Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Union Brothers Unite?

As a former Public Safety Union President I am embarrassed by the City Firefighters Union and what they are doing to a fellow union and Fire Department. As reported in the Santa Fe New Mexican and elsewhere the City Fire Fighters Union is not only verbally opposing the County Fire Fighters quest to expand its Fire Department through a county wide gross receipts tax, they are actually going door to door to try and convince voters to turn it down.

Union solidarity has always meant something in America. In fact unions strength through out the years have come from the fact that fellow unions always supported each other. It is through the solidarity of many that victories have been won since the times of sweatshops and indecent working conditions. Today's City Fire Fighters Union seems to have forgotten the struggles of the past and have also lost sight of the fact that in the future someday, perhaps in March when the city's public safety property tax is voted on, they will need the support of fellow unions and the other politically involved people to support them. When the city police and fire unions went to the City Council to ask for raises only a few months ago they fully had the support of county unions and officials, how soon we forget. I in this blog, and on the New Mexican web site urged the city council to give the full raises being asked for instead of half the amount that ended up being passed.

The City Fire Fighters union is really way off on this one. On the one hand they complain that the county should shoulder more of the burden to cover county areas the city is now covering. On the other hand they oppose the tax which would allow the County to expand its Fire Department. The County Fire Department is badly in need of beginning the transition from almost all volunteer, to staffed fire stations with the ability to handle the ever increasing growth in the county. The City cannot have it both ways they cannot complain about the city fire serving county properties out of one side of their mouth and then out of the other side complain about the counties attempts to raise money to remedy the situation. Both of the fire departments are trying to downplay the animosity and lack of cooperation that is developing out of this situation. Those of us in the trenches know different, It will be very unfortunate if a life is lost or a firefighters is hurt because of this lack of leadership and those in public safety forgetting about why they took these jobs in the first place.


Anonymous said...

Outstanding Sheriff! Thanks for the support!

Paramedic Firefighter MIke Ruane

Anonymous said...

Sheriff, just a correction, the city fire department did not ask for raises during the last tax proposal. And since that tax passed and if this one does, if the city fire department in the future needs money. Where do they go next?

Anonymous said...

Sheriff Greg Solano,

As a fellow unionized public service employee I must commend your loyalty to Union rights and responsibilities. But I am concerned your written opinion of the current situation and relationship between City of Santa Fe Fire Fighter’s Association and that of the County Fire Department and its staff can be seen as inflammatory.

The internet has become such a strong medium by which any individual with the talent of the pen, and/or position of title can have or seek dominion over those who may or may not have the resources to investigate the complete facts regarding specific issues. We must show more regard for the facts and facts only.

While it is true that City Firefighters are going door-to-door to convince voters to turn it down, what you fail to state is their efforts to educate the citizens of the City of Santa Fe how this tax will effect them. No one wishes for the County to have less, but neither should the citizens of the City shoulder the load of this tax. You mention the city's public safety property tax vote. I would challenge you to explain that additional tax to a tax paying citizen within the City of Santa Fe, when they ask, “hey, didn’t we just pay for that last fall?” Are you willing to go door-to-door to tell the Citizens of the City of Santa Fe, that money was to benefit County services and residents only; this property tax is in addition. Could you, in good conscience, go to your constituents in the County and ask for money for the City’s Fire Department only? I think not.

You state you are embarrassed by the actions of the City Firefighter’s Union. Those actions may be unfortunate, but is it not the responsibility of the Unions to educate and protect the best interests of those they serve? I agree the County residents deserve the best Fire, EMS and Law enforcement protection available and we should seek all available resources, but not at the cost of duping the citizens of the City into paying for services they will not receive. There must be a better way.

Instead of overheating the issue through this medium, I encourage you to have a face-to-face conversation with an officer from the City’s Fire Union and you might have a better understanding of their efforts. I am confident they would be happy to entertain that request.

With all due respect and also “from in the trenches,”

Pelly Hutton

Sheriff Greg Solano said...

The largest argument from the City Union seems to be that citizens from the city will be paying for services they do not use. Lets put this argument to the test.

lets say you are driving down Highway 14 to visit a friend, or the 599 bypass or I-25 to go to Albuquerque or Espanola, or you are headed out to dinner at El Gancho on Old Las Vegas Hwy. While on your way you are struck by a drunk driver. The county Sheriff will respond, the County paramedics will respond and you will be taken care of and treated. You will not be asked where you live or if you pay city or county taxes.

We all pay State Taxes. Some of your taxes go to Clovis, Albuquerque, Hobbs or Rio Rancho. They go to build librarys, Fire Stations, and Senior Citizen centers. Whey you visit those communities and use these facilities or need assistance of police or fire, no one will ask where you live or where you pay your taxes.

The Santa Fe County Sheriff's office has lately been taking many calls for the Short Staffed City Police. We also provide over 25 deputys to work the city fiesta's celebrations at no cost whatso ever to the city. This is not about what we do in the city or what the city does in the county. We are all public servants and as such we serve all the public. This is as it should be.

Anonymous said...

Well put Sherrif. Taxes are paid by everyone (usually) for the benefit of the masses, or where the needs are determined to be. ENOUGH already with the double talk! City services will now be able to stay in the city for our city residents (or county residents in the city limits, tourists..)is that not what the city wants? Plus we are getting a windfall of >$2M for our share of the RECC! I see that as a benefit to me as a city firefighter (there I said it)and the city has to appreciate freeing up that $$ I am sick of running calls out into the county,however, I still look forward to helping my union bro's out at "the big one". Come on guys, let's get along and plan for helping us get our prop tax measure passed! We ALL win, but more importantly "Mrs. Smith" wins.

Anonymous said...

Both sides have stated their views and the voters have spoken.
Let it be.