Double the revenue (thanks to you!!) but half the promised firefighters!

Tell FEMA one thing, tell the voter another, just don’t tell both of them the truth.

What Gives?

 

When the fire department asks you for more money, remember this slight-of-hand.

What does this phrase mean to you? It was on the ballot you voted YES for in August.

A Yes vote on the Excess Levy will “allow the district to re-staff an aid car for emergency responses“?

This appears in the Explanatory Statement, last sentence of the first paragraph.

If you thought the fire department intended to use your tax money to hire enough full time firefighters to put one aid car back on the street, you are DEAD WRONG!

Now read what is means to the fire department.

Facts:

In January of this year South King Fire & Rescue (SKF&R) board of commissioners passed resolutions to put forth an Excess Levy to the voters of the district for $3.5 million per year for four (4) years.

At that time explaining in media and other print publications, and on the ballot measure description, that passage would put one aid unit back into service. The staffing requirements for an aid unit in SKF&R fire district have been established to be nine (9) full time firefighters.

In February of this year SKF&R applied for a SAFER Grant (read page 4) from FEMA requesting $1,817,649, which, if granted would require SKF&R to use the FEMA SAFER Grant funds to hire nine (9) full time firefighters

So why two revenue streams? Are we getting 18 new firefighters?

 

On July 20th, I sent a letter to Chief Church asking him to clear up some confusion for me.

 Can you clear up some confusion about what these two funding mechanisms are addressing?

Are the nine firefighters the FEMA grant is seeking to fund the same as the nine firefighters that the Excess Levy is seeking to fund?

If the Excess Levy passes, SKF&R has stated they intend to hire nine new firefighters to staff one aid unit. If the FEMA SAFER grant is approved and accepted, SKF&R is required to hire nine new firefighters. Does this mean that, should both funding measures be approved, SKF&R will be hiring eighteen new firefighters?

 (Chief Church has never answered my request for clarification.)

 

You voted for it but did you get it?

On August 7th of this year the voters approved the ballot measure adding $3.5 million per year to the budget for the next four (4) years.

Honoring the request by the fire department to delay there award, on August 10th FEMA announced that SKF&R was awarded the $1.8 million in SAFER grant money. Needless to say, greed kicked in and the district has accepted the grant in full.

 

 So let’s look at the details

A simple reading of the ballot and grant show that in order to satisfy these two recently approved revenue sources, a total of 18 full time firefighters must be hired starting in 2013

 

Thanks for the cash now “trust” us while we morph into the pit of deceit. 

Among this greedy pack of elected officials and crack administrators, one voice stood alone in dissent. Thank you Commissioner Mark Freitas for seeing the truth, speaking up for the taxpayers and voting NO.

The 2013 Budget that SKF&R to approve today (3-1 with Commissioner Freitas voting NO and Mark Thompson nowhere in sight), is in sharp contrast to the ballot measure sold to the voters enjoined by the SAFER Grant secured from FEMA, showing that now that they have your money, they are in fact only hiring a total of eleven (11) firefighters. But they are quickly passing out promotions, raising wages and increasing overtime.

 

So who got screwed?

You don’t mess with the federal government, so it was not FEMA.

But they will spin this to the voter because they know you won’t care.

 

 

 

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277% pay increase in just 5 years.

In a November 2010 article, Chief Church said he cut $650,000 from the budget by several measures, including “Cutting overtime in half” and “Freezing administrative salaries at 2010 levels”

Curious how much of a wage cut the administration took while the firefighters froze theirs?

And how does one employee, with administrative approval, almost TRIPLE his annual take home pay? (This really affects how much he will reap from the taxpayers in retirement benefits)

 

Sticking it to the taxpayers and retiring in kingly style.

 

Here is the scheme. Every Battalion Chief (BC) has a scheduled duty. This puts a designated person in charge.

When a BC works an extra duty shift, it is aptly called a Bonus Shift (BS) and he receives premium pay for the inconvenience. There is a clear protocol for who gets this assignment.

BC Robert Stinnett appears to have been the ‘chosen’ one.

 

 What the public was lead to believe

 

According to Chief Allen Church, everyone in administration and management received the same type of wage freeze as the boots-on-the-ground firefighters, essentially frozen at 2010 levels.

 

Technically, he appears to be right. Base wages were static for the last two yeas. But they took great pride in finding ways of working around the system for their retirement benefits.

 

The Details on retiring RICH from public ‘service’

What is your reaction to one employee turning a measly $84,700 wage in 2007 into a whopping $236,214 in a mere 5 years?

 

You read that right. This “cash-strapped” district, publicly decrying a “crisis”, not only nearly tripled this man’s annual income, just to boost his retirement pay, they approved so much ‘Bonus’ pay for an administrator that they could have put another firefighter on the street!

 

 WHY?

Well it is actually pretty simple and a trend among public employees.You see, your retirement benefit is based on the last three years you worked. SO, if you are making a piddly $85k per year, and want a $120k retirement income, just pad the income for the 3 years before retirement.

Even if the department is screaming crisis. Even if the firefighters take wage freezes. Even if revenues DECLINE. Even if the chief sends out letters saying we need to raise revenues or people will die.

 

Robert Stinnett retired in late 2011. Jumping from $84,718 in 2007, to pad the retirement at your expense, his last three full years have incomes $90,492 in 2008 (modest 6.8% raise), $125,718 in 2009 (39% increase from previous year), $132,721 in 2010 (modest 5.5% increase from previous year) and for the first 8 months of 2011 he ‘earned’ $236,214.(78% increase from previous year) Some of that was probably from other sources but was still declared as wages so unless you can correct me, it counts towards his lucrative retirement check at taxpayers expense.


Retirement from public service is very lucrative when you have friends that will help you pad your nest egg.

