled June 24 meeting.

Anyway, aside from what appeared to be a complete abuse of the consent calendar (there's no discussion permitted on the consent calendar), I have other issues with this.

First and foremost is the basic premise that this vote would be the beginning of a transition to a paid fire department. And regardless of whether I think this is the most important issue facing the Council... and regardless of whether I think it is of the utmost urgency... I also firmly believe that in many ways, the volunteer fire department does not report to the Council. Rather, it reports directly to the voters... as it consists of voters... and the voters consistently support the FD enthusiastically. And for that reason, I firmly believe that before this transition to a paid department begins... this request is unlike others... and the case needs to be made to the public... not just to the Council. So I hope that before this ever comes for a vote, staff will have conducted some basic media outreach, gotten some article placements and generated a public dialogue. At that point, after I've gotten some feedback from voters... I'll feel much more comfortable voting on this.

But there are other issues of concern to me on this particular issue. For instance... this same request got onto the Council agenda's consent calendar about three years ago (Republican majority for those of you keeping track). I remember thinking the same thing then as I'm thinking now... "how the hell did a transition to a paid fire department get on the consent calendar?"

Anyway, after David Orsini explained to me that the consent calendar was normally reviewed by David Schrumm... and David Schrumm had been out of town at the time the agenda was drafted (though the consent calendar would still go through Mr. Schrumm's 7pm Tuesday night Budget Committee meeting that would be held before coming to the full Council at 7:30pm)... I understood why no elected officials had caught this particular item before it appeared on the consent calendar that, as usual, got dropped off by the police on a Friday night back in the summer of 2005. But by Tuesday I had read the "Council pack" and was somewhat concerned about the appearance of someone trying to "slip this by," particularly without discussion. So, feeling that it would be inappropriate for me to directly contact staff on what I felt was an issue that needed to be addressed by the full Council... I called Matt Hall and asked him to help me find the six votes that would be necessary to enter executive session to discuss "personnel issues." Needless to say, when the transition to a paid fire department first appeared on the consent calendar... we never went into executive session... the item was pulled without much discussion by the Council... which was fine with me at the time. But now that this has happened a second time, I'm very concerned about this.

Additionally, I just want to offer you some insight as to how I try to perform my role as a Councilman. Basically... if I see something get screwed up once or someone drop the ball once... I don't say a word to anyone, except perhaps to the person directly involved. But when I see a pattern of something... I'm going voice my concerns. And since I know some of you have wondered about some changes in my rhetoric over the past year... if this abuse of the consent calendar concerns you, as it does me, then please trust me... this is the tip of the iceberg.

Tim White

10 comments:

conflicts of interest? said...

In the past few years, the Council has created two paid FD positions: Chief & fire marshall.

Before those positions were paid, they were filled by Casner and Youngquist.

After those positions were paid, they were filled by Casner and Youngquist.

This new position is for a safety officer. The current safety officer is Hershmann.

I wonder if Hershmann (of Baillie, Hall & Hershmann) will get the paid position?

Will Hall be voting on it?

If Hershmann gets the job, will he be selling his share of the law partnership to Hall and Baillie?

Who will determine fair market value of his share?

Maybe Hall can ask Chris Dodd for some "banking advice" on the deal?

Anonymous said...

Wow!
This is the reason why this blog is so important to our community.
How many of our citizens would know that this is what our town mayor is trying to pull off if it wasn't for Tim and the others who comment here.
Is he doing it for the good of our town or for the good of the Hall family pockets?
Tim, you can't allow him to do this!

Anonymous said...

Tim:

Thanks for pointing this out. It's another attempt to sneak something through.

Who decided that this had to go on the Consent Calendar? It is important that the public know exactly who is pushing for it and that they attempted to sneak it by the voters.

During the Northend hearings, many people were worried about that it would force a paid fire dept, and now we see that that is exactly what they are pushing.

We already have too many paid fire positions and these should be eliminated. We don't need a safety officer, it's all bull s&*^.

As for Hall and the NE, tell me he or his firm hasn't done real estate closings or legal work for the owners of the 107 acres.

Anonymous said...

And while we're talking about town council members coming clean, Mr. Altieri needs to disclose any interest his family members have in selling turf to the HS.

west cheshire said...

If the implications of "conflicts of interest", above, are true, then Matt Hall should resign as Mayor and council chair.

I say this in all sincerity and without political intent. The chief elected official of the town should have only an aura of integrity about him/her.

Let him resign as mayor and keep his council seat until the next election. Let the council majority choose another mayor.

Altieri and Ecke are out: questions about conflict of interest and honesty. Esty has no such baggage, but her running for higher office makes her too political to be mayor. That leaves Laura DeCaprio.

Anonymous said...

Conflict of interest, lets review the positions:

Hall - lawyer, does real estate closings partner with Ballie and Hershman. Does real estate closings, gave Regional Water Authority to Dave Borowy, past mayor, earns a living in real estate.

Ecke- Brother is the football coach and ardent supporter of not instilling discipline on the football team. Same guy who told the football to make sure they did good on their exams because the Spring was canceled due to concerns of athletics over academics.

Alteri-Lover of all things sports and a supporter of education. Rumored has ties to artificial turf sales through family members.

Esty - Hope she gets elected to the State office, better there than here, she will do less damage to our Town as rep to the State than as Town Council member.

DeCaprio - No clue, she can stay

Slocum- caved in on the Norton boiler, did not understand. Local business man, has no apparent conflicts with the developers and real estate bosses of Cheshire.

Rocco- no apparent conflicts as of date.

White - Has some good ideas but does not follow through.

Sima - No conflicts at all, just wants what is best for the Town

Anonymous said...

Why the heck do we need a paid safety officer. What do we have a paid Fire Chief for if he can't also schedule a few safety classes and bring in an expert to assess what we are doing and what we should do if there are any needed improvements. Exactly what does the chief do? What does the paid fire marshal do?

We have 2 too many paid fire department positions and I can't see that we are any safer or better off.

If any of these paid people fall out of bed, can they then claim a disability for which the town will then pay them some outlandish sum for the rest of their life? Or can they claim a disability for hypertension and we all know hypertension is a bunch of baloney.

We got an Information Officer and we don't get any more information than we did before.

hamden neighbor said...

RE: "Esty - Hope she gets elected to the State office, better there than here, she will do less damage to our Town as rep to the State than as Town Council member"

Please DON'T inflict her on the whole state of Connecticut! She really can do a lot of damage in Hartford which WILL come back to haunt Cheshire....and all the other towns.

Please look at the bigger picture. I appeal to your greater patriotism....don't send Esty to Hartford!

Anonymous said...

What a mess. Help!!!

Anonymous said...

See the sewer.
The sewer is dark.
See rats in the sewer.

See Tim.
Tim has a light.
See the light shine.

Matt and Matt run.
Run, rats, run!
See the rats run.