I would like to personally thank the members of the Wilkes-Barre Fire Department (reader's comments attached to my previous post) for helping me to prove my point that if you mess with public sector unions, you are a dead man.
Thanks, guys. Thanks for making it so freaking easy. Damn, you guys got sucked into that cleverly-laid trap faster than plastic lawn ornaments get sucked into the spinning vortexes of marauding tornadoes.
Now let us examine the feedback I received, which reminds me of those heady days when first I started writing on the Internet. Here we go! I'm fat, old, ignorant, stupid, in bed with someone, or looking for some sort of political payback for my efforts. None of which even remotely scrapes the peripheral edges of the long-elusive reality you steadfastly hold out hope for.
Let us cover a couple of specifics, shall we?
Is my daughter still employed by the Wilkes-Barre Area School District?
No, in fact, she is not. Rather, she is now employed by the Crestwood School District, teaching young women how best to approach things when they dare step onto an athletic field of battle. She's a warrior, and she always was.
But is was wildly amusing to see that someone would stoop so low as to suggest that she secured some sort of political job because of her dad's last name, rather than what really happened--the WBASD advertised coaching openings, she applied, and based on her lengthy and proven athletic resume, she was hired.
Some of you people are equal parts funny and sad. I addressed an issue, but never even thought of going after anyone's family because of it. Your bad.
And...public financing for my restaurant idea? To be honest, I'm really not sure what that one was all about.
Before the members of the WBFD abruptly turned their backs on me, I was their champion for volunteering to be their defender, their intermediary, while they were doing constant battle with the McGroarty administration. A rogue administration that had this nasty habit of working to publicly embarrass the firefighters at every available opportunity.
And when Tom Leighton secured his electoral victory over Tom McGroary, the firefighters in this city did rejoice. But then the economic realities that where first brought up by the Namey administration started to echo.
And the reality was that we had a city whose streets were slipping away from it, necessitating a return to law & order, i.e., an increased emphasis on policing and projecting a much enhanced police presence.
So the balancing act began for Tom Leighton. He was faced with multitudes of angered and frightened residents who were outright demanding an enhanced police presence, and not an enhanced fire department. So he delivered upon one of his cornerstone campaign promises by boosting all things policing.
Now, public safety has more than that policing facet, but here's the clear distinction between the fire department's and the police department's reaction to being squeezed by politicians and their agendas.
When the police department was purposely dwindled to record low numbers by a hostile administration, it never went public. The Wilkes-Barre Police Department, even when it's officers were responding to violent domestic calls without backup, never went public with their concerns. And if we remember correctly, I'm the rarest of the rare in that I am a resident that has spent entire shifts riding along with our police officers on multiple occasions.
And never, not even once, did a single member of the WBPD engage me in a political conversation. Not once. When we were out there on the mean streets, the focus was on the task at hand--those mean streets. Which is really saying something when you consider that these police officers knew full-well that they were riding with a political animal. And I respect them for their obvious restraint, as well as their single-minded sense of purpose.
But I cannot say the same thing for those who regularly don turnout gear for the WBFD. Quite the opposite is true. These guys are political animals extraordinaire. And history suggests that they always have been, ever since the first rumblings of the fiscal necessity of reducing the size of the fire department were first heard during the latter stages of the 1980s and beyond into the Namey administration of the early 90s.
All of which suggests that the budgetary writing was on the wall twenty years ago. And that the WBFD has had a contentious relationship with the City of Wilkes-Barre as far back as anyone can remember.
Basically, they have too much time on their hands. They have fleeting moments of terror interrupted by prolonged bouts of boredom. And when they are so-often idled, they get to doing what employees the world over do when their minds and bodies are not occupied--they bitch about their employers.
Contrast that sitting around and waiting for adrenaline to what the police officers in this city face day-in and day-out. Listen to me tell it, a ride with one of Wilkes-Barre's finest will be the fastest passing 8 hours you will ever spend. They go, they go, they go some more, they snack out of Turkey Hills if they get the chance and their focus never wavers.
More importantly, I have never once heard an on-duty Wilkes-Barre police officer engage in a single conversation about city politics, or how any of it has a direct impact on their jobs. When they are on the job, the only thing on their minds is the job. They are a devoted and equally impressive bunch.
And I think the reason the WBFD is so completely politicized is because the fire department simply has too much idle time on it's hands. Idle time in which it can mimic the words of it's inept union leadership. Idle time in which it can lambaste administration after administration after administration. Idle time in which it can get after some blogger who dared to take issue with any of their incessant and expensive demands.
I goaded them in, and they rushed to prove my point. Much like they would rush into a burning building, while everyone else ran screaming from it. Still, they proved my point.
Do not mess with public sector unions on a continual rampage, a continual taxpayer-supported feeding-frenzy. Do not dare to go there.
Now go back to sleep.