Wednesday, March 24, 2010

The "Next One"

If you have any doubts why the citizens of San Diego don't get it, you only need read another backwards diatribe by Union Tribune writer, Michael Stetz. In the Wednesday edition of this joke of a newspaper, Stetz penned an article titled, "Fire official overlooks alarming paychecks." Before you go on, take a minute or two to read what he wrote.

I will try my best to stay free of dragging everyone into my miserable world of self-loathing. But beware, I am going to share my thoughts on reality, viewed from where I stand. If in some way this bothers you, close this blog and move on. I talked about the event in a prior post that Stetz uses to again inflame readers, "Ignorance is Bliss - But Deadly". Stetz goes off on the usual tangent saying Frank De Clercq, President of the Firefighters Union, should "look at how the city fire department staff has contributed to San Diego's financial mess," which Stetz claims has helped lead to the kind of cuts that are putting citizens in grave danger.

Stetz regurgitates the inflammatory and exaggerated salaries printed in his tabloid, attempting to bolster his pathetic argument. Stetz ignores reality and conveniently omits the reasons for the high overtime rate of firefighters in San Diego. He continues the bashing of city employee retirement benefits and attempts to lay blame to the brown outs at the feet of firefighters, as well as the increased contribution owed by the city to the retirement system, and he tosses in the city deficit for good measure.

Frank is following in my footsteps, or me his, when he points out the cuts to firefighters and the closing of the stations is a matter of life and death. "This is the first of many incidents that are going to happen" says De Clercq. Stetz attempts to downplay and minimize the cuts, at the same time justifying them saying "But what hasn't been cut? Libraries, recreation centers, beach amenities...." Then Stetz demands "real evidence that the brownout did indeed contribute to the death of Taylor before all this alarmist talk."

Stetz came to San Diego in 1997 from Harrisburg, Pennsylvania where he worked for The Patriot-News. Stetz graduated from Towson State University in Maryland, with a degree in English.  It is apparent from his writing, he is a company bloke, who would rather cull past diatribes for insertion into his pieces, than do any real investigation into what he writes about. San Diego lacks ANY real investigative reporter skilled in writing clear, articulate, honest and factual pieces. The Union Tribune should think about changing their name to the San Diego Star or San Diego Enquirer or something similar. The name would be closer aligned with the quality and content it publishes. There is little in Stetz's bio to indicate qualifications to take on the types of writing he is attempting.

I will allow fire personnel to provide the arguments related to the fire that claimed the life of a citizen in San Diego. It does not take a rocket scientist to figure out the dangers of closing fire stations in a city that is already lacking adequate stations to meet the needs of its citizens. The game of Russian Roulette being played at the taxpayers expense is criminal. But for Stetz to blame fire staff for the need to close stations is pathetic.

"Constant Manning" is a term for ensuring minimum staffing. National Standards for the safe deployment of fire personnel suggests a level of staffing for safety to the firefighter and citizen. In San Diego, the city decided years ago, it would cost less money to intentionally under-staff the fire department and staff fire trucks and engines with fire fighters working over time. Stetz and others attempt to paint fire fighters as over time whores who are in some way stealing money from the taxpayers and the cause for financial problems at city hall. No one is willing to tell the truth about this issue.

There is a full time team of fire fighters (or use to be) whose full time job is to schedule fire fighter overtime to ensure EVERY fire house is adequately staffed. Much of this overtime was mandatory. The city opted to pay this over time in-lieu of hiring an additional 125+ fire fighters to ensure minimum staffing standards. This was a financial decision made by the city's management and saved the city millions of dollars over the years. Some how this is lost in the assault of the fire fighters by politicians and the press.

The final two paragraphs of Stetz's diatribe show his true colors and make personal a political agenda being waged by him and his colleagues at the Union Tribune. Stetz writes; "Well, when the "next one" does hit, De Clercq should spend a little time examining his paycheck as a city fire captain. He made $154,184 last year in base pay, overtime and something called retro-pay. He also got a $1,350 uniform allowance. How will his pension be paid for? Higher taxes, or more cuts to city services. Including the fire department."   

The "next one" will come and I guess if saying this, is somehow a weekly dose of doom and gloom, so be it. Governments priorities in San Diego are completely askew of reality. The press plays a large role in this disparity, with their continued assault of public safety employees and the unwillingness to accurately report the dangers facing citizens. Will the "next one" result in a serious injury or death? Will a fire fighter be injured or killed?

Sunday night at 2348 hours there was a collision resulting in injuries on the 56 at Camino del Sur. The ambulance arrived at 0008 hours, twenty minutes after the first sounds of the collision. The nearest station is located at Salmon River Road and Paseo Montalban, about a mile and a half to two miles away. Was this station closed Sunday also?      


Inside looking out said...

RIGHT ON, Steve! Stetz is another East Coast-punk trying to make a name for himself way out here in the frontier! Go get em, Steve and hold nothing back.

Anonymous said...

Sure wish the rest of the city could realize this. Maybe the POA can finally step-up and say something in public? The chief won't do it....

Anonymous said...

Thank you Sparky for explaining this for people. Stetz is clearly drinking the UT kool aid. I have been a member of the SDFD for 20+ years. The brown outs are one of the worst things to happen to this city.

Those is my house want to say keep up the great blog. Thank you.

Fighting Fires for SD said...

This is a great piece that should be sent to the various news outlets in San Diego. Stetz is an idiot and fits right in at the Union Tribune.

The constant manning for fire fighters is both voluntary and mandatory. If spots can't be filled with volunteers (it happens) then mandatory overtime is used.

Funny how no one wants to report the truth but loves striking out at spinning and fabricating reality.

Thank you Sparky. I have never met you but have enjoyed reading your pointed and realistic posts. Keep the faith and know many of us appreciate your efforts.

--MC-- said...

Excellent rebuttal, Steve. With the UT being the only major newspaper in town, people are forced to read this trash and many will, unfortunately, believe every word! I can't remember the last time I picked one up and read it. [I used to use it line the bird's cage where it could get properly crapped on.]
The continual rant, of how everything wrong with this town, is the fault of city workers, is their main continuing theme. I'd love to see your comments printed and have ABLE drop copies all over town!

Anonymous said...

If you had any doubt why the SDPD has gone into the toilet you only need to read the voice of san diego interview of our pathetic chief.

I wanted to puke reading the crap Lansdowne spewed. If ever there was justification for a vote of no confidence this article is it. He is in love with Sanders and whatever ever Sanders says our gumby chief will do. He is not a leader and he is not a chief. He is a puppet.

There is not a chief alive that would sit back and allow the shit that has happened to this department to happen without a fight. It is clear from this interview he was a part of it all.

You were right Steve. When will it all end? I am done. As much as I love my friends here in San Diego it is time to get out and do what is right for my family. The POA is a joke. They sit back and "make nice" and want to be "friends" with the mayor and council. They are laughed at and so are we.

Leaving said...

The last comment couldn't have said it any better. This chief has made our department a laughingstock nationally. He must leave so he can spend his three chief retirements that he has "earned". No confidence vote must be must.