No announcement yet.

Clearwater Florida--Fire Chief Dismisses 2 Deputies

  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • captstanm1
    St. Petersburg Times--North Pinellas

    Battle between city, firefighters may end
    With no guarantees and latent contention, negotiators have pulled together a three-year salary package.

    By JENNIFER FARRELL, Times Staff Writer
    Published December 7, 2003

    CLEARWATER - After a bitter 18-month standoff between City Hall and its firefighters union, half the battle may finally be over.

    Last week, negotiators hammered out a tentative three-year salary deal that would pay each firefighter a retroactive $1,000 bonus for last year, plus raises of 2 percent this year and 3 percent next year. The bonus covers the time firefighters worked without a contract.

    The agreement still must be ratified by the union and city commissioners. Left unsettled are a handful of other issues including a contentious dispute about the number of hours firefighters work each week.

    But city officials hailed the agreement as progress, however incremental.

    "I think both sides are slowly moving to the middle," City Commissioner Frank Hibbard said Friday.

    Said Commissioner Hoyt Hamilton: "I believe I see light at the end of the tunnel."

    But John Lee, president of Clearwater Firefighters Local No. 1158, said the agreement is likely to create controversy among firefighters, who would rather have a retroactive raise in the first year of the contract, instead of the one-time bonus. Another new provision requiring paramedics to remain certified throughout their careers is also likely to be criticized, according to Lee.

    City officials tout their plan to pay extra for certified paramedics, whether or not they act in that capacity full-time.

    Lee said he could not predict the union's response.

    "I'm just going to take it to the membership, and let 'em speak their peace," he said Thursday. "That's all I can do."

    Lee said he will hold meetings to explain the proposal to union members, but suggested he is disappointed with the pay deal.

    "Our stuff shows that we deserve more money than what has actually been offered to us," he said.

    On Friday, City Commissioner Whitney Gray said Lee's lukewarm comments suggest he doesn't support the agreement he helped negotiate.

    "I think it's his way of sabotaging it," she said. "This is the kind of playing around that has dragged this thing out for 18 months."

    Firefighters have been working more than a year without a contract as union leaders have pushed for higher wages during agonizing talks. In August, union members overwhelmingly rejected a tentative three-year deal with annual pay increases of 2 percent. The vote was 141 against, only 7 in favor of the plan.

    The new agreement came after two days with a special master, charged with making recommendations by Dec. 19 on how to resolve issues that remain on the bargaining table.

    If both sides can't agree, city commissioners will impose a one-year contract after a hearing on Jan. 14 to settle the impasse.

    The new salary proposal maintains the department's "step" plan, which guarantees firefighters automatic pay hikes totaling 25 percent over their first five years and another 15 percent boost over their following 12 years.

    City officials had pushed to eliminate the plan over loud and angry objections from the union.

    On Friday, City Commissioner Bill Jonson applauded the compromise.

    "I'm thrilled," he said, adding later, "It shouldn't have been that tough."

    With salary issues largely out of the way, the major battle appears to be about time on the job.

    The union wants to reduce its work week from 56 hours to 52 hours over the next three years. But the city negotiators say it would be too expensive to hire the extra firefighters necessary to do that.

    With the impasse hearing a month away, pressure is mounting to reach a common ground.

    If the union doesn't ratify the contract imposed by the commission, the raises proposed in the tentative salary agreement would disappear.

    Late last month, Harold A. Schaitberger, general president of the International Association of Firefighters, accused the city of failing to negotiate in good faith. In a letter dated Nov. 20, he suggested Clearwater is trying to bust the fire union.

    "But if the City believes that Local 1158 can be busted," Schaitberger wrote, "it is deeply mistaken."

    This week, City Manager Bill Horne denied the claim and downplayed the letter, saying it is not uncommon for national union representatives to advocate on behalf of local memberships during protracted negotiations.

    "It's no big deal," Horne said.

    He added that the city's labor attorney has suggested responding to the letter, but went on to say that the city has not decided on precise language.

    On Friday, Mayor Brian Aungst said he would like to finish contract talks and move on.

    "I think everyone realizes that no one wins if we go to impasse," he said. "I'm hoping it doesn't get to that point."

    - Jennifer Farrell can be reached at 445-4160 or [email protected]

    Leave a comment:

  • captstanm1
    Related Letter to the Editor

    St. Petersburg Times--Letters to the Editor

    Clearwater firefighters deserve fair pay increase
    Re: The Clearwater firefighters.

    An esteemed state senator decides to retire after years and years of service to the state. He's set for life, huh? A pension beyond belief, with health care and God knows what else these "servants" get for the rest of their days. Speaking engagements alone will bring in more money than you will ever see. And, oh, these folks were able to give themselves pay raises while in office. What a life!

