1. #1
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    Mar 2001

    Post Tampa Fla--New Mayor will take serious look at Fire Service

    Iorio To Mold Fire Services
    By WILLIAM MARCH wmarch@tampatrib.com
    Published: May 11, 2003

    TAMPA - Mayor Pam Iorio's choice for a new city fire chief won't make the biggest splash of her first year, but it will touch on one of the biggest issues: consolidation of city and county services.
    Hillsborough County's firefighters are pushing Tampa to agree that the closest firefighting units - city or county - will respond to fires and emergencies.

    Tampa has been reluctant, saying city firefighters might be so busy working county calls that response times in the city would suffer.

    But Iorio, whose background is in county government and who was endorsed in her campaign by the county firefighters union, is open to the idea.

    No obvious front- runners inside or outside the Tampa Fire Rescue Department stand out out among possible contenders for the top post. But one potential candidate is county Fire Chief Bill Nesmith.

    Nesmith said he is not sure about applying and hasn't discussed it with Iorio. ``They've asked for a resume. That's about it,'' he said.

    Choosing Nesmith ``could be an initial step toward consolidation'' of city and county fire and rescue services, said Rose Ferlita, chairwoman of the city council's public safety committee.

    Ferlita said the department has qualified candidates - ``not a broad spectrum, but I think there's enough talent there.''

    During the campaign, Iorio made the same promise about hiring a fire chief that she made about the police chief she also will hire this summer: She would hire from within.

    But to fill both jobs, Iorio now says she will look first at internal candidates with a preference to hiring from within but will look outside if she doesn't find the right in-house candidate.

    That would be a disappointment to the city firefighters union, which endorsed Iorio, and to outgoing city Fire Chief Pete Botto, who is scheduled to retire June 21. He became chief April 1, 1995.

    Whether Iorio would hire a new chief from within ``was the most-asked question to her from the members when she went from station to station'' during the campaign, said Tracy Walker, president of Tampa Firefighters Local 754. ``It was important to us for a number of reasons, including morale.''

    Walker said union members would be ``extremely disappointed'' if the new chief didn't come from within but thinks Iorio can and will make an internal hire.

    Karl Schmitt, president of the Hillsborough Firefighters Local 2294, said his union took the unusual step of endorsing and working for Iorio in the election because, ``We felt she would be more open-minded to looking at public safety outside the box.''

    The union had not previously made an endorsement in a city race, he said.

    ``Fire chiefs traditionally come from within and are protective of their turf,'' Schmitt said. ``I know Tampa wants to look inside, but they should find someone who sees the big picture.''

    He added: ``We don't feel it's our place to get involved in who she picks.''

    Botto said his top managers are cross-trained in the department's missions, including emergency rescue, fire combat and fire prevention, so they could be candidates for the department's top jobs.

    Retirement Exodus

    Because of changes in the city's retirement program that take effect this year, several top jobs are about to open.

    Besides Botto, five of the department's top eight managers have just retired or will retire this year: the second- and third-ranking officials, Assistant Chief David Keene and Deputy Chief Terry Jones; and three of the five officials at the next organizational level, Rescue Chief Bruce Savage, Personnel Chief Robert Weiss and Training Chief Marcus Stokes.

    The remaining top managers, whom Botto said could be candidates for chief, include Airport Chief Dennis Jones and Fire Marshal Gary Gonzalez; and two of the three division chiefs, James Taylor and Aria Green, the department's highest-ranking black official.

    Designating particular officials as leading candidates is difficult.

    There's a history in the department of chiefs being promoted from well down in the ranks, including the level of captain, a couple of notches below the department heads and division chiefs.

    Botto identified about 17 managers in the department he said could be candidates for the six top-level jobs opening this year. In addition, he said, there's no legal reason the retiring officials couldn't be considered.

    The Question Of Minorities

    Iorio has promised to increase minority representation in her administration. She is further along in the police chief search, an area where she might find a scarcity of minority candidates within the city.

    Her search for a fire chief could touch on at least two potential minority candidates - Green, who has been with the department 24 years, and Melvin Stone, former city fire marshal now working at Florida A&M University in Tallahassee.

    Stone, 49, a Tampa native, said he would be interested in returning to Tampa. He said black civic activists in Tampa have suggested him to Iorio and asked him to consider joining her administration.

    Iorio said she hopes to have a candidate ready to replace Botto by his retirement in June but said she hasn't talked about the search process with her chief of staff, Darrell Smith, who will head it.

    Botto said he has offered to stay on for a short period, even working for free.

    Green and Dennis Jones said they would be interested in the job, as did District Chief Charles Brown, sometimes mentioned by insiders as a potential candidate. All have 25 years or more with the department.

