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Should fire board candidates accept financial or other support from firefighters union? Restricted to registered users

Original post made by Peter Carpenter, Atherton: Lindenwood, on Aug 3, 2013

I urge all of the candidates to decline to be interviewed by the firefighters' union and to refuse to accept either endorsement or any type of financial support from the union. The responsibility of a Fire Board Director is to the citizens of the Fire District not to the union. The Fire Board will be called upon to ratify a new union agreement and in doing so there should be no question about the Board's responsibility to the citizens who elected them.

The firefighters' union very much wants to control the Fire Board by virtue of getting those candidates it favors elected. If they do that then we can say goodbye to the Fire District's long history of balanced budgets, timely capital improvements and prudent reserves. Also, because the union routinely files its financial statements as late as possible, or later, the voters will not know how much they are spending on this year's election until after they cast their votes. In the last election the union spent more than twice as much as ALL of the candidates did themselves combined. The Fire Board should not be For Sale to the union.

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"Years ago, you interviewed and were endorsed be the firefighters union."

Yes, and what followed is a sad story. The first time I ran for the Fire Board I was naive and unaware of the corrupting influence that public employee unions have on our local government. After I was elected the firefighters' union made clear that I 'owed' my election to them and not to the citizens who elected me and whom I was sworn to serve. My relations with the union went downhill from there as I tried to consistently serve the interests of the citizens of the Fire District rather than those of the firefighters' union. When I ran the second time I declined to be interviewed and the union not only did not endorse me but they asked me to withdraw from the race because they knew that I would be both hard to beat and unwilling to do their bidding. Just so there is no ambiguity about the facts the correspondence can be seen here:

Web Link

I continued in the race and won with more votes that any candidate has every received in a Fire District election. The union vowed to never let another candidate who they did not endorse win and in subsequent elections has spent tens of thousands of dollars in its attempt to control the Fire Board.

I believe that the firefighters' union will spend well more than $50,000 in this November's election in order to try to gain control of a majority of the five seats on the Fire Board. This is in an election were the candidates themselves usually spend about $5000 each.

It is with this personal experience that I have urged ALL candidate for ALL local public office to decline to be interviewed by the public employee unions and to refuse to accept either endorsement or any type of financial support from those unions.

Our local governments have been financial endangered by the current public employee pay, benefit and pension programs and no elected official should be beholden to those same unions as he or she approves budgets and contracts effecting those unions.

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"Is he now proposing that the people elect someone less qualified because the most qualified candidates accept union endorsements or money?"

No, I will vote for the best qualified candidates and hopefully, as part of being best qualified, they will be smart enough to eschew union support. The 2 candidates I voted for in the Atherton election were not smart enough to reject the APOA support and they are now paying a big price for that support.

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"Got it. NEVER listen to those in the field, or those you work with or lead"

This simplistic comment shows a lack of understanding of the difference between leadership and labor relations. Good leaders always communicate with the members of their organization both via the chain of command and one on one. Labor unions have nothing to do with the minute by minute and day by day operation of an organization. Good leaders do not confuse unions with their chain of command.

It is a huge mistake to convolute individual firefighters and police officers with their labor unions. I have never met a MPFPD firefighter who did not put service to the citizens of the fire district first above his or her own personal interests. Ditto Atherton police officers. However the unions that these individuals have empowered to represent their bargaining interests have very different priorities and service to the community is far less important than is maximizing the pay, benefits and pensions of their members. If you understand this distinction between leadership and labor relations then you will understand that I can fully support communication with all the people who are doing the job while still refusing to become a tool of their labor unions.

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Hopefully registered users will be able to add to this dialogue.

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