08-18-2011, 11:44 AM #1
William "Shorty" Bryson named Fire Chief of MDFR
This was the article announcing Shorty's appointment to Miami-Dade County Fire Chief. Don't believe for a minute that Shorty walked out of here with that as a retirement figure; that included 1 year of a retro-pay settlement and contract raises that have since been stripped from us by the mutt politicians while claiming "fiscal urgency". That's the figure that the birdcage liner called the Miami Herald seems to be hanging all their overpaid firefighter arguments on. Anyway, the County got a good man in getting Shorty as their new chief and he'll take care of them. And you County guys; Shorty *really* appreciates it when you ask him to stand up whenever he begins a speech, it makes him feel loved.
Miami-Dade mayor names William ‘Shorty’ Bryson as his new fire chief
.Miami-Dade’s new fire chief will have to streamline the department to cut costs, as part of the county’s budget trimming.
Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez named William “Shorty” Bryson the chief of Miami-Dade’s Fire Rescue Department Tuesday, August 16, 2011.
BY MARTHA BRANNIGAN
Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez’s decision Tuesday to name William “Shorty” Bryson the chief of Miami-Dade’s Fire Rescue Department puts one of the mayor’s long-time trusted managers from the city of Miami into a key county slot, at the same time the county fire department is tackling major financial issues.
When Gimenez was the city manager in Miami, Bryson served as his fire chief. Prior to that, when Gimenez was the Miami fire chief, Bryson worked under him and helped Gimenez in reorganizing and streamlining that department — exactly the challenge he will be asked to take on at Miami-Dade.
Bryson, who retired as Miami’s fire chief in 2009 making $323,865 in salary and benefits, also served as president of the Miami firefighters union. His experience in that role will be summoned as he seeks major concessions from county firefighters, who are in negotiations for a new contract.
Bryson will start Thursday at the department, which has a budget of about $350 million and more than 2,500 employees. He will be paid $196,500 in salary and benefits, and the use of a take-home vehicle.
The county fire rescue department, one of the 10 largest in the United States, is widely viewed as bloated and top heavy and is one of the pivotal areas from which Gimenez will have to eke out efficiencies and win labor concessions.
“[Bryson] has done it on both sides — as a union president and as a fire chief,’’ said Dominick Barbera, president of Miami-Dade firefighters union. “He and Gimenez are friendly, and I figure the mayor had some confidence in him.’’
Barbera said in the current contract negotiations, the International Association of Firefighters Local 1403 is focusing on suggesting cost-cutting measures that would eliminate the need for proposed pay cuts the mayor has laid out.
The mayor, who has already imposed the cuts on the county’s non-union employees, is asking all union employees to give up recent raises and to contribute an additional 5 percent of their pay toward healthcare benefits. That comes on top of the 5 percent county employees are already paying for health insurance and on the heels of a recent change in Florida law that calls for deducting 3 percent of salaries as a contribution toward state-funded pensions.
In his proposed budget, which closes a $400 million gap largely through anticipated employee concessions, Gimenez is calling for removing two fire boats from service and eliminating some vacant sworn positions, but avoids any direct cuts to fire services.
The preliminary plan approved by county commissioners in July called for cutting more in the fire department than the mayor wanted in order to avoid his controversial proposal — quickly shot down — to close some library branches. That means Gimenez has to find an additional $3 million in cuts in the fire department by the time the commission votes in September on the budget and setting property tax rates for the fiscal year beginning Oct. 1.
Despite his strong credentials, Bryson may have to win over some county fire-rescue workers who would have preferred seeing one of their own elevated to the top job.
“I’m sure there will be some adjustments because he’s from the city of Miami and not from Miami-Dade,’’ said Robert Suarez, president of the Miami firefighters’ union. “Knowing the difficult economic situation the county is in, they may not welcome him with open arms. But he definitely has a reputation of working with employees and using cooperation, of sitting down with employees to come up with the best idea.’’
Interim Chief Karls Paul-Noël, who was named to that post May 30 when Herminio Lorenzo retired, announced his retirement Tuesday shortly before Bryson’s appointment was unveiled.
Paul-Noël, who worked for the Miami-Dade fire department for 27 years, said the mayor had encouraged him to continue at the department after Bryson’s appointment. “He wasn’t forcing me out. He asked me to stay on,’’ he said. “It’s a personal choice.’’
Bryson’s appointment is in keeping with Gimenez’s track record so far of hiring mostly people he has worked with elsewhere during his long stint in public life in Miami.
For example, Ed Marquez, recently named as one of five deputy mayors, was the city manager of Miami when Gimenez was fire chief. Chip Iglesias, who will start soon as a deputy mayor and chief of staff, was Gimenez’s chief of staff when Gimenez was a city manager and a county commissioner.
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