Friday, July 24, 2009

Firefighters: Barely a slap on the wrist

A surprisingly mild account from Tom Francis of the result of the Deerfield Beach Fire-Rescue investigation: (My reaction below Tom's)

An internal investigation of Deerfield Beach Fire-Rescue's involvement in the city's March municipal investigation found that six employees committed ethical violations. But those violations -- storing political material in the fire station and wearing their work pants on the campaign trail -- weren't serious enough to cost the employees their jobs. Instead, they'll be given counseling.That's the determination of Robert Weech, the assistant fire chief who investigated the allegations and whose one page memo to Chief Anthony Stravino is -- according to the city manager's office -- the only public record the department generated from its investigation, which consisted of interviews with 22 firefighters.

Read his entire article here:

http://blogs.browardpalmbeach.com/juice/2009/07/ethics_deerfield_firefighters_noland_campaign.php#more

The investigation raises a few questions in my mind.

1. The inquiry was conducted by an assistant fire chief. An in house investigation, not exactly an unbiased investigation. Are we surprised at the outcome?

2. This outcome determined that the actions weren’t serious enough for the miscreants to lose their jobs. I guess I agree with that, BUT, I sure would want them to remember this lesson for the rest of their lives. And would want their punishment to send a strong message to other employees that elections have rules for a reason; unfair elections are no good for anyone. And maybe to THINK a little before whooping and hollering for a candidate while partially in uniform.

3. What is with a one page report? 20 people were interviewed and no one took notes? How is this possible?

4. What kind of counseling? I can just imagine. We have Captain Regis Smeltz allowing election materials to be stored at the fire house while he was station commander and all we get is a “Record of counseling”??? How about a letter of reprimand in his file, how about a week of suspension without pay, how about an apology to the citizens of Deerfield Beach for an attempt to unethically influence an election.

5. Who did the counseling? What was said? Is this not public record? If it was would we learn that Bobby told Reggie that it was no big deal but he shouldn’t get caught again, and oh, yeah, Reg, keep the signs in your car, not your locker. And, good going getting the mayor who has relatives on the department elected, our pensions should be safe now, heh, heh.

Way to go guys, in building the public’s confidence in our public employees, next time no one will bother to report these kinds of things. Happy now, yup, I guess so, maybe that was the plan.

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