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WHO'S RUNNING OUR FIRE DISTRICTS?

www.coventrycitizens.com
www.coventrycitizens.com
The following Op-Ed, by State Representative Patricia Morgan, was published in the Dec 4 Kent County Daily Times. Please forward this useful piece to all your friends and neighbors in Coventry - this is about us and them!

WHO’S RUNNING OUR FIRE DISTRICTS?

Until now, I’ve not reacted to the jibes and innuendo from opponents to change in our fire districts. But after the most recent assault, it is appropriate to respond.

Opponents of change have a standard attack book. First, they make up information to support their case, and ignore genuine reports and data. Second, they label as “liars” anyone who doesn’t agree. Third, they resort to vicious name calling.

They are notably unwilling to address the real issues involved. It is not increases in street lights or fire hydrants that drove costs higher at the Fire District: it was gross mismanagement, extraordinarily generous firefighter benefits and poor work practices.  Any real fix must deal with these things, and the greatest obstacle has been union unwillingness to change anything.

I’ve always believed my duty is to do what I can to make government work better - make it efficient, effective and affordable - for my constituents. They deserve public officials and public institutions that look out for them, or at the very least do no harm.

I know the folks in my district.  I've walked their neighborhoods, and I’ve had the opportunity to talk with them during my years as their State Representative. These are good, hard-working people struggling every day to pay the bills and put food on the table.  And they worry because expenses keep going up faster than their paychecks.

Last year in Coventry at home after home, people complained about skyrocketing fire taxes, and a looming 70% increase. 70%!  It is entirely unfair to push this kind of an increase on taxpayers as a result of incompetent fire district management.  My constituents asked for help, and I set out to help find a better alternative.  

It wasn’t just me: it's hard for one person alone to fight exorbitant spending. Getting this done requires allies and organization and leadership. I tried to provide some leadership, and I’ve had loads of help from others. Residents came to us from every corner of Coventry. The Taskforce was born to provide the average homeowner a voice they hadn’t had before.

And the tax increases were real. Protected by a charter that allowed just a few to exert control over the budget, Board actions were driving increases of 15% or more a year. Volunteer firefighters were replaced with full-timers. Taxpayer money was spent on non-essential equipment such as a $900,000 aerial ladder truck. The Board agreed to overtime-busting ten-man shifts at fire stations, far more than needed.

The result was skyrocketing operating costs, and the expectation that taxpayers would pick up the tab. But as huge tax bills landed in mailboxes throughout Central Coventry, the truth began to emerge. This wasn’t a passing problem, and the finances of every family were being seriously and negatively impacted.

Union President Dave Gorman and his supporters seem to think that if you shout “misrepresentation” and “liar” loud enough and long enough and often enough that people will start to believe it. But it hasn’t worked this time. Taxpayers have turned out in record numbers to vote and make their voice known, and they’ve said “enough!”

And the facts are available. Contracts and budgets are posted in black and white at www.coventrycitizens.com These public documents have been available for all to read from the beginning, and they are still there. Go read them: they paint a picture of a Union leadership with a voracious appetite for taxpayer dollars and no regard for the average person they 'serve.'  

In the past, special interests such as the firefighters union have dominated the political conversation. Dues dollars and captive manpower are used to defeat candidates who won’t yield to their demands, however unreasonable.  Because I stood up to help taxpayers in Coventry, the same firefighters who claim to serve us are picketing my house, penning a steady stream of vitriol on social media, sending caustic “news” releases to local media, discrediting me and the citizens serving on the Taskforce, and hoping to defeat those who speak out in next year’s election. Instead of working towards an affordable solution for everyone, they demand that nothing change, that high taxes remain, and opponents be silenced.  

When in the hands of special interests, government fails to serve all of us, safeguarding neither our physical safety nor our financial well-being.

It is now time for fairness, and for authentic public service. I hope you will all continue to support me, the Taskforce and the new Fire District Board as we move forward.

This battle is not over. We can do this. And doing it is long overdue.