    Gonzalez couldn't be reached for comment.

    Reporter Keith Morelli contributed to this story. Reporter William March can be reached at (813) 259-7761.
    Last edited by captstanm1; 05-14-2003 at 06:50 AM.
    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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    Oct 2002


    I have always liked the idea of proximity dispatching thru mutual aid... Having said that I dont know enough about staffing issues in Tampa/County to say if it would work in this geographical area.

  3. #3
    District Chief
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    Mar 2001

    Default Follow up

    Tampa Tribune

    100 Days In, Iorio Is Just Starting Out
    By WILLIAM MARCH wmarch@tampatrib.com
    Published: Jul 6, 2003

    TAMPA - During her campaign, Mayor Pam Iorio's favorite word was ``livable,'' as in, ``I want to make Tampa a more livable city.''
    But since she took office, 100 days ago Wednesday, she frequently uses another word: ``Unacceptable.''

    As in: ``There is currently an eight-year wait for a sidewalk to get built. This is unacceptable.''

    Or: ``There are 18 known drug holes in [east Tampa]. That is unacceptable.''

    It's not that the mayor thinks everything in city hall is wrong, friends and associates say.

    But compared with her predecessor, Dick Greco, she has definite ideas about how things should be done and puts those ideas into effect strictly.

    That has brought a change in the culture and climate of city hall - a change that could be the most significant result of her first three months in office.

    Iorio says a 100-day measure of her tenure isn't significant. ``We are laying a foundation for the rest of the decade and beyond,'' she said.

    Asked about her major accomplishments so far, she led with something few residents would even notice: reorganization of the top city management structure and the not- yet-completed process of hiring her top staff.

    But to those who work in and observe city hall, it's obvious there has been a change.

    When Iorio took office, there were predictions that the new mayor, inexperienced in city government, would cause an initial power vacuum.

    She made short work of that idea, acting decisively to take control of the city from her first days in office.

    Within the first two weeks, she stopped short two major initiatives on the verge of passage by the city council - a new ethics policy and a new stormwater drainage fee - so her own team could rework them.

    She intervened in a council flap over renaming a street for the St. Pete Times Forum, after some council members questioned it. The request was withdrawn.

    Iorio made it clear her administration will seek to be aware of everything that goes on in city hall, even requiring council draft agendas to go through her chief of staff, Darrell Smith, before publication.

    That amounted to a major change in management style from the previous administration.

    Greco ``had a looser style,'' said Parks and Recreation Director Ross Ferlita, who has worked under no fewer than six mayors.

    The former mayor was more personal and relaxed, less concerned with organization, management structure and details.

    Iorio, who some call a ``public administration wonk,'' focuses on management, pays attention to detail and obsesses over ``best practices,'' or management techniques proven to work.

    She salts her conversation with management-school phrases such as ``span of control.''

    ``Don't send this mayor anything to sign without the back-up documentation paper-clipped to it,'' the mayor's special assistant, Fran Davin, said.

    Signs of the change aren't hard to find.

    Around city offices, there are more ties and fewer casual clothes on Fridays.

    Iorio's staff meetings start on the minute and end in an hour. ``We used to socialize more,'' recently retired Fire Chief Pete Botto said.

    Internal city hall e-mail bulletins and newsletters focus more on city initiatives, not just birthdays and anniversaries.

    ``There's a greater interest in the way we operate day-to-day, more focus on customer service,'' said Richard Coane, employment services manager in the personnel department.

    Visible Changes

    But there are other, more visible changes that residents may have noticed or soon will.

    The biggest probably was Operation Commitment, Iorio's crackdown on drug dealers, prostitutes and code violators in east Tampa.

    The two-week enforcement effort yielded 435 arrests and 383 citations for violations including overgrown yards and derelict vehicles.

    Residents said afterward that they felt safer on their streets, but that no one believes a two-week crackdown alone will solve the problems.

    Iorio promises it's the beginning of a sustained effort that will do more than push dealers and prostitutes from one corner to another and will be part of an overall economic development effort in the area.

    In another law enforcement change, Iorio has ordered code enforcement officers, under new Director Curtis Lane, to go out and patrol city streets looking for violations. No longer, she said, will they issue citations only in response to complaints.

    She said the officers were glad for the change. ``I think it was unacceptable for them not to be able to do their jobs,'' she said.

    The third change most noticeable to residents may be more black faces in upper city management.

    Iorio hired Aria Green as the city's first black fire chief, and five of her 14 top hires so far are black.

    Still, the change hasn't been as significant as some black civic activists want. City council member Kevin White said he's ``getting a feeling from some of the Hispanic people in my district that the Hispanic component is being neglected.''

    Only one of those top hires, spokeswoman Susanna Martinez, is Hispanic.