    Did you see that football game last weekend? Yeah, I know, we lost. But did you see our star back? He was unstoppable. Why, the game wouldn't have even been close if he wasn't in there. I understand that he makes about $5-million a season . . . worth every dime, wouldn't you say?

    Hey, the latest movie starring our favorite movie star is a real stinker, ya think? Do you know that he is guaranteed a cool $20-million for his films, good or bad? Is this a great country or what? Trust me, he'll earn every dollar with his next release and you'll love it.

    I just read that firefighters saved the lives of a local family yesterday.

    I am not against the concept of making as much money as you can in this life, nor am I going to tell you that if someone wants to pay you an incredible amount of moolah for your services, you should not take it. Politics, sports and entertainment are what they are, and that will never, ever change. They do seem to take on a higher importance in our lives than some of the more "mundane" goings-on . . . like saving lives or risking yours.

    I truly believe that in a perfect world athletes et al. would make a comfortable living while true public servants would be handsomely rewarded. I'm only dreaming.

    In that perfect world, every single citizen would be on the steps of City Hall, for however long it took, to demand that this controversy (with the Clearwater firefighters) be resolved, with a fair increase to our true public servants and put a stop to all this posturing.

    Every one of us needs these servants/services well ahead of anything - and I mean anything - else. This is something that can be changed but, hey, it's late and it's just about kickoff time.

    -- Michael DePrisco, Clearwater

    Leave a comment:

  • captstanm1
    Letter to the Editor

    ST. Petersburg Times--North Pinellas

    Fire department firings strike at residents
    I retired from the city of Clearwater after working there more than 29 years - almost nine years in the police department and more than 20 years in the fire department.

    Clearwater is a great place to raise your family, due in large part to city employees, including the fire department. Problems between city administration and the fire department should be kept just there and not spread to the taxpaying residents of this city.

    I very much fear that the firing of assistant fire chiefs Gordon Yaudes and Peter Huffman was more for personal reasons between city administrators and the fire department than for any other reason, especially since these men received outstanding yearly evaluations (public record) from their supervisors.

    These two men are among the best employees I have ever worked with, here or anywhere else. They are not only good people but were exceptionally competent in their positions. They will be very hard to replace.

    Secrets in the fire department are very hard to keep. Unless our city manager knows something no one else knows, this firing was not only against the fire department but also against the residents of Clearwater. The people of Clearwater should take interest in this firing and demand to know why these good men were let go. City administrators are supposed to work for us - we pay their salaries.

    -- Walter A. Yasensky, Retired Clearwater firefighter, Clearwater

    Leave a comment:

  • captstanm1
    Letter to the Editor

    Letters to the Editor---St. Petersburg Times

    Yaudes, Huffman deserve jobs returned

    I have been waiting patiently for the Clearwater city commissioners to do something about this terrible injustice being done to (former assistant fire chiefs) Pete Huffman and Gordon Yaudes. I am having a hard time believing Clearwater can be doing this to two of its finest.

    What is wrong with you people? Have you no backbone to sit back and allow this to happen? These men put their lives on the line every day and they deserve so much more. I do believe Clearwater had better do some serious soul searching. Can you please tell us exactly what they have done to deserve this horrible treatment?

    I have a nagging question in my head. If these two men were black, would this or could this be done to them? You would have the NAACP on your neck so fast it wouldn't be funny.

    -- Sylvia Campbell, Largo

    Leave a comment:

  • captstanm1
    November 11 Letter to the Editor

    St. Petersburg Times Letters to the Editor

    Seek answers about Fire Department

    First of all, I am proud to be a firefighter for the Clearwater Fire Department for the past 22 years. In that time, it has been my privilege to serve the citizens of Clearwater. I, and the numerous crews that I have served with, have answered every call that's been dispatched to us, from minor to serious, morning to night, to help out those in need in any way possible.

    Now, it is the firefighters themselves who need help, and it is the citizens of Clearwater who we are appealing to. The Oct. 26 editorial, City must rein in Fire Department, is what spurred me to write. It is just the latest in a string of articles and editorials that have misled the public and conveniently omitted the real reasons behind some of the actions that our fire union members have been taking lately to draw attention to our plight.

    The members of Clearwater Fire and Rescue are some of the most dedicated, competent and professional firefighters and paramedics anywhere. All we are asking is to be compensated fairly for the dangerous and necessary job that we do.

    The editorial states that "high-ranking city officials are united in the firm belief that Clearwater firefighters are paid well for the work they do." These officials didn't have any problem accepting their raises, in some cases four times what was offered to us. City Manager Bill Horne was "a bit underpaid?" Yeah, right!

    Last month, my crew courageously attempted to save an elderly woman's life when her mobile home exploded into flames. Talk about a bit underpaid!

