Fire Fighter Open Thread

From Monday’s City Council meeting agenda:

2) RESOLUTION AUTHORIZING THE MAYOR OF THE CITY OF DEKALB, ILLINOIS TO EXECUTE A VARIANCE AGREEMENT TO THE COLLECTIVE BARGAINING AGREEMENT WITH THE DEKALB INTERNATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF FIREFIGHTERS, LOCAL 1236, AFL-CIO FOR THE PERIOD OF JULY 1, 2008 THROUGH JUNE 30, 2011.

The City and IAFF Local 1236 have reached a tentative agreement. As part of this agreement, IAFF members agree to an eleven month wage freeze in year one and a six month wage freeze in year two during the remaining two years of the agreement. Members also agree to waive their carrying fee compensation through the term of the contract. In return, the City agrees to offer reinstatement to the three laid off firefighters and to hire an additional recently vacant position. The City also agrees that any firefighter that retires on or before September 5, 2009 shall be eligible for health insurance premiums that were in effect prior to June 29, 2009 but shall be subject to any changes that may occur in the future. Additionally, the City agrees not to lay-off or furlough any Union member through the term of the current contract (June 30, 2011). The terms of this variance agreement will result in approximately $350,000 in savings over the remaining two years of the agreement. Please direct questions about this item to Assistant City Manager Rudy Espiritu.

L. REPORTS – COMMUNICATIONS

M. RECESS FOR CLOSED SESSION

DeKalb needed to save $500,000 citywide this year. Does the two-year agreement help them meet this milepost? Has anybody done the math? Bueller?

Notes & More from 8/10/2009 Council Meeting

When people say, “I am not making this up,” as the public works director did last night in explaining the lack of competitive bids for waste pickup, I begin to wonder about the occasions when they don’t say it. You?

*****

Mayor Povlsen is still calling comments he disagrees with “misinformation” based on a continued presumption of residents’ ignorance of Tax Increment Financing (TIF). Here is a challenge. I’ll put together a quiz team of eight citizens from last night’s audience to compete with City Council in an exercise to test TIF knowledge. We could call it the TIF Olympics. Let’s hold it on Halloween — I think the results would be pretty scary from the residents’ point of view, if Mr. Baker’s confession is any indication. Continue reading Notes & More from 8/10/2009 Council Meeting

Dear Citizen

An e-mail exchange between a resident of the 4th Ward and Alderman Gallagher was forwarded to me.
_____________________________

From: mark cxxx [mailto:markxxxx@xxx.com]
Sent: Tue 8/4/2009 3:13 AM
To: Gallagher, Brendon
Subject: RE: Southside fire station

Brendon-

When you get a chance I would like to discuss something that I recently came across.

Fire Station No. 2 (South 7th Street) no longer has a fire engine housed there, only an ambulance. According to the new blog Save DeKalb Firefighters.com, the reduction was effective August 1. I am going to visit this location and confirm these findings and highly suggest you do the same.

What is your take on the the fact that the 4th ward and south side no longer has adequate fire protection? Is this a permanent condition or can you speak with Ald Naylor and bring forth an agenda item to be voted on by the city council to force the FD to keep an Engine on the South side?

Might be worth bringing up at the next Council meeting.

Thanks

Mark
__________________________________

Dear Citizen: Thank you for your email regarding Fire Station #2. Given the current staffing levels for our fire department, Chief Harrison has had to make some changes as it relates to fire protection.

It is my understanding that Fire Station #2 is now an EMT only station based on our current staffing.

When revenues return to our city, be it through retail sales tax, cost cutting, etc…, I hope we can return Station #2 to its past staffing levels.

Regards,

Brendon
*********************************************
Brendon Gallagher
4th Ward Alderman
City of DeKalb
200 S Fourth Street
DeKalb, IL 60115

815.787.7727 voice
_______________________________

Thus the quality of representation in the 4th Ward becomes clearer.

Renew Our Trash

catbox1

Yes, that is a cat box. Sorry about that but the city started it by deciding that they think they know best on dictating how people take out their trash. Although called a “pilot” program at this point, as described in the Daily Chronicle article, my guess is the city will put this program in place. I do not believe this is a cost-savings plan. Instead, this gives the city the opportunity to make everyone’s trash look the same. DeKalb would look like some sort of Yuppieville, with matching garbage cans. I do not need nor want a trash can. I certainly do not want to be forced into buying two new ones. How will the city buying trash cans for everyone save citizens any money? Continue reading Renew Our Trash

City Hall OK with Southeast Side as Toast

From the City of DeKalb press release regarding the fire fighter layoffs, dated July 15:

The City Council has entered into agreements with the FOP and AFSCME unions, along with the City’s management employees, on wage concessions to avoid layoffs. “Unfortunately, we have been unable to come to a similar agreement with IAFF,” Biernacki said. “While IAFF’s latest proposal included some economic concessions, their proposal also included terms that would extend their contract for another 12 months past the current contract expiration date of June 30, 2011. Given the uncertainty over the economy, both now and in the foreseeable future, the Council felt that by extending their contract, the City’s hands would be tied for too long of a time period before which the City could potentially approach IAFF to discuss other economic matters within their contract.” Biernacki also said that the City Council felt that an inappropriate inequity would result between IAFF and the rest of the employee groups if they were to accept IAFF’s proposal.

I get the “hands tied” thing, but there remains the nagging feeling that internal equity is the first priority with this administration. Downtown renewal is the second priority, airport is Number Three, and basic services — especially for the neglected southeast side — clearly lag in fourth place, as you will see in a moment.

With these layoffs, the City’s fire and EMS services are not expected to materially change at this time. “We will still perform and deliver high quality and professional emergency services to DeKalb and its residents,” Fire Chief Bruce Harrison said. “Our highly trained and professional staff will always be there in time of need and will not allow the safety of our community to be compromised.” Harrison said that adjustments in Fire Department operations will be made to ensure the service delivery the community has come to expect. He also said closures of any of the City’s three fire stations are not being considered at this time. [emphasis added.]

I’ve been by Station No. 2 (South 7th Street) several times over the past couple days and there is no longer a fire engine housed there, only an ambulance. According to the new blog Save DeKalb Firefighters.com, the reduction was effective August 1.

In my book, that’s a material change in services for the worse.

Where’s the press release about that?

The First Step

One of the citizen commenters at the council meeting last night brought up the City of DeKalb’s Management Pay Plan. She was scandalized by the leap from Step 1 to Step 2. It is easy to see why. Grade One starting pay, for example, is $18.158 per hour but on the first anniversary it jumps to $21.199. That’s a 16.75% increase. After that, annual increases are a more modest 2% per year and in fact they call it the “Two Percent Pay Plan.”

What the commenter seemed not to know is that all city contracts take a big jump from Step 1 to Step 2 (or Step A to Step B).

In 2008, the Police Contract (p. 35) started a patrol officer at an hourly wage of $26.69, which increased to $29.08 at Step B.

The AFSCME contract schedule (p. 40) pays a Building Supervisor at a rate of $28.291 the first year and $33.20 the second.

A new fire fighter makes $23.979 hourly to start, then goes to $29.524.

3/17/09

From the diary on my campaign site:

Getting tired of the whole “we have a balanced budget” and “we have a surplus” talk…Tell you what -– let’s go with that. Let’s just say we believe the surplus is real, on condition that if it disappears right after the election, the city manager is held responsible and dismissed.

Nobody’s been held responsible or dismissed yet, except for 3 firefighters.