1. #1
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    Post Fire Commissioner Resigns--Lealman Florida

    Lealman Florida--Pinellas County

    In yet another political controversy in Florida, a Fire Commissioner resigns after refusing to sign a new contract for the Fire Chief.


    http://www.sptimes.com/2002/08/25/So...an_Fire_.shtml
    09-11 .. 343 "All Gave Some..Some Gave ALL" God Bless..R.I.P.
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    It sounds like they have a good chief there....leave it to a mutt politician to muck up the works! She should resign from the commission entirely...the firefighters don't need her "support"!
    ‎"The education of a firefighter and the continued education of a firefighter is what makes "real" firefighters. Continuous skill development is the core of progressive firefighting. We learn by doing and doing it again and again, both on the training ground and the fireground."
    Lt. Ray McCormack, FDNY

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    Post Commissioner Gone...Battle Continues

    Even with the Chariman of the Commission gone...the barbs continue to fly.

    http://www.sptimes.com/2002/08/28/So...d_within.shtml
    09-11 .. 343 "All Gave Some..Some Gave ALL" God Bless..R.I.P.
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    If she is not following the rules of her own commission, then I think a recall election is in order...toss her out!
    ‎"The education of a firefighter and the continued education of a firefighter is what makes "real" firefighters. Continuous skill development is the core of progressive firefighting. We learn by doing and doing it again and again, both on the training ground and the fireground."
    Lt. Ray McCormack, FDNY

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    Default The controversy continues...

    ST. Petersburg Times--South Pinellas Edition

    Fire chief's contract spawns controversy
    Board member Linda Campbell raised questions about the contract. The commission's response agitates some local leaders.
    By ANNE LINDBERG, Times Staff Writer
    St. Petersburg Times
    published September 22, 2002


    ------------------------------------

    LEALMAN -- Community activists verbally attacked Lealman fire commissioners last week, saying the elected officials are an "embarrassment" and have set a poor example of leadership for people who are thinking of forming a city.

    Commissioners failed to act professionally and responsibly when they refused to listen to board member Linda Campbell's questions about fire Chief Rick Graham's contract, the neighbors said. The 10-year agreement, they said, was full of monetary perks and commissioners should have delayed a vote when Campbell questioned the document's legality and fiscal sense.

    Commission members attacked Campbell, their chairwoman at the time, the neighbors said. Then Mike Brophy accused Campbell of violating the group's bylaws and said he would publicly ask for her resignation.

    The other board members declined to do so at Tuesday's meeting.

    "The whole thing that played out on this board embarrassed this community. It embarrassed me," said Ray Neri, head of the Lealman Community Association. Neri said he was speaking for himself.

    The situation was particularly distressing, he said, because activists may try to establish a "Lealman city." If commission members don't act professionally, cityhood will be a hard sell because people will think that a potential mayor and council will act just as badly, Neri said.

    The other commissioners, Neri said, "ganged up" on Campbell because of her abrasive style. In doing so, he said, Brophy, Kathleen Litton, Bill Adams and Becky Harriman let their personal feelings interfere with their duty to protect taxpayers.

    "It didn't have to go this far," Neri said.

    Brophy defended himself, saying he'd contacted Andrew Salzman, the commission's attorney, for advice.

    "I wrote her up because that's what it said to do," Brophy said. "The issue is closed."

    But Lealman residents disagreed.

    Sasha Friedman repeated that the chief's contract should have been tabled once Campbell raised questions of legality concerning comp time, which allows Graham to amass vacation days under the contract.

    "She raised a legitimate issue," Friedman said.

    Graham can bank up to 850 hours, a little more than 21 weeks, of vacation time, which taxpayers would have to pay him for should he leave or be fired. Every year, the district must write him a check for one-half the vacation hours he amasses over that 850-hour cap.

    If Graham left the department with that much comp time accrued, he would be entitled to a lump sum -- $27,732, about 40 percent of his $67,860 annual salary.