This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Walter Borkowski December 06, 2013 at 01:40 PM
Sorry to disappoint, several years as a firefighter, over twenty years as a union member and one term as union president. Hard to believe huh!
Mohawk December 06, 2013 at 02:00 PM
Walter what Dept, its ok for u to have a nice pension ,and one term that explains it.
John December 06, 2013 at 02:23 PM
Hatter if they took a vacation on the taxpayers dime you would think it's wonderful. You brown nose brown and the Board!!
John December 06, 2013 at 02:24 PM
Mohawk he is full of shit, He was never on a Dept.
mad hatter December 06, 2013 at 03:41 PM
@listening, it just looks like an informational page from the BOD. i dont think they have to run it through the district web site nor would they want to as that site blows. its a weebly page so there is no cost i believe. i see no issues and am pretty glad to see it. @John, grow up just a little, mkay?
listening December 06, 2013 at 04:05 PM
I don't know, Hatter. The BOD did say they might keep rescue and have volunteer firemen. Calling the CCFD "Coventry Rescue" may be them setting the stage. I don't feel comfortable with it. It was never discussed and I know for sure that the Court was not aware of this. I am wary of what is behind this. I would think there are a lot more pressing problems than setting up a new website. They could have restructured the old one which comes up on a search as Central Coventry fire District not Coventry Rescue.
melanie December 06, 2013 at 04:06 PM
@John are you that fragile that when someone points out that you write nothing but nasty, non-productive comments you call it hate speech. Try fact. Oh and is calling me Mrs. Brown supposed to be an insult? Guess what, I'm not her but since I haven't heard anything negative about her except from a few haters like you, I'm not insulted either. How about I assume you are Gorman? Would you be insulted? Look at your postings, not an intelligent comment in any of them. Try a new approach and give ideas not insults. Bet you can't do it!
mad hatter December 06, 2013 at 04:13 PM
personally, i am not reading that much into it. the ccfd site is so botched, it cant be saved. they are not calling ccfd "coventry rescue", they are calling the site of the bod "coventry rescue". i think its more of them "coming to the rescue" and not renaming anything. also, i thought they were thinking of ditching rescue and saving fire. either way, i dont care about the name. i am just happy to see communication as opposed to what there was before which was nothing.
RS December 06, 2013 at 04:36 PM
Well, what they are thinking of doing and what they are doing are two different animals. They voted to liquidate. There is no saving anything. They won't be able to hire or house a private ambulance service or assemble volunteers because all the assets will be gone and in effect the district will be gone. Kind of tough to hire an ambulance company with no assets.....
Just Me December 06, 2013 at 07:10 PM
I have to agree with you 100% RS, these people fail to realize when the district is gone they are gone.
Toxic Avenger December 06, 2013 at 09:10 PM
RS what makes you think we have to provide a place to house a privatized company?
John December 06, 2013 at 11:02 PM
Melanie , What have you said or ideas have you or hatter come up with that are earth shattering????? crickets!! That's what I thought. You underhanded attempt to keep the Browns out of the conversation is laughable at best. Both of you suckle at the Morgan assalone tit
John December 06, 2013 at 11:05 PM
No toxic avenger ( bet your wife loves you in the cape) let them park at dunkin donuts and the company can collect the 650,000.00 that the district now collects. That's morgans plan !!How are you going to make up that money???
Gem101 December 06, 2013 at 11:17 PM
The District will never be liquidated, judge will never allow the safety of the public to be at risk. As far as privatizing that will be the last effort the judge allows. If the district is liquidated it's all,everything ,equipment, buildings, fire hydrants, lights, nothing left for anyone to store their equipement in but outside on the road. Too start over will accure an enormous amount of income, and the state and judge will never let that happen, #1 will always be public safety first end of story you heard it hear first.
Michele Martin December 07, 2013 at 07:22 AM
The cowards at work again. The board could not agree to anything that extended that contract. Even with "concessions" it is unsustainable. The sooner they can really negotiate the better. Instead of the drama here get your acts together with some real solutions.
Just Me December 07, 2013 at 08:43 AM
Michele, I suggest you know the facts before you write your opinions. The firefighters contract as is reasonable when looking at the majority of contracts throughout the region ( contracts throughout the North East ), and that is before the concessions they gave. That is including Fire, Police, Public Works, and many Private company's. So the fact they gave up $1.2 million in concessions only to have this board who is suppose to be looking out what is best for the District not just monetarily, but true Public Safety also, tells me this board has no intention of even trying to work out a plan. Just in case your wondering, I do work the private sector and my benefits as well as many of those I work with are comparable to those jobs listed above.You seem to either be friends with , or related to some of these board members because you keep making statements without looking at all the facts, including the numerous lies this Board and Morgan keep putting out to the public. Unless you agree with these people your wrong. The sad part is as stated before, all these experts who work or worked in the field,and have numerous degree's and experience keep saying the same thing and it keeps falling on deaf ears. You can not treat public safety like a business, its not there to make money, it is there to protect people !!! After talking to some who were members of this department ( CCFD ), I found out the contract is like it is to help retain firefighters as many go to other departments who "pay more and have better benefits " . Why should people expect everything for nothing? I also pay about $900 in fire taxes, and pay $10,000 for town taxes and the sad part is I never had a kid go to school in this town, nor do I live on a town road. Basically alls I get for my money is garbage pick up, and police coverage. Why should I not complain and just pay for the services I use and only pay half??? Why do I pay, because it is the right thing to do !!!
