Rosario Carcione (president of the Canton Professional Firefighters Association - CPFA) told the SCPR this morning that the CPFA has filed a grievance against the Healy administration over the administration's dismissal of 15 fire cadets as being a violation of an agreement on staffing levels in accordance with a Memorandum of Understanding supplemented by e-mails between the CPFA and the Healy administration.
Also, President Carcione revealed to the SCPR that the CPFA has filed an "unfair labor practice" against the Healy administration on the grounds that the fire cadets were dismissed because the Healy administration is retaliating against the CPFA for its filing of the grievance by the union.
Within the past week, a story (as told by former Department of Homeland Security head Tom Ridge) has broken that former U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft and Secretary of Defense Don Rumsfeld pressured Ridge to raise the "color" threat level immediately before the 2004 presidential elections.
What does this have to do with Canton mayor William J. Healy, II"?
The Rumsfeld/Ashcroft bullying tactics have been adopted by the Healy administration to bring the Canton Professional Firefighters Association (CPFA) into line in his desperation attempts to make up a $2.8 million budget deficit.
Pure and simple, as Rumsfeld and Ashcroft were willing to play politics with the nation's security warning mechanism so apparently are Mayor Healy and his newly appointed safety director Thomas Ream are playing political "hardball" with the fire and medical safety of Cantonians.
Healy has had to know for some time that the budget was going to be in big time shortfall. One has to ponder as to whether or not he is using the city's financial crisis as a way to gain political control over the firefighter/medic aspect of Canton's safety forces much as he has waged war with Police Chief Dean McKimm to get rid of him so as to have a more direct line of control over Canton's policemen (presumably by a more Healy friendly police chief).
Is this a play on White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel's Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel's dictum: "You never want a serious crisis to go to waste."
A source tells the SCPR that the real reasons the 15 firefighter cadets were sacrificed by the Healyites is because the CPFA did not roll over immediately on a demand that a re-open on the collective bargaining agreement occur. Yours truly is told that the union was considering a "limited" re-open but was not allowed consideration time (demand was made about 6:00 p.m. on Thursday; the union was accused of "breaking their promise? to re-negotiate" as of 7:00 a.m. on Friday).
Seems like a "straw-man" maneuver to the SCPR, which is consistent with what yours truly knows about Healy and his penchant for political machinations. Only this time, the personal safety of Cantonians has been put in jeopardy.
Hold on to your hats for this one.
The SCPR is about to compliment The Repository Editorial Board.
On Thursday, August 20 (August 20th just happens to be yours truly's birth date), The Rep editors did a very nifty job of posing some important questions for Healy to answer:
Here is the editorial in toto:
Where is Canton’s mayor? Why is William J. Healy II not out in front, literally and figuratively, in addressing a city budget deficit we’re now told will hit $2.8 million this year?To The Rep's questions, the SCPR asks these:
Why has Healy not spoken clearly and publicly to city employees, members of City Council and city taxpayers about the budget crisis?
Why has he not made the case for shared sacrifice to all of these stakeholders?
Why has he not started with making sacrifices in his own office budget?
Why, when he decided to lay off 15 cadet firefighters to save money, was he AWOL in actually delivering the pink slips?
Why can’t the public get a straight answer from the Healy administration about how much money will be saved from laying off firefighters?
Why has he not told City Council or the public what other cuts he plans?
Why, when the news about Canton is bad — layoffs, budget difficulties, triple homicides — must the public hear from a surrogate and not the boss himself?
Healy ran for mayor by trumpeting his experience in running a business. The budget crisis and the attendant political risks are the cost of being the boss.
Why isn’t the mayor willing to pay it?
The way that the city is to tighten its financial belt is to first layoff part-time and seasonal employees which Canton has 33 of, then and only then is the city to look at laying off probationary employees. Why isn't this order of things not being implemented the Healy administration especially in light of the fact that the targeted probationary employees are "safety (firefighters and medics) forces?"
The SCPR is told that Healy kept the "budget thing" to himself and a few confidants resident on the 8th floor. Hmm? How much of a role did Communication Director Adam Herman (Healy's most loyal subordinate) play in formulation the budget?
The affected parties (city workers and their unions) were not consulted, Canton City Council was not included and most importantly Finance committee chairman Greg Hawk was closed out.
Of course, in the Healy way of thinking, these are not trustworthy people.
As if Healy did not have enough problems with Council.
Now he has a new enemies list. The SCPR has learned that Councilmen Kraus, Smuckler, Barton and Prater are with the CPFA are definitely against the mayor on the cadets issue. Yours truly believes that Healy by his cavalier actions has likely created a majority in councilmembers who oppose his continuing on as mayor.
There is a certain irony is all of this too.
A SCPR source relayed a anecdotal account of Healy and the firefighters brouhaha.
It occurred during the O'Jays event at Fawcett Stadium on August 15th attended by about 15,000 people. During the event, the SCPR is told, there were 9 squad calls for medics because of the heat and humidity. Problem was, because of Canton's budget difficulities, only one medic unit was available to service the suffering.
Well, Mayor Healy was at the event. He approached one firefighter and asked "why the the delay." Answer: "Your honor, we were told that there would be no more discretionary overtime." To which Healy said "Hmm, you got me on that one."
Healy then went into action and immediately ordered two additional units to service the OJays crowd.
Hmm? No overtime, unless the mayor is being embarrassed?
The background to the cadet - "do they stay or do they go" saga is that Ream announced to CPFA president Rosario Carcione and the CPFA executive board that there was now in effect a 100% reduction in firefighter overtime and that the city adminstration was no longer going to honor a Memorandum of Understanding (negotiated between the union and former safety director Tom Nesbitt) that 37 firefighter employees each and every day was the "minimum" standard at which city of Canton firefighter/medic forces were to be staffed.
Moreover, if the CPFA went to the media with the Ream decrees, then the CPFA was threatened to do worse to the union than simply dismissing the probationary cadets.
No surprise to the SCPR.
As matters stand now, only 22 or so firefighters are on the job as Cantonians awake each morning. The number would be higher (probably 25 or so) if the cadets had not been let go by Healy. Clearly, Healy's decision has affected public safety coverage in Canton whereas Tom Ridge was there to stop Rumsfeld and Ashcroft.
Healy is clearly a "my way or the highway" type of guy. He requires the same of his subordinates or they become history very quickly. Nobody gets in the mayor's way.
The SCPR believes that Canton's "political animal" is about to do himself in. He is creating enemy after enemy after enemy.
Though he mimics Rumsfeld and Ashcroft in politicalization of nearly all that he touches, he is it. He has no president to back him up. It's all his call.
Cantonians are being worked over big time by the mayor.
"How much longer, O Lord, how much longer?"