    John Frank, running against Litton in the November election, questioned how long the contract was for. The agreement says it's for 10 years with a 10-year renewal, yet Frank said he understood board members called it a "six-month contract."

    Brophy said that was true because the contract allows the commission to terminate Graham by giving him six months salary.

    "If you're going to terminate somebody without just cause, they do need to get bought off," Brophy said.

    But Frank pointed out the contract "contradicts itself" because it also says if Graham is terminated the matter goes to a mediator.

    Salzman, the commission's attorney, said, "The intent (is) it's basically a six-month severance."

    Frank said that, as a lawyer, Salzman should understand the difference between "intent and what's there" in the contract. He asked Salzman to look at it and explain what clause ruled.

    Salzman said he only answered to the commission.

    Brophy: "You're not gonna get, you're not gonna get, you're not gonna get severance pay if you're fired."

    The arbitration clause applies only if Graham is fired with "just cause," Brophy said.

    Frank said the contract didn't say that. It opens the door to arbitration for any reason "in the event of termination," he said quoting from the document.

    Brophy defended the apparent contradiction, saying that the commission would not fire someone without just cause.
    09-11 .. 343 "All Gave Some..Some Gave ALL" God Bless..R.I.P.
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    IACOJ Minister of Southern Comfort
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    The comments, opinions, and positions expressed here are mine. They are expressed respectfully, in the spirit of safety and progress. They do not reflect the opinions or positions of my employer or my department.

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    Post More Lealman Fire Commission News...Raise Suggest for Fire Chief

    Give fire chief 7% raise, one boss urges

    Other Lealman fire commissioners do not respond, but one says later that a raise that high would be unfair.

    By ANNE LINDBERG, Times Staff Writer
    St. Petersburg Times
    published January 8, 2003

    LEALMAN -- Fire Commission chairman Mike Brophy has proposed giving the chief a 7 percent raise, retroactive to Oct. 1.

    A salary hike of about $4,751 a year would increase Rick Graham's annual salary to about $72,621. Fire commissioners likely will vote on the pay raise at their Jan. 20 meeting.

    Brophy's suggestion, made during a workshop meeting, was greeted with silence by other commission members.

    Commissioner Bill Adams said after the meeting that he had been too stunned to comment: "I was dumbfounded when he announced that. That's why I didn't say anything."

    Adams said he had already told Graham that he should get no more than a 3 percent raise -- or the minimum raise the chief can get under the 10-year contract the commission gave him last year.

    Graham is doing a great job, Adams said, but most Lealman residents will not get that high a salary jump. And neighbors on Social Security will receive only 1.4 percent more than last year, the smallest increase in their checks in four years, or about $13 more a month for the typical retiree. An increase in Medicare costs will consume about a third of that increase.

    "I didn't feel that he should get more than his constituents," Adams said.

    Brophy said during the meeting that he made his decision after assessing board members' evaluations of the chief's performance, but not all commissioners had turned them in.

    Adams said he hadn't submitted an evaluation; neither did new Commissioner John Frank. That left evaluations written by Commissioners Brophy, Linda Campbell and Rebecca Harriman and one by Kathleen Litton, who submitted one before she left office after the November election.

    Brophy said Monday he could not give copies of the job evaluations to a reporter because he had taken the originals home to work on them and had not brought them back. Brophy said he'd return them Tuesday morning, but they were not available until later in the day, after Neighborhood Times' deadline.

    Brophy's removal of original public records from Fire Station 18, where they are supposed to remain, raises major concerns, said Penelope Bryan, a St. Petersburg attorney who represents the Times in public records and First Amendment issues.

    "That's really not consistent with the public's rights," Bryan said. "They have put themselves in a very bad position. ... The whole intent (of the public records law) is to make sure the records are available to the public on demand. ... This official's decision to store public records at home raises legitimate questions about the integrity of the records."