RIFT December 07, 2013 at 09:36 AM
Everyone knows that the union has worked for years to standardize these contracts so they can claim they are only getting what other firefighters get. That's how the current contract got approved and we got into this mess. If CCFD goes down or the employees of the district have to work for much less, to save their jobs, it could create a domino effect that may lead to the reduction of pay and benefits for fireman throughout the state.
RS December 07, 2013 at 10:21 AM
Rift....another Tea Party spokesperson steps up......
John December 07, 2013 at 11:08 AM
RS you are nicer than me I was going to say another asshole heard from!
RS December 07, 2013 at 12:03 PM
Eveyone is entitled to their opinions.
Mohawk December 07, 2013 at 02:28 PM
Here's a little info for u rightwingnews.com. Obama care could require Volunteer fire companies to consider Volunteer FF as full time employees ,and require full health insurance .
mad hatter December 07, 2013 at 02:56 PM
that is not shocking when talking about obummercare. im sure within 3 years i will have to sign up my dog and cat.
melanie December 07, 2013 at 03:52 PM
John I seemed to have struck a nerve. Poor thing. As much fun as it is to go back and forth with you, you don't really have anything original to say so its kind of fizzling. You are right as far as this blog should be for ideas not for pissing matches. Well you didn't really say that, but that besides the point. The big issue is that the employees and taxpayers of CCFD have basically been screwed by the past Chief (who booked town) and the past board. Unfortunately, there are individuals that enjoy pitting the employees and taxpayers against each other rather than unite them. First, the employees have to realize there is no money. The economy sucks and the taxpayers are broke. The taxpayers need to realize the employees can't work for free. Yes, the employees made some concessions, but if there was $1mill that could be cut with no problem, there was a problem with the original contract. Don't blame the employees for taking the deal, but don't blame the taxpayers for not being able to pay for it anymore. More cuts have to be made, bottom line. If they want a job in CCFD make more cuts or CCFD will cease to exist and they will need to go elsewhere. I would like to know if the taxpayers have any legal recourse to sue the former chief and board for gross monetary misconduct. No matter how the mistake happened, at one point they knew about it and continued to spend.
John December 08, 2013 at 12:46 AM
Melanie explain in detail exactly what happened with the old board and chief....
melanie December 08, 2013 at 08:36 AM
ok John, look at it logically if you dare. The board had monthly meetings that were also attended by the chief some public and the union president. At these meetings the board and the chief were given monthly reports. These reports, at one point, would show a huge decrease in the amount to collect yet not show cash coming in to account for that. This is when any person with a brain should have questioned this if they want to say they were never told previously. (Which I think they were.) Once they found out, they should not have continued to spend the way they did. If you go on the state website and sift through minutes you will see in black and white where the board and chief were told they were going over budget and the chief flat out said that's ok. Is there any recourse for the taxpayers and the employees?
John December 08, 2013 at 11:40 AM
Melanie I was there and I have the minutes, what you have said so far is bullshit! The tax collector never brought it to the boards attention as neither did the treasurer ! I looked at this from every angle and a lot of the blame lies with the towns tax office who gives the information to the CCFD tax collector who never picked up on it. Are you aware of the state cutting off 230,000.00 of car tax money, Assalone trailer trolls voting to flat fund etc. So no you don't know your ass from your elbow! You are as airtight as they come.
melanie December 08, 2013 at 03:07 PM
John, you have so just proven you were not only not there, but you are one of the people trying to keep everyone at each other instead of focusing on what got us here and how to move forward. In the 07/20/2010, 04/19/2011, and the 05/17/2011 for example... discussions of going over budget and borrowing against the line of credit are spelled out. Also, at each meeting, the Tax Collector gives a report. The report gives amounts collected and what is left to be collected. Do the math!!! I'm thinking you are friends with one of the former board members so you are trying to protect them. Maybe you are friends with the ex chief. Let me use your words so you understand. Go back and suckle up to them and leave everyone else alone. I have yet to see you say something with any merit. Keep the insults flowing it shows your lack of class.
John December 08, 2013 at 06:39 PM
Melanie again wrong on all counts , you must have run out of batteries to keep blabbering like you do either that or I am told your other half can't stand to listen to you so is happy when you are on the computer! Show me where exactly when the tax collector brought this problem the the boards attention? and who are you protecting is the big question???
melanie December 08, 2013 at 08:13 PM
John, this is just getting boring. You are way too thick. All I hear from you now is blah, blah, blah. No ideas just stupidity. Words to try to deflect the real question. Who are YOU protecting? I don't really care though because you're not worth anymore energy. I gave it my best shot to try and have an intelligent debate with you, but debating with an unarmed man is no fun.
John December 08, 2013 at 10:48 PM
WOW Melanie I think my feelings are hurt ,No wait no they're not! Get a life it's tough trying to talk sense to a tea-bagger!! Like talking to a zombie! Don't worry i'm sure morgan will give you a hug!!

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