    But Iorio points out that she's little more than halfway through hiring her top administrators. She will continue seeking diversity in her hiring, she said, ``and I'd like people to wait and judge me by the totality.''

    Just Starting

    Iorio is barely off the ground on two of what will be the biggest initiatives of her administration: fixing the city's stormwater drainage system and establishing a cultural arts district, grounded with an expanded Tampa Museum of Art.

    Before Iorio took office, the city council had given initial approval to a stormwater drainage fee that could help pay to fix the city's street-flooding problems.

    At her request, the council held off final approval until City Attorney Fred Karl and utility officials could produce a comprehensive proposal for a new stormwater utility, funded by a new fee, with a plan for solving the problems. It's expected to come to the council this summer.

    The museum, the anchor of the cultural arts district, depends on a private fundraising drive to raise the final $17 million of the $62 million cost.

    It recently hit two snags beyond the mayor's control - cuts in state arts funding that took $2.5 million out of the project, and the resignation of former fund drive Chairman James L. Ferman Jr. He has been replaced by Bank of Tampa President A. Gerald Divers.

    Another item Iorio lists among her 100-day accomplishments is dealing with what she called ``inherited situations,'' problems held over from the last administration.

    One was Cancer Survivor Plaza, a part of Al Lopez Park.

    Intended to be completed by a fundraising drive, it was never finished. Now, the philanthropists who gave the city $500,000 for the park, Richard A. Bloch, co-founder of the H&R Block tax consulting service, wants the city to finish it or return his money.

    Iorio says she will restart the fund drive. Paul Wilborn, hired to deal with cultural issues, has been charged with heading the fundraising efforts.

    Another is a city obligation to repay the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development for improper use of federal grant money, in the city's low-cost housing loan program, formerly run by Steve LaBrake.

    The cost could be $2 million to $4 million, city officials say.

    Iorio said the same thing about both situations:

    ``This will not be the way my administration does business.''

    Reporter William March can be reached at (813) 259-7761.
    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.

  4. #4
    District Chief
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    Mar 2001

    Post Fire Department Administration Re-Organized

    St. Petersburg Times

    Iorio reshapes Tampa Fire Rescue's leadership
    Cutting top supervisory jobs will save nearly $300,000 and help in hiring seven more firefighters, City Hall says.

    By KATHRYN WEXLER, Times Staff Writer
    St. Petersburg Times
    published July 23, 2003

    TAMPA - Mayor Pam Iorio's office announced on Tuesday a reorganization of top management at Tampa Fire Rescue as part of the newly elected mayor's push to have less management and more street-level service in city government.

    The shakeup is the first in what the mayor promises will be a series as her administration scrutinizes all city departments in an effort to cut costs and winnow the upper levels of personnel rosters.

    "We expect this to occur in all departments - to streamline and invest those (saved) moneys into direct services to the public," said Iorio, who took office in late March.

    "That's going to be the philosophy of my administration," she said.

    Fire Rescue is eliminating the posts of assistant rescue chief, fire communications chief and special assistant to the fire chief. Among the other changes, the department will shift three supervisory jobs in the Fire Marshal's Office to lower level posts.

    The changes will cut costs by at least $292,000, according to City Hall officials. That money will go toward hiring seven more firefighters in the next fiscal year.

    Fire Rescue officials have long complained that they don't have enough firefighters to properly man fire engines during routine calls for help. The department has a total of 520 sworn employees.

    Iorio's new Fire Rescue chief, Aria Green, said he worked with Iorio to come up with the cuts, which he thinks will improve service. In addition to the seven new hires, several administrative supervisors will now respond to emergencies. Also, the reshuffling of the staff will create two inspector positions and one investigator, Green said.

    The staff knew that the changes were coming, Green said.

    "These are areas I think everybody in the department knew were a little bit top-heavy," the chief said. "You don't have to be an Einstein to come up with these things."

    In addition, Green announced two appointments to his management team: James Taylor, who became assistant chief of administration; and Richard Vigil, appointed assistant chief of operations.

    Other shifts: assistant fire marshal Todd Spear becomes personnel chief; fire investigations supervisor Michael Gonzalez becomes training chief; and district chief James Phillips becomes rescue chief. Roland Gary Gonzalez will continue as fire marshal.

    The president of the firefighters union was less than happy about the elimination of high-ranking slots.

    "Overall, I think they promoted a bunch of quality people . . . (but) we would have, on the other hand, been happier if they'd sharpened the knife and taken a look at civilian staff," said Lt. Tracy Walker, president of Local 754.

    "We don't want to lose our upward mobility," Walker said.

    - Kathryn Wexler can be reached at wexler@sptimes.com or 226-3383.
    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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