    Bryan asked, "Is the public supposed to go knocking at his door if they want these records? Should we publish his address for the public benefit? That's just grossly irresponsible."

    If Graham does get the 7 percent raise, he'll be at the high end of the scale for raises in the Lealman Fire Department. His assistant, Deputy Chief David Brown, got a 7 percent raise. Other chiefs in the department received raises of 5 or 6 percent. The firefighter/paramedics received a 5 percent raise and the firefighter/EMTs (emergency medical technicians) received 4 percent.

    Pinellas Park gave its fire chief, Ken Cramer, a 2.5 percent increase on Oct. 1. If his evaluation is satisfactory, he'll get another 2.5 percent.

    Cramer currently earns about $94,000 a year, substantially more than Graham. But Cramer has been Pinellas Park's fire chief for more than 24 years. Cramer oversees four stations with 97 employees and manages a budget of about $6.4-million.

    Seminole fire Chief Dan Graves' current salary of about $81,200 includes a 3 percent cost-of-living raise. If Graves receives a satisfactory evaluation, he'll get another 2.5 percent increase.

    Graves has been the Seminole chief since 2000, rising through the ranks. He oversees four stations and 90 employees and administers a $7.4-million budget.

    Graham, like Graves, has been chief since 2000. He oversees two stations, 50 employees and a $4.9-million budget.
    09-11 .. 343 "All Gave Some..Some Gave ALL" God Bless..R.I.P.
    ------------------------------
    IACOJ Minister of Southern Comfort
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    ------------------------------
    The comments, opinions, and positions expressed here are mine. They are expressed respectfully, in the spirit of safety and progress. They do not reflect the opinions or positions of my employer or my department.

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    Post Chief gets raise...just not as much

    St. Petersburg Times--South Pinellas

    Fire chief's pay raise approved, but lower
    Lealman's Rick Graham earns a 4 percent raise, though 7 percent had been recommended.

    By ANNE LINDBERG, Times Staff Writer
    St. Petersburg Times
    published January 22, 2003


    LEALMAN -- Fire commissioners unanimously agreed to give Chief Rick Graham a 4 percent raise, substantially less than the board chairman's earlier recommendation.

    Graham's salary increases to $70,585 a year -- about $2,000 less than the chief would have pocketed had the board granted him the 7 percent raise that Mike Brophy proposed.

    Although the vote was unanimous, commissioners began the discussion on a discordant note.

    Brophy said the newest board member, John Frank, should be disqualified from voting on the matter because he wasn't on the commission when Graham should have gotten the raise.

    The raise was delayed because board member Bill Adams failed to turn in his evaluation of Graham's job performance. Brophy went ahead and compiled the results without Adams' input.

    Commission attorney Andrew Salzman ruled that Frank would vote because he was a board member at the time of the vote.

    Later in the debate, Brophy suggested that former board member Kathleen Litton, who was in the audience, might have something to say. Frank defeated Litton in the November election.

    Litton directed her comment to Salzman.

    "I don't understand why you have a commissioner voting for this who wasn't on the board for the past year," Litton said.

    Said Salzman, "It's the law."

    When someone is elected to office, the attorney said, he or she takes over the duties of the office and is required to vote on all issues unless there is a conflict of interest.

    The remainder of the discussion centered on whether the chief's job evaluations, which praised his performance, required that he receive a high raise.

    Brophy said they did, saying the high evaluations meant "we agreed on a 7 percent raise."

    But other board members said the two issues were separate. A high performance evaluation doesn't necessarily translate into a big raise, they said. Other items, such as the economy and the budget, must be considered.

    The taxpayers also must be considered, Adams said. Lealman has some of the poorest people in the county, who are struggling to pay high fire taxes. Those people, he said, are not getting huge raises.

    "I'd love for (Graham) to get a 10 percent raise, but let's be realistic," Adams said.

    He suggested a 3 percent raise, the minimum allowed by the chief's contract.