    Later, we're called "whiny" by one of those same high-ranking officials. Low morale? Yes, and I know who caused it.

    Citizens of Clearwater, you need to know that qualified applicants are already turning down offers from Clearwater to work elsewhere and that many of our best new hires are seriously considering taking their skills to other cities where they are appreciated and compensated more. Do the citizens of Clearwater really want their emergency services to be staffed by whoever's left to take that position, instead of the best candidates available?

    The editorial also states that this is "nothing less than a struggle for control of the Fire Department and its future." What a ridiculous statement! City management just fired, for no good reason, two of the most competent chief officers that this city or any other has ever had. Why? Because they were firefighters to the end and they would never be the "yes men" that city management expected of them.

    I urge all citizens of Clearwater to find out more about what's really going on in your Fire Department. Stop and ask the firefighters themselves to answer your questions, then ask those same questions of our city officials. The answers will vary greatly. Decide for yourself whose side you believe. And if it's the firefighters, please let your elected officials know.

    -- Steve Langevin, Dunedin

    Leave a comment:

  • ClwFF309
    Letter to the Commissioners

    This is a letter that was written by my father who is a resident of the city of Clearwater.... Here is the website for the Clearwater Fire Fighters Union.... http://www.iaff1158.org/home.html

    As a resident of the city of Clearwater, and more importantly a voter in the city of Clearwater, I am appalled at the way the Firefighters
    of my city have been treated. I will not vote for or support a city
    commission that allows the city manager to dismiss two well liked and
    highly decorated leaders of the Fire Department. These two men
    should not have been used as pawns in the contract negotaions between
    the city and the Fire Department union. City manager Bill Horne has
    been given a very nice raise while he will not negogiate with the
    Fire union. It is unreal that Mr. Horne can use cities of comparable
    size and population to obtain his raise, yet, the firefighters were
    not allowed to use the same city's to justify their own raise. Let it
    be clear that unless I see some support from the city commission
    given to the fire department, I will not vote for any members of the
    current city commission.

    Leave a comment:

  • captstanm1
    Mikey.....As upinit says....I would have your grandmother call and raise 10 tons of he** about it.

    I thought I would just move this back to the top. I have not heard another word about it since the last article posted.

    Leave a comment:

  • upinit
    Hey FireLt1951 if your concerned then call our city commission, which includes the city manager, and to Mikelikesit, have your grandmother call at 727-562-4040 and let them know your as concerned as we are. Or you could e-mail them at "[email protected]". The commissioners are Mayor Brian Aungst, Comm. Whitney Gray, Comm. Hoyt Hamilton, Comm Frank Hibbard, Comm Bill Jonson, and City Manager Bill Horne. What they had the Chief do was absurd, the City was much safer with Chiefs Yaudes and Huffman working for them. Remember It's just my opinion, but I think I'm right on target with this one. Pray for us it may get worse.

    Leave a comment:

  • captstanm1
    Chiefs Fired..City Manager and City Attorney Get Raises + High Review

    St. Petersburg Times

    City manager, attorney get high marks
    Bill Horne and Pam Akin receive strong annual evaluations from city commissioners. That could lead to 4 percent pay raises for each of them.

    By JENNIFER FARRELL, Times Staff Writer
    Published October 18, 2003

    CLEARWATER - City commissioners gave City Manager Bill Horne and City Attorney Pam Akin high marks Thursday night during their annual evaluations.

    Praised for their performance and professionalism, Horne and Akin are expected to learn at the next commission meeting about pay raises. Commissioners likely will discuss a 4 percent increase, which is what other city management employees received earlier this year.

    Horne was described as a strong leader known for his honesty and ethics.

    "Bill always keeps our vision at the forefront of every endeavor we attack," said Commissioner Frank Hibbard.

    Among the few criticisms mentioned, commissioners suggested that Horne be more flexible and continue keeping them as informed as possible.

    Akin also received praise for her skill and dedication.

    "Pam is a consummate professional," said Commissioner Whitney Gray. "She is a great asset and a key part of the management team."

    * * *

    Leave a comment:

  • FireLt1951
    Originally posted by CaptainGonzo

    Mikey...saying they have "small minds" is giving them way to much credit. it sounds like the Chief, the Mayor and the City Manager share three brain cells.....

    I think you may have over estimated that number. It sounds like one brain cell being shared between the 3 individuals.


    What the H#!L is going on in Florida lately. Have they spiked the water with something. I'm retiring there in 2 years and I'm beginning to wonder if there's any place that isn't screwed up. No malice intended, only concern from a future resident.
    Last edited by FireLt1951; 10-17-2003, 08:02 PM.

