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Palo Alto fires back at fire union president
Original post made
on May 22, 2010
A heated dispute between the City of Palo Alto and its firefighters' union -- even before the two sides sit down to negotiate a contract -- went up a several degrees Friday during a press conference outside City Hall.
Read the full story here Web Link
posted Saturday, May 22, 2010, 6:57 AM
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Posted by Jake
a resident of another community
on May 24, 2010 at 5:57 pm
"excessive staffing" "over compensated"?? According to whom? how did you come to that conclusion? any supporting data? studies? statistics? to back up your claim?
Diana Diamond is not an expert on public safety issues, she spreads non facts and slanders people with false facts.
Taxpayer says reduce staffing by "30%" that equals 9 people on a daily basis or three Engine Companies ie three fire halls closed down. Which three Fire Halls do you propose to shut down?
Like several people have already pointed out, the Fire Dept is already smaller than it was 30 years ago, even though they respond to thousands of more emergencies every year. While most of the other City departments grew in size the Fire Dept got smaller and has made many reductions through the years and eliminated positions. It's much easier to make cutbacks or reduce your departments budget when your department grew in size and added positions, as almost every other PA department did. But now everyone is expected, regardless of need or true cost make reductions.
Taxpayer? I'm curious as to how you could "provide the same level of service and safety for 50% less"? Wow!! I think you might be missing your true calling in life, I'm sure some major city needs a mayor or city manager.
Many people on this board are stating opinions about what firefighters and paramedics do or don't do. The plain fact in most of the cases is, they have no idea! None.
Many people keep bad mouthing the Union or Unions in general. How many union members do you see living in mansions or driving Bently's?
People always seem to drag up an isolated example of some "union rule" etc to paint all unions as bad. How many kids went to college because their Union member parent had a decent working wage to afford sending them to college? Today more than ever executive pay is higher than ever. Companies have figured out they can dump their employees medical insurance and retirement programs onto the taxpayers, ie the average worker. But instead of looking out who is really gaining wealth these days many people fall into the "I don't get that" or "I lost my benefit so you should to" mentality. Works out perfect for the people at the top who are really making millions of dollars per year.
I really like the "outsource the work comments" outsource it to whom?
or turn it over to the private sector comments. The political machine is attempting to use these harse economic times to make major anti labor gains, period. It's got nothing to do with public safety in their eyes. They just want to take away staffing and make reductions to punish those who are perceived to have it so great at their expense.
It's funny almost, but when the boom times were happening and the economy was moving along at it's normal pace many people in Palo Alto could care less about public workers or just look down at them.
Public workers don't get stock options, bonus's, options, cars, food, etc. Many work holidays and long hours. But now the public union workers are being made out by the City of Palo Alto Council people and City Managers Office to be the bad guys.
The City Council past and present needs to look in the mirror for part of the blame! They are the ones who ran many companies out of the City with their half baked pet projects. Instead of fostering a varied economic tax base of goods and services that people need, they ran companies out of the City. Instead many residents of Palo Alto spend money in surrounding cities for goods and services you simply can't get in Palo Alto, period. So instead of the sales tax money staying in Palo Alto, supporting many services and programs, their tax dollars support those programs in Mtn View, Menlo Park, East Palo Alto, etc.
I have seen elected officals shopping for food in Mtn View and Menlo Park, because they even realize people need the basics and Palo Alto has seen to it that you can't get them in PA. Try to find lumber, auto parts, gasoline, cheap food, sporting goods, etc in Palo Alto? can't, hard or very costly. The simple truth is people from Palo Alto need those things and routinly shop outside the City to find them, help those other Cities out financialy in the process.
Tax revinue and good jobs help Cities to provide services. Any high school kid can tell you a healthy financial economy is based on balance.
The petition being circulated is not about pay, benefits or medical insurance. It's about letting the people of Palo Alto decide if they do or do not want their neighborhood fire hall closed down or emergency units eliminated. The people would vote yes or no to proposed reductions in service, that directly affect their lives and property.
Trying to turn this into a pay or benefit issue is simply a tactic by the City Council and City Manager to divert attention away from their goal of reducing emergency response by firefighters and paramedics. Firefighter pay and benefits are pretty much the same in this area for all agencies. If demands for emergency services are going up year after year, along with increased response times, etc why is it the City is blindly (they killed the study on emergency response delivery) moving forward??
The City of Palo Alto studies everything! at a huge cost for many things that have nothing to do with public safety. But now all of a sudden they are racing ahead to reduce staffing and possibly close fire halls. Many Cities have four people on a unit, Palo Alto has three. Three is the minimum, so reducing staffing to a number below three will mean shutting down units and closing fire halls, period.
Two people can hardly care for a injured, dying or person suffering trauma let alone three. Try doing CPR, defibulating, administering IV medictions, etc with just two people? good luck. We are talking real life situations here, not Hollywood, movies or TV. Many Cities garbage trucks have more people on them then their emergency response units do!
Most informed people promote letting the people have a vote, voice and say in important matters that will directly impact their lives.
Signing the petition only puts the proposal on the regular ballot to THEN be voted on. The petition does not put any laws or limitations into place, it only puts the issue to the people to vote yes or no on.