    "I think that would be more fair to his constituents," Adams said. "We are all working for the public."

    Commission member Becky Harriman suggested 4 percent.

    "There's going to be some controversy with anything over 4 percent," Harriman said.

    Adams moved to grant Graham a 4 percent raise, retroactive to Oct. 3, the date the raise was due. Frank seconded it.

    Graham thanked the commission, saying, "I'm glad to get that off my plate."

    Brophy then chided Adams for failing to turn in the job evaluation on time.
    09-11 .. 343 "All Gave Some..Some Gave ALL" God Bless..R.I.P.
    ------------------------------
    IACOJ Minister of Southern Comfort
    "Purple Hydrant" Recipient (3 Times)
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    ------------------------------
    The comments, opinions, and positions expressed here are mine. They are expressed respectfully, in the spirit of safety and progress. They do not reflect the opinions or positions of my employer or my department.

  8. #8
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    Angry

    Litton directed her comment to Salzman.

    "I don't understand why you have a commissioner voting for this who wasn't on the board for the past year," Litton said.
    This is why it takes so long for local politics to work. Some of them are so damn stupid about the way the law works. She gets voted out, and then thinks she should be able to vote on stuff that was in the works during the election? Or that her seat shouldn't cast a vote? What planet is she on?

    Someone thought she would have something to say on the issue? BULLS#!+!! If the residents wanted her to have something to say on the matter, they would've re-elected her.

    Shhheesshh. Why was she even at the meeting? Go home and watch TV. You're not on this Board anymore.
    Omnis Cedo Domus

    www.hinckleyfd.org

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    These are two totally unrelated stories, but I just realized tonight that this Andrew Salzman (attorney) gets around. He is also the attorney for the Fire District in Spring Hill. (see "Follow-up to Florida Firefighters Accused." Even though they are 180 degrees opposite of each other and miles apart (50 or more) it is interesting that he is dealing with two controversies involving fire commissioners and disgruntled ex-fire commissioners who are now serving as disgruntled citizens.
    09-11 .. 343 "All Gave Some..Some Gave ALL" God Bless..R.I.P.
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    IACOJ Minister of Southern Comfort
    "Purple Hydrant" Recipient (3 Times)
    BMI Investigator
    ------------------------------
    The comments, opinions, and positions expressed here are mine. They are expressed respectfully, in the spirit of safety and progress. They do not reflect the opinions or positions of my employer or my department.

  10. #10
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    Post Commissioners Clash @ Meeting

    Lealman fire commissioners clash at workshop

    The division in the district deepens, with a suggestion that one board member shape up or resign.

    By ANNE LINDBERG, Times Staff Writer
    St. Petersburg Times
    published August 6, 2003


    LEALMAN - Fire commissioners snarled through a workshop Monday, with Linda Campbell ultimately suggesting that John Frank should resign from the board.

    Campbell said Frank had "embarrassed" her last month when he said that Mike Brophy should step down as chairman of the Lealman Fire Commission because of an e-mail he had sent to the county without commission approval.

    "I was shocked. I was appalled. I couldn't believe what I was hearing," Campbell said Monday. Later, she said Frank needed to get his act together or "you need to resign."

    "You are not a team player here. You are not a team player," Campbell said.

    Frank said he was offended by Campbell's comments.

    "Good!" Campbell replied.

    The argument was the flashpoint of a contentious meeting.

    Campbell and Brophy first took on Frank and Commissioner Bill Adams when they questioned the proposed purchase of a sport utility vehicle.

    Frank and Adams also questioned how Deputy Chief David Brown obtained the price of about $30,000.

    Brown and Chief Rick Graham have said the SUV would replace a car driven by fire marshal Bob Christy. But after Frank and Adams repeatedly asked why Christy would need an expensive vehicle with a towing package and leather seats, the chiefs conceded that the truck would go to Brown. Christy would get the car that Brown currently drives.

