Category Archives: Fire Department

What’s the Council up to next? Lots of ceremony

Here’s what Tuesday’s City Council meeting looks like: Pray, Pledge of Allegiance and then ceremony (swear in the new mayor), ceremony (swear in a new council member), ceremony (tribute to Bob Martz). Oh, and once the new Council lineup is in place, they’ll dive into several issues.

Here are the hottest items:

  • Pick a new vice-mayor to replace Paul Gray, who is finishing his one-year term. (See procedure here.)
  • Vote to sign an agreement with the US Army Corps of Engineers to do a massive, $4.5 million flood protection project on the Cowskin Creek that will essentially cut a 300-foot wide overflow shelf into the shoreline. City drainage engineers say it could reduce flooding by more than a foot in some residential areas during the type of downpour that comes about once every 100 years. (See previous Eagle story.)
  • Consider a $45,000 contract for drug and alcohol testing of transportation, police and fire employees. That kicks in some new random tests agreed the unions agreed to about a year ago, and it comes at a time when both the police and fire unions’ men and women are working under an expired contract.
  • Decide whether to OK a $67,225 remodel of the planning department’s meeting room that includes audio/visual components.
  • Rename Harvest Park, 9500 Provincial Lane, as “Bob Martz Park” in honor of former District 5 City Council member Bob Martz, who died of an apparent heart attack in January.
  • Vote to rezone an oddly shaped swath of land near McConnell Air Force Base to “Air Force Base District” as part of the city’s massive rezoning around the base to show military officials who may be preparing the next round of base closures McConnell is prepared for future expansion and has terrorism safeguards.

See the full agenda.

Contracts pending, another $20,000 for hired guns

As the Fraternal Order of Police and International Association of Firefighters Union continue to meet with the city about their overdue contracts, the city’s hired lawyers are asking for another $20,000. And the council appears poised to give it to them, based on the fact that no one contested the spending when the council reviewed this week’s agenda last Friday.

The city’s hired lawyers — McAnany, VanCleave and Phillips law firm and Frank Ojile — have already been given $75,000 to be the city’s contract “consultant” and oversee the who-gets-what between the city’s three biggest unions: the FOP, IAFF and SEIU, which represents maintenance and public works employees.

Negotiations at the speed of snail

Remember a month ago when hundreds of police officers picketed City Hall, signs in hand, pleading for more cooperation and fair salaries?

And remember when City Manager George Kolb was on every newscast in town telling taxpayers that they’d either see reduced city services or a tax increase if the police get what they want?

Well, it’s been pretty quiet since — all the salaries are stagnant and so are taxes. Since the PD and city issued a joint press release saying they wouldn’t continue to vent their frustrations and roll out worst case scenarios at each other in the media, the issue has been publicly calm.

Sgt. Chester Pinkston, the union president, tells The Hall Monitor that the city is inching its offer up, little-by-little. But apparently not enough…

“We’re still not near a settlement,” Pinkston said.

“But we’re still optimistic,” he followed. “It’s just moving at a snail’s pace, unfortunately.”

History shows that’s often the way these things go.

Meanwhile, the fire department’s union is in waiting. The city backed out their most recent meeting because one of their players couldn’t make the meeting, Doug Pickard, president of the firefighters’ union, said.

“We’re just kind of treading water,” he said.

It’s not clear how the two contracts fit together, but, according to press release the city handed out in mid-December, “Any contract with this group (being the police) for more than the budgeted 2 percent will further increase pressure for a tax increase or reduction in other services.”

Not exactly a pleasant scenario for city leaders in an election season where most of the 26 candidates out there are repeating the mantra of lower taxes, increased public safety and fiscal constraint.