Firefighters take wage freeze – commissioners secure perks


While the SKF&R firefighters union made their second concession is as many years, two commissioners were rewriting the mileage policy to ensure their perks were not at risk.


Commissioner Fossos and Rickert both file forms to get paid for driving to and from all of their meetings, in-district or otherwise.

The other three commissioners restrain themselves but sit in complicit silence.

In January, all five of these elected officials praised the firefighters for making contractual changes and foregoing wages, again.


But in true hypocritical form, come Commissioners Fossos and Rickert. They demand to be paid every single dime they can get.

The attitude of these two commissioners is putting the funding of the entire district at risk.

Because of their proven greed and me-first mentality, I do not trust them for one second to not pursue seeking every dime possible from the taxpayer.

Give them a penny and they will write self-serving policy to take a dollar. And the rest of the board remains complicit in not tempering or denying these perks.


Might lose the money? We will just rewrite the policy!

Instead of adopting sound fiscal policy, they continue to approve money wasting mandates.

When given the opportunity to refine the per diem resolution, at the suggestion of the State Auditor Office, to its intended and stated purpose of out of district travel, they instead merely watered it down to allow more money to easily flow into their pocket for perks.

Commissioner Fossos and Commissioner Rickert are jointly responsible for the failure of this district to show basic respect for the taxpayer and much needed responsible financial leadership ar even share the burden of any failed taxing scheme soundly rejected by the voter.

Responsible or simply arrogant?

Putting themselves above the interests of the firefighters and the citizens of the district is just plain arrogance.

They talk a good game over there, but behind the scenes they repeatedly prove their wallet is more important than your safety.

They continue to take advantage of you by taking the excess while promoting a ballot measure for the appropriately named “Excess” levy.


I say we put a stop to it until proven responsible leadership can be shown.

Vote No on South King Fire & Rescue Prop 1


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Per Diem is all better now


For over a decade, the intent and language of Resolution 320 was to reimburse district personnel mileage and meals (per diem) for travel requiring personnel to leave the district.

The budget has been dire for the past two years.

The commissioners are responsible for the budget, and ensuring adequate revenues for our safety.

For two years in a row, your boots-on-the-ground firefighters inked contracts that froze their wages.

For those same two years, refusing to concede ‘what is due them’, two of our commissioners squeezed every dime they legally could out of the taxpayer, while refusing to make responsible leadership decisions.

Two commissioners are on the policy committee, responsible for reviewing all policies governing commissioners and other district personnel.

So, when repeatedly brought to the attention that two of our commissioners continue to suck the account for every dime, and on advice to clarify language in one of those policies as suggested by the state auditors office, what do these responsible public officials do?

Respect the firefighters wage freezes? Stop taking mileage for in-district travel? Stop eating special diet meals (which you pay for) at meetings?

Nope. Just rewrite the rules to fit their wants and spending desires.


It is all better now

Resolution 320 has stood responsible for decades, until the greed of two commissioners saw it as an impediment to their paycheck.

All of my public records requests reveal that in the entire district of over 120 personnel, only two people ever demand and take mileage pay for in-district travel.

On January 26, 2012, at the suggestion of the Sate Auditor Office, and to preserve their in-district mileage perk, the board passed the first revision of Resolution 320 in over a decade.

Nice to know these two commissioners can now continue to take their in-district mileage pay with a clean conscience.

Meanwhile, the brave folks who willingly put their lives on the line to save yours, your boots-on-the-ground firefighters will continue to take pay cuts.

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Here are the comments offered for a responsible budget proposal, and concerns about Special meetings notifications in compliance with RCW 42.30.080.


And the response from Joe Quinn, attorney for the district.


As long as one diligent member of the public ferrets out the meeting dates and attends, it sounds like he is declaring that the rest of the public can remain in the dark.


Watch the video and tell me what you think.

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Three sitting commissioners and a few administrators expressed desire to know what budget options were preferred from ‘members of the public’.
But when the only ‘member of the public’ to attend the meeting asked permission to speak, Commissioner Bill Gates, chairing the meeting, said NO!

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If we don’t tell the public that something we did for them exists, can we just make it go away? Apparently YES!

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Aren’t we due an increase in per diem yet?

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At the meeting on the 22nd, there was a lot of support mentioned for our injured firefighter Wynn Loiland.

It was reported that he has been gaining ground on recovery and is progressing well in a physical therapy program.

I wish him the best on this difficult road.


Meanwhile, business continues at the fire district.

Almost every person at the meeting that spoke of the accident included some reference to information only available on this web site. Interestingly, the comments seem to indicate that many in the department are either being kept totally in a vacuum or are wholly in denial.

So while the ‘you do not need to respond’ letter was drafted by the fire chief indicates that it was all about Wynn and his recovery, he fails to mention that within the department this is not really the case.

From the beginning, I have asked if Deputy Chief Gordon Olson made an honest and accurate statement to the press, then why do we have a firefighter in the hospital. Facts continue to unfold that  D/C Olson was misinforming the public. And that the mis-leading information may have been deliberately put forth. After all, unless the information was checked or challenged, who would ever have known it was false?

The facts that are coming out clearly show the freeway incident response protocol, which is well documented, was not followed and the first department apparatus on the scene, Engine E-66 was not properly placed to protect the scene.

And that lack of following procedure was a direct cause leading to our injured fire fighter.


Three investigations, three conclusions?


Both the Washington State Patrol and the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries are conducting extensive investigations into this incident. But the district is not satisfied with merely having public agencies investigate. Your chief has a backup plan.

Preparing for a major lawsuit, your hard earned tax dollars are now being spent to pay for a third investigative report. An Independent Investigation has been launched.


Preparing for the Lawsuit

This was not announced in a press release, or mentioned by the fire chief  to the board of commissioners. (Actually, the fire chief was again not present at the commissioners meeting, marking the second absence in as many meetings.)

Indeed, this use of tax money should have been an action originated by the board of commissioners. But that would have meant public awareness. Which is frowned upon by this administration as well as the board.

Instead, as a supplement to the last board of commissioners meeting of the year, Assistant Chief Ed Plumlee asked several administrative staff for department reports. It was in one of those reports that a department head made public, (and maybe some of the commissioners heard it from him for the first time also) that an Independent Investigation was ensuing.


Why an Independent Investigation?

There are two ongoing investigation being conducted. Because the incident was on I-5, the Washington State Patrol has jurisdiction.

Because it was a job related incident, the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries get involved.

Not much more can be gained by taking your tax dollars and paying for another opinion, can it?

Unless the department is preparing for litigation.

It may already have been initiated, but this district is not talking.

Your fire chief has decided that spending money on unwarranted extra investigations is a good idea.Do you? Or do you think this is just another reason to question his abilities as a responsible and conscientious administrator?


Termination without cause

There are enough members on the board of commissioners that I have little question no matter how much ’cause’ may be available for terminating the chief contract, these commissioners will make sure it is worded to be ‘without cause’.

They will do everything possible to protect their friends retirement package that quietly voted for last year.

You see, even if these decisions by the chief culminate in releasing him from his contract, he still gets his $339,000 termination bonus and all earned benefits at a cost of hundreds of thousands of dollars per year.

Some more nice budget conscious management decisions from your board.

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Chief Church grabs $500 bonus each time he goes out of state in spite of dire budget, and in stark reversal of union employees taking wage freeze and other employees getting laid off.

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Should you be required to pay additional costs of a sprinkler system? When your commissioners think it not necessary on their own homes?

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My thoughts are with Firefighter Wynn Loiland and his family, both his personal family and the entire department.




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