    Frank and Adams said the chiefs misrepresented facts, but Brophy and Campbell were not concerned. Brophy said it's Graham's prerogative to assign vehicles. And Campbell said the expensive truck is justified because of the number of calls the Lealman department runs.

    Frank wondered how many times Brown, an administrative officer, goes to scenes.

    If it's just one time, it's enough, Brophy said.

    "So one time is worth $31,000?" Frank asked.

    Campbell accused Frank of twisting things. And Brophy said, "You're taking things out of context. . . . You have to use common sense."

    Adams questioned the bidding process. Brown said he had called a few dealers and gotten quotes. Some dealers didn't want to give quotes, he said.

    But Adams said the proper way was to set specifications and advertise for bids. He said he had gotten two lower bids just by calling other dealerships.

    "A phone call is not putting it out for bids," he said.

    Campbell said bidding would take too long.

    And Brown, the deputy chief, said Christy's car could blow up while waiting for bids. In that case, Brown said, his car would go to Christy. Graham would have to pick up Brown or he would have to use cabs, Brown said.

    Brophy said, "This is the fourth time this has been on the agenda."

    Campbell said the item needs to go on the next meeting agenda "for a vote . . . with no discussion. . . . I'm just tired of beating this dead horse."

    Finally, they agreed to set specifications and ask for prices. Adams was given the job of doing so and bringing the bids back to the commission.

    "What information do you want?" Adams asked.

    Brophy's voice got louder: "I don't want. You want. . . . Why did this issue become so complicated?"

    Adams: "Because we're talking about spending 30,000 of taxpayers' dollars."

    Later, Lealman resident Julie Adams, who is no relation to the commissioner, told the panel she was "disappointed" in what she'd seen during the past few meetings.

    The board has "for lack of a better word, gotten spoiled by the lack of attendance at public meetings," Ms. Adams said. She said she was not sure if the board members were worried about what their constituents think and suggested that their priorities need to change.

    Campbell tried to ask her for details, but Brophy prevented it, saying interchanges with citizens were not allowed.

    Campbell persisted, saying they needed to find out what Ms. Adams was talking about.

    Ms. Adams said she couldn't specify because commission rules forbid taxpayers from discussing anything that is on the agenda or that has been voted on.

    "It's supposed to be just a comment and go on from there," Brophy said. "If you start changing the rules in midstream, you open up a bag of worms. You're damned if you do, damned if you don't."

    But Brophy has waived the rules in the past for people who have spoken favorably of his or the board's stances. Ms. Adams, he said, could write a letter explaining her complaints.

    Frank later said he wanted to make sure his call for Brophy's resignation as chairman be placed on the next meeting agenda.

    Brophy refused, saying he sets the agenda. If Frank or other board members want something on the agenda, the board must vote.

    Frank expressed his amazement. And Campbell jumped in, saying Frank had embarrassed her last month when he first raised the issue and "attacked" Brophy.

    "We had to sit here and listen to you berate the chair," she said. She criticized Frank because he "hovered over" a pile of the copies of an e-mail Brophy had sent to county Commissioner Ken Welch and copied to other county officials. The e-mail had asked for the county to give the fire district up to half the Lealman Park for a new fire station.

    Frank said Brophy had sent the e-mails in violation of a decision by the group that he would pass all correspondence about the park in front of the board before sending it.

    Brophy said the e-mail was sent not as a representative of the commission: "It was a personal e-mail with my opinion."

    But a copy of the mail shows Brophy signed it: Michael Brophy, Commissioner, Lealman Special Fire Control District.
    09-11 .. 343 "All Gave Some..Some Gave ALL" God Bless..R.I.P.
    ------------------------------
    IACOJ Minister of Southern Comfort
    "Purple Hydrant" Recipient (3 Times)
    BMI Investigator
    ------------------------------
    The comments, opinions, and positions expressed here are mine. They are expressed respectfully, in the spirit of safety and progress. They do not reflect the opinions or positions of my employer or my department.

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