Nov 27, 2012

At The Mayor's Pleasure

Yesterday morning, as is my usual routine, I wrote down a topic for today, and in true tabloid fashion, searched the molovinsky on allentown archives for a photograph. The premise was a speculation on why Fire Chief Scheirer was compromising fire staffing standards to endorse Pawlowski's budget. In addition to the short staff, we are short the fire station on the east side. Although I have a better picture of the former station, this was the only one the staff could locate. About mid-day, Emily Opilo, Morning Call Allentown reporter, wrote a blog post about Scheirer. She had located a public letter he wrote about ten years ago, to his wife. In it, he explains that if he is killed fighting a fire, it's probably because the department is understaffed. Powerful stuff Ms. Opilo unloaded. I decided that I would still go ahead with this post, because my slant was the perilous condition that having no firehouse imposed on the east side. Apparently, Emily Opilo and I had the same breakfast yesterday. An article by her on the missing fire house will appear in Tuesday's paper. Not only an article, but an excellent piece, questioning why the former fire house was allowed to deteriorate beyond repair, and acknowledging Dennis Pearson, for his consistent east side advocacy. The supposed delay constructing the new fire station is a one million dollar cost overrun on the estimate. Is this the same city in which a $77 million hockey arena will now cost $244 million, without losing a beat? If ever there was an example of misplaced priorities in a city government, the East Side Fire Station wins the national prize. My early morning speculation yesterday was that Chief Robert Scheirer was playing ball because he wants to be Allentown's first Public Safety Director. Sources at City Hall tell me that such a reorganization is probably not in the current cards, and he simply serves at the mayor's pleasure, to keep his chief's hat.


Anonymous said...

Your ability to get such well placed sources never ceases to amaze me.

Anonymous said...

You are correct that it appears the Fire Chief must bite his tongue and not complain about the decrease in staffing in order to keep his job. The proposed 2013 budget shows his silence on the matter is being rewarded with a 5000.00 annual salary increase.

Anonymous said...

Of the two issues (staffing/fire station), the more concerning to me is the prolonged closure of the East Side Fire Station. That directly effects response times to a large section of the City. I hope that voters remember who was serving as Mayor and on council when this situation occurred.

Regarding staffing, I think it's fair to ask the union to give back on their contracts to help maintain an adequate staffing level. They should realize that there are consequences to pursuing overly-generous retirement benefits.

Anonymous said...

Anon 7:19

You are correct that there are consequences as a result of overly generous retirement benefits but the benefits were not the union's idea. At the time, Mayor Afflerbach proposed the benefits to encourage senior members to retire. The union simply agreed. Future mismanagement of overtime led to ridiculous pensions being granted. Thankfully, The pension system was reformed this year and the massive pensions will hopefully be a thing of the past.
As far as the station is concerned, when (if) it is built and reopened it will be staffed with only 3 rather than the recommended 4 firefighters.