Update 1:07 p.m. Saturday: Patch has learned the article was written by the Public Information Committee of the board of trustees, comprised of trustees Dennis Donnelly, John DeMaro and Andrew Cavanaugh. The article was approved by trustees Donnelly, DeMaro, Cavanaugh, John Watras (fire commissioner), Nick Episcopia, Laurence Quinn and Brian Daughney.
Update 11:51 a.m. Saturday: Mayor Don Brudie has just informed Patch that the following statement coming from the "Garden City Board of Trustees" did "not include him" and was "not unanimous." We've asked him to elaborate. We've also asked Trustee Dennis Donnelly, who sent Patch the statement, to elaborate as well, specifically explaining which board members approved the release of this statement to Patch.
The following statement was issued to Patch on Friday by the Garden City board of trustees regarding the ongoing debate about the fire department and a recent report analyzing its operations:
The Garden City Board of Trustees (“BOT”) feels compelled to issue this statement in light of the scurrilous inaccuracies and innuendos that have been circulated by the Garden City Firefighter’s Union.
We find it disturbing as taxpayers and trustees that a group of unionized employees who all make considerable salaries with paid pensions and 100% paid health care have the audacity to demand that taxpayers of the Village and the BOT obtain their approval before changes to a municipal department can be made. These same paid firefighters refuse to work with the volunteer firefighters (our residents) who commit their time and effort in making Garden City a safe community.
In his remarks at the BOT meeting last night Lt. Clancy claimed that the report commissioned by the BOT was flawed because the data to support the findings is inaccurate. Yet that data came from the Garden City Fire Department. The Lieutenant also incorrectly stated that the closing of the outlying fire stations was already approved and implemented. Lt. Clancy knows that paid firemen continue to man those stations and they have not been moved or relieved of any duties.
The Fire Department Union took out full page ads in the newspapers which were inaccurate in many respects. The Village hired an outside consulting firm to examine the department operations and practices and to make recommendations to the BOT as to improvements in service and operations. The ad fails to mention that the firm met with the paid department members, the volunteers, and village staff and administration to gather data to form an independent analysis.
Lt. Clancy should know that he and his fellow firefighters are welcome to discuss the report with Fire Chief Cavarra and if additional meetings are necessary, Mr. Schoelle, the Village Administrator, can be included in such discussions. The unionized firefighters know the procedural protocol but chose to incite the public rather than engage in constructive discussion.
We must highlight that the only recommendation of the consulting firm that was implemented by the BOT was to change the emergency dispatch system. By switching the dispatch system we have saved an average of almost 5 minutes on each and every dispatch. It makes no sense that the Union would fight this issue other than protect their jobs -- not the general public.
The Village Board is studying the entire report as well as other ideas. The Board will discuss these concepts in public when some decisions are due to be made.
The Fire Department represents approximately 10% of the entire village budget and it is subject to review and analysis like all of the other departments. One of our primary duties as trustees is to obtain value for your tax dollars and to root out waste and inefficiencies. We take the duty seriously and no department is immune or exempt.
Please be assured that we will not compromise the safety of our residents. All of the members of the BOT and their families reside in the village and we would not put our own families at risk. The scare tactics and rumors will continue but please remember that all decisions regarding fire operations will be thought out and rational.
Reaction? Let us know in the comments.