cur-mud-geon: anyone who hates hypocrisy and pretense and has the temerity to say so; anyone with the habit of pointing out unpleasant facts in an engaging and humorous manner
The morning Journal Sentinel carried an article written by Tom Kertscher that immediately struck me for its bearing on the issues we've been witnessing in Germantown.
The Mequon Common Council President has decided that he'll become a paid-on-call firefighter for the city. The mayor doesn't like the implications and the city attorney recommends that the alderman steer clear of all issues. The mayor was quoted as saying, "My personal belief is that you must recuse yourself from every discussion-public and private-dealing with the Fire Department."
The Common Council President decided that he'd seek an opinion from the city attorney. The city attorney, in his letter to the councilman, advised the he abstain "from any matter concerning the Fire Department, its policies, its structure and organization, and any contractual issues, strategy, bargaining or status." Regarding issues that should remain confidential, such as bargaining or evaluation of Fire Department employees, the city attorney recommended that the councilman "not only abstain but also absent and insulate yourself from any information and discussion which would come to you in your aldermanic capacity."
Sounds like very good advice from a knowledgeable city attorney. I wonder if our Village President Kempinski or Trustee Langer or Village Administrator Schornack have sought similar opinions from our village attorney?
Interestingly enough, unless there are two Atty. John DeStefanis' that serve cities and villages, it appears that we probably already know what Village Attorney John DeStefanis would advise. He wrote the recommendations quoted above for Mequon.
It is time for the Village of Germantown to end the charade that has involved President Kempinski, Trustee Langer and the Fire Department. Langer should resign from the Public Safety Committee immediately and recuse himself from any and all issues involving the Fire Department. Kempinski should appoint a replacement that has no direct or indirect involvement in the Fire Department. The Village Attorney should be asked for a formal opinion and that should guide all future relationships.
We must look the fools for having permitted this charade to go on and on and on. I am told this all began in 1989 when Gary Pollpeter was appointed Chief. He was an outsider and that didn't sit well with the then powers that were. He is apparently still viewed by the same group as an outsider. It is way past time to put all this behind us. We are nearly two decades down the road. Get over it!
We have a small group that is working diligently to mold the department to their own end, and some of them aren't even fully versed on that department. They did not know, or would not divulge, where the labor cost budget stood even with the 'exhorbitant' overtime pay going out as they claimed. Is it in fact still below budget? An assistant didn't know there was no overtime line item in the department's budget during the initial stages of this debate, and she has responsibility for human resources in addition to assisting the village administrator.
We have a para-military organization being mandated to live in the touchy-feely world of normal businesses. Police departments and fire departments have ranks similar to those found in the military for a reason. These units need to be run like a military organization. Touchy-feely has no place for those whose lives are on the line day-in and day-out. When orders are given, they must be obeyed instantly. This is not the time for debate. If you disagree with the order, follow it, accomplish the mission...and then discuss what you think would've been a better approach. Sometimes feelings are going to be hurt. Better that than lives lost unnecessarily.
We see poorly thought knee-jerk propositions brought for debate. Fortunately, most of these have so far not gained traction. We have complaints filed and then kept alive by the new union even after two layers of review had passed on making any penalty decisions. Interestingly enough, the sole witness to this event was Trustee Jim Langer while still in his dual role as a paid-on-call volunteer firefighter. Can you spell c-o-n-f-l-i-c-t o-f i-n-t-e-r-e-s-t?
Questions have been raised as to the wisdom of the contract negotiated with this union. Why was a paramedic union used for EMTs and firefighters? The chief was apparently not asked for input. Who actually did the negotiating? Why were some hard-coded definitions on firefighter work weeks discarded when this carries a cost for the village in the form of overtime? Why were some members not permitted to vote in absentia? Why were members given a version of the agreement to review with a vote scheduled for some thirty minutes later? Why is it that this was not the final version of the agreement according to my information?
Can no one in power see the absurdity? Please come to your senses. We don't need recall campaigns or outside investigations. Let us get over it, and move ahead.