If the City Manager is going to close the fire hall on my block and reduce my paramedic and firefighter service or eliminate it! I would hope that I would have a say in my life and property protection levels, not some City Council person who lives across town! I would hope most people would question the authority of elected officials instead of letting them make blind decisions on my safety.
Voting them out of office after fire halls are closed, property sold off and service levels reduced is after the fact and too late.
Look at the schools that closed? in most of the cases what happens to the property? it gets sold off. We are not talking about reducing bird watching classes here, it's about paramedic and fire protection.
The rest is just smoke and mirrors.
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Posted by Jake
a resident of another community
on May 26, 2010 at 1:45 pm
First, it is not the PAFD or fire fighters union that require a fire engine with a paramedic on it and an ambulance as well to respond. Where you got your information is beyond me, but it sounds exactly like the story that Diana Diamond printed shortly back saying the exact thing. It's simply not true that the PAFD or the fire fighters union require sending both. It's a Santa Clara County requirement and pretty much how it is done throughout the Country.
The fact is the fire engine will almost always get there sooner and start medical aid many minuets before an ambulance can arrive, if an ambulance is available. Many times the ambulance is delayed because they are on another call, at the hospital already or responding from some other part of the County. The paramedic on the Engine is providing the same level of care the ambulance is prior to the ambulance arriving.
As per salaries on average for the entire US? whats your point? The fact is the SF Bay Area is one of the most costly areas to live in. Housing costs here are way above the National average,gasoline,etc. Are you proposing just fire fighters and paramedics get paid only the National average? or should every worker who's pay includes public funding or every worker period get the National average?
In some areas of the Country $45,000 a year is enough to provide a very good standard of living when you factor in housing cost or rent.
In an area where you can buy a house for $100,000 for example $45,000 a year would be a pretty good salary on the surface.
As for market wages? the PAFD is not paid above the market wage for the area, in fact it's below average for the area.
The fact is the CITY MANAGER and CITY COUNCIL instead of hiring people to staff units properly for Units that are needed everyday,
have instead mandated they be staffed with fire fighters and paramedics being paid overtime. Often those people have no say in the matter! they are ordered to continue working. Holidays, family events, prior plans or obligations are then missed. The CITY COUNCIL and CITY MANAGER use their own mandated programs against the PAFD employess in a smear and slander ploy. The CITY COUNCIL and CITY MANAGER mandated the Units be put into service because of increased emergency calls and try to keep up with 911 calls, they then use the "overtime costs" as tool to cloud the issue of protecting the public. Instead of looking at service provided, is it proper, are delays happening, how to handle increased call demands, growing population etc, The CITY MANAGER and CITY COUNCIL killed yet another study of the types, areas, resources, impacts the increased number of calls per year is having on the PAFD.
Instead they cloud any study into whats really happening or not happening by painting the fire fighters and paramedics of the PAFD as self serving. The powers at be also don't tell you the PAFD is smaller and has gotten smaller through the years, regardless of the fact they are responding to thousands of more calls per year. When most other City Departments, including the City Managers Office and the City Council grew in size and added people! The PAFD was already reduced and has given up position after position, at a time when others were adding employees and managers. Making cuts is much easier when you have added employees and have room to make reductions. Also we are talking about the protection of lives and property. If the PAFD had grown to the extent of other City Departments had then there would probably be potential cuts they could make. I have not heard about the CITY COUNCIL proposing they reduce their number of members? they have more members now that increase the cost to the budget.
As for 24 hour shifts and your opinion on how it contains non working time, that is your opinion. If it was cheaper to have three eight hour shifts covering each day or two twelve hour shifts to save money it would have been done long ago! Having 24 hour shifts saves money! if they moved to some other form of covering a 24 hour day the City would need to hire more employees to cover off duty days? or are you proposing the fire fighters and paramedics work seven days a week? They would need to hire additional people to cover the employees who had a shift off.
If every employee regardless of the work public or private was not paid for the time they were not actualy "working" I'm sure the vast majority of workers would be paid far less. I'm sure nobody reading this has ever taken a bathroom break, coffee break, lunch break, sent a private email, taken a personal phone call, spoken with a co worker about a non work related issue, etc.
The bottom line is it does not matter what they are doing or if they have eaten or not, the PAFD responds to emergencies. Does not matter if they are on lunch break, coffee break, etc. They are at work, when you go home at the end of the day or off on holidays, kids game, family event, etc. They are working.
Instead of repeating information that is simply not true or basing your opinion on information that is not true, ask why those at the top for the City Of Palo Alto have thwarted every study into emergency response, not looked at increased emergency responses but instead chosen to cloud the issue by using overtime mandated by the City Council and City Manager against the fire fighters?
Your response and opinions are exactly the reason, people like Diana Diamond make statements and write stories that are not the truth. Many people take what she writes and fact and also what some City Council person says as the god given truth, more times that not its not true in this case. By spreading non truths and attempting to paint the members of the PAFD as self serving, those at the top are using the time proven method for gaining public support for a political purpose.
Demonize a group of people or painting them as
deserving what they get makes it much easier to justify imposing your agenda on them. History has proven that that tactic works.