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Firefighters favoritism: I don’t think so

Updated: Sep 9, 2022

I have heard some of my opponents in this race try to use my years of service as a fire fighter and as a Battalion Chief in the fire department against me. I’ve heard it said that I’m a one trick pony, that my platform of public safety will be a back door way to use this opportunity as a City Council member to enrich all of my firefighting friends and to boost and protect everyone’s pensions. This is a perfect opportunity for me to use all of my firefighting euphemisms.

Well, let me just dump a bucket of water on that one and put that fire out now.

It takes a certain type of dedication to run into a burning building, to save a life or run into a dangerous or unknown situation. This goes for all of the folks in pubic service. My respect and admiration for them is immeasurable. But they did not get me into this race so I could line their pockets, or my pockets, or play favorites. The recent firefighter’s fight with the City was just another one of the many reoccurring actions for which I see no sound basis for, other than a financial power control, and an unwieldy City Council which does not listen to it’s constituency. This is not a one-issue race, but it’s the same theme recurring with the same players involved with the same end results.

Where there’s smoke there’s fire.

For those of you that don’t know, the quick and dirty background is that the Manhattan Beach Fire Department has been without a contract for the past three or four years. There was also other occurrences where the City Manager made some questionable management hires which created the opportunity to drop a poison pill into the water so any internal management promotions from the rank and file would get a 15% pay cut. Then there were and are still currently positions left vacant within our fire service, thereby continuing a massive overtime bill, to the tune of $2.4 million dollars. This has allowed the current City Council to shape the fire department personal as unreasonable and overpaid, mischaracterizing the situation as a self-induced. This has allowed them to unanimously take the position to ignore legitimate and reasonable contract negotiations, even after the plea from hundreds of residents in City Council chambers. This began my reservations for other items under the control of City Council and the City Manager. To remove the pubic discussion where there is dissention. To remove public comment where there is controversy. And to remove public decision making at the expense of the people of the city.

  • The Highrose Project

  • Council’s uncharacteristic public support of Measure A - though the ridiculous official position is that Council does not involve themselves in anything to do with our public schools

  • the passage of a 2013 ordinance which ties the hands of City’s decision making at the behest of the state,

  • and the increasing consolidation of power by the County and the State to take over City services because of seemingly willful mismanagement by the City Management.

A good firefighter knows how, and educated firefighter knows why.

There is an easy solve for the fire fighters, if the City chose to do so. Fire fighters are mandated to work. Unlike most jobs, they are mandated by minimum staffing rules and regulations. Without the necessary number of staff, overtime is necessary to fill the positions. With the administration’s penalized promotion from within policy, the City Manager gets to bring in Fire Battalion management, which is not necessarily beholden to the rank and file of the department. This is coupled with the fact that less personnel allows less pension money to go back to the state for pubic servants. The result is a massive overtime expense, which gets paid here and now, not down the road, which I believe is the real issue at hand. I believe that the City may be short of funds in the pension requirements, and not bringing in staff is allowing the city to stem the flow of pension obligations. Keep in mind this is also happening at our Police Department. In fact, this is happening throughout all City services. Without a contract, with low morale, and with massive overtime, and the suspicious underfunded pensions makes way for the unspoken plan to push the department towards chaos, dysfunction or insolvency, whereby the County will have to step in, at the request of the City or the residence, to consolidate us into LA County Fire and save the City the financial burden. But keep in mind that our firemen are paramedics can be dispatched to any address in the city within 4 minutes. Remember that the next time a house is on fire or a loved one has a heart attack. When I am elected, I will demand a full forensic accounting on the City’s pension obligations to research this assumption. I have already made inquiries for some information deemed to be publicly facing. I received back some initial information that 32 positions, across all departments, are currently reported as open or in progress.

If you put out the fire, you wont have to jump out the window.

If you hired more firefighters and promoted from within without penalty, you would decrease the overtime, you would have better morale in the department, and on days when staff called out sick or were on vacation, you would brown out certain pieces of equipment and run with the minimum staff, as we do now, everyday. On days when the full roster was at work, you would have more personnel, more equipment on hand, and better service for less money than you currently spend. Sure, you would have a commitment to contributions to retirement plans, but the pensions of old are no more. Public servant pensions are no longer the way they are portrayed. In 2013, the state changed the pension rules requiring more individual contributions, less payouts and restructured public pensions. So, it’s a moot point unless there is something more afoot here. I see it. Many residents are beginning to see it.

A small match still lights a big fire.

I am not running for City Council because of the fire fighters. I am running because the fire fighters are just the latest symptom in a long line of sick patients of the city. The reason for my running in this race is to bring back the tenants to which our civic leaders need to operate – service to the public, integrity in decision-making, accountability for city finances and expenditures. We all need to get involved with the process of running our city. It has gone off the rails and our City Council is not operating for and by the people it serves. Manhattan Beach is at a pivotal point in its history. It doesn’t seem like it since the sun is still shining and we can still go to the beach. The city is improving and investors and families are rebuilding anew, but the true independence and self-governing ability of Manhattan Beach is quickly eroding under our feet.


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