    Leave a comment:

  • CaptainGonzo
    Originally posted by MIKEYLIKESIT
    My Grandma lives in Clearwater (whos dosent?)I think this is a real travesty and shows how small-minded some city administrators are.
    Mikey...saying they have "small minds" is giving them way to much credit. it sounds like the Chief, the Mayor and the City Manager share three brain cells.....

    Leave a comment:

    My Grandma lives in Clearwater (whos dosent?)I think this is a real travesty and shows how small-minded some city administrators are.

    Leave a comment:

  • captstanm1
    October 16 Letters to the editor.
    St. Petersburg Times

    Dismissal of two fire officials was totally unjust
    Letters to the Editor
    Published October 16, 2003

    Re: 2 fire department veterans fired, story, Oct. 14.

    I have been a Clearwater firefighter/paramedic for 18-plus years. It was with a sense of shock and dismay that I learned that Assistant Chief Gordon Yaudes and Assistant Chief Pete Huffman had been abruptly fired Monday. Both men have been held in high regard as firefighters and as educators, not only within our own firefighter family but countywide. To summarily dismiss an employee after a long and distinguished career is bad enough, but the lack of respect and compassion involved sets a new low.

    Chief Yaudes taught my first CPR class. He has educated literally thousands of EMS workers as well as citizens in CPR and First Responder (skills). He has always had the time and patience to make himself available as a fire officer and as a friend to all of us.

    Chief Huffman, too, has maintained an open-door policy and has advocated for his fellow firefighters. He is a highly involved member of the County High Rise and Technical Rescue team.

    It would be difficult to find anyone more committed to education, training and safety than these two gentlemen. The only reason given for the sudden dismissal is that the Fire Department is moving in a new direction. Chief Rowland Herald's quote, if he was quoted correctly, that our future involves more trust and respect, is a cruel and inaccurate closure to two admirable careers. Both men have shown loyalty and commitment. I can only wonder what future city management envisions that is not consistent with Pete's and Gordon's example. I doubt that either will remain unemployed for very long. Our loss will be another department's gain.

    To Gordon and Pete: Thank you for everything you've done for all of us, as officers and as friends. Be assured that your dismissal tore at our hearts as well. To the person or persons responsible, I can only quote Joseph Welch, speaking to Joe McCarthy: "Have you no sense of decency, sir?"

    -- K. J. Seminole, International Association of Fire Fighters Local 1158

    Leave a comment:

  • captstanm1
    upinit....Glad to see someone came forward and spoke up.

    Here is a letter to the editor from today's paper.
    St. Petersburg Times--North Pinellas

    Firing leaves a hole in fire department leadership
    Letters to the Editor
    Published October 17, 2003

    Let me get this straight. First off, there is a fire at Dolphin Cove condominiums with two fatalities and five firefighters getting hurt. Then there is an ongoing battle between the city and its firefighters.

    Then, to top it all off, two well-respected assistant fire chiefs get fired for what I can see as no apparent reason.

    If the city is going in a new direction, just exactly who is going to train these firefighters who allegedly don't even know how to fight fires by the book? And are there really rules when it comes to saving someone's life? Personally, I don't think so. Those firefighters that day are heroes.

    So now we have come to no agreement between the firefighters and the city (because) the firefighters want more money.

    So I am wondering where the money came from to give the police officers raises. Also, didn't Mr. (Bill) Horne get a raise? But he is underpaid according to the City Commission. Just what does this guy do besides cry like a baby? I mean, come on, a black pumpkin? Who cares? Two words: First Amendment!

    I hate to say it, but whatever happened to (former city manager) Mike Roberto? I know that Mr. Roberto had his problems, but at least I would have the reassurance that if an emergency occurred I would have happy firefighters getting paid what they deserve at my door instead of an underpaid one having a bad day.

    Personally, I would have rather had the old library in exchange for the reassurance that the Fire Department was taken care of.

    CC, Clearwater

    Leave a comment:

  • upinit
    Hey Capt. Gonzo, it's amazing how you picked up on the stupidity of what happened. I am a member of the department that just fired two of the most respected and admired chief officers the deptartment has. The reason they were respected had nothing to do with our contract dispute, but rather for their honesty & integrity. The fact that they had a great working relationship with the members of the department was due to their management styles & communication skills, something our present admin. just doesn't get. It seems to me that the city just hates us and will do whatever they can to try to break us of our pride and unity. Pray for us, it's going to get worse around here. Stan, thanks for posting the reports. I've posted before, as axeyaz, but it's been so long I couldnt get back on with that name for some reason. It's all just my opinions, but I'm on target with this one. PS, Nozzleman, you must be too close to the union when you get more respect without asking for it than the chief does and he demands it.

    Leave a comment:

300x600 Ad Unit (In-View)


Upper 300x250