 

What is happening right now?

 So, the department came to you and begged for a tax increase for Excess Levy.

And, of course, everyone in the district was frozen at 2010 wages, right?

NOT!!!

 

http://www.federalwaymirror.com/opinion/letters/101588173.html

http://www.federalwaymirror.com/news/108271469.html

http://www.federalwaymirror.com/news/113103634.html

http://www.federalwaymirror.com/opinion/letters/132327188.html

 

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Was this a figment of David Myers imagination?

 

Was he simply lying to gain sympathy for your vote?

Or did the district merely take almost 4 weeks to remove any evidence of this supposed ‘journey’?

Read the remarkable story in the Federal Way Mirror of how one citizen claims to have journeyed into a smoke filled room during fire department training exercises. And he even claimed this was done while surrounded by South King Fire & Rescue personnel.

 

The problem is, according to the response I picked up today from SKF&R, it never happened.

To my question about when did Mr. David Myers participate with members of SKF&R for his adventure, the official response is :

“The District has no records responsive to this request”

None of the other questions on the request about liability, training, costs or reason for citizen participation yielded any records either.

 

So what conclusion would you draw?

 

It seems obvious to me that either Mr. Myers is lying, or the District is lying.

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…”Please don’t’ share the information as “the chief” wants to keep the SAFER Grant application under wraps from the commissioners”…

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A disgraceful and amazing feat of sleight of hand, tight control and intense communication lead up to the news released last Friday.

 

Eggs on knife edge*

Going one better than Joe Steinmetz in 1939, this administration balanced your fire department safety future on their ability to withholding vital information and convince voters to pass an EXCESS LEVY.

 

We know better than you attitude

 

Once again, this department shows their contempt and distrust of an informed public.

Carefully presenting a $3.5 million annual revenue increase measure to the people while deliberately hiding their application to get a ‘gift’ from the feds for another $1.8 million is disgraceful.

I for one, want to know the true cost of our emergency services, and have some assurance that responsible people are making those services available, not have it subjected to some sleight of hand chance accounting method based on the whim of higher government.

This administration is sighing in relief that they were able to pull this off.  Telling the voters that there is a dire need to pass an Excess Levy while secretly advocating for millions in additional funding is flawed at best and deceitful at worst. Coming too late in the campaign blitz, I exposed this charade in an earlier post, resulting in the department having been successful in hiding their duplicity until the grand unveiling last Friday.

Now, they can rejoice in the spinning the case of the card up the sleeve slipping undetected into their hand.

 

Supposedly unscheduled workdays mean thousands in bonus pay

And continue to jack the annual salaries and  life-long retirement pensions of their own to expansive levels. (Details to come.)

 

But we know better.

 

*Joe Steinmetz doing an egg balancing act on the edge of a knife. (Joseph Janney Steinmetz , Photographer, 1939)

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With every new count, it looks like the Excess Levy will pass. That is great.

 

 Any other news?

What bothers me though is the completely hidden $1.8 million that the district sought from FEMA without disclosing it to the voters, until AFTER the levy passed! (sure, there was a short note, AFTER I researched exposed the truth weeks ago)

 

Truth in advertising

While most of us want to know the real cost to us for our services, the district in their infinite wisdom has decided not to tell the federal tax money you paid might come back as 9 new firefighters.

 

I say we deserve to know how much of our hard earned money is actually going to fire protection.

 

When the district did both an Excess Levy AND asked for your tax dollars to be overcharged by the IRS, given to FEMA and then, after several administrations skimmed off their ‘administrative’ fees, sent the remainder back to the district, they misled the public.

 

Instead of actual costs passed on to the citizens

If SKF&R had made their case directly to the tax-payers, we would have saved all that unnecessary overhead and voted to tax ourselves a much lower rate and still getting the same value for our dollar.

Instead, just as I predicted weeks ago and wrote about in-depth last Friday, the district effectively managed to delay release of the FEMA grant news until AFTER the election.

Fair and open administration? I think not. What say you?

 

$3.5 million in local taxes collected every year and $1.8million from federal taxes taken from you, filtered through a government handling office then ‘returned’ to you as a manna from heaven grant.
I wrote earlier about the duplicity of the Excess Levy and the FEMA firefighter grant. And how I asked the chief if the 9 firefighters each is asking funding for are the same.

 

Crickets

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..to screw you better.

 

Crickets from FEMA and SKF&R

$3.5 million in local taxes collected every year and $1.8million from federal taxes taken from you, filtered through a government handling office then ‘returned’ to you as a manna from heaven grant.
I wrote earlier about the duplicity of the Excess Levy and the FEMA firefighter grant. And how I asked the chief if the 9 firefighters each is asking funding for are the same.

In a showing of his true leadership skills and dealing with adverse opinions, Chief Church has taken the child-like preschool stand.  He has decided to totally ignore me and vowed never to talk to me again. No letter or phone call will ever be answered. Kind of like hands over the ears and singing loudly whenever  I speak.

Suffice to say, no answer.

The FEMA grant office was also contacted weeks ago and after a few terse ‘please call our office’ ceased written communication without answering any of the simple and concise questions. Kind of like the Fast & Furious fiasco, or education records of our “most transparent” president.

FEMA grant

Every Friday morning, FEMA updates their grantee list. SKF&R applied early enough that we should have heard by now.

Does anyone else think it ‘convenient’ that FEMA is not sharing their decision until AFTER the election?

With all the great publicity and awards we have seen given out by the department, many making the evening news, there stands a good chance this levy will pass, giving our department millions more each year for paying those generous pensions.

And next week, AFTER the election, when FEMA announces their grant of an additional $1.8million to SKF&R, we will hear Chief Church crowing about how hiring 18 firefighters will save more lives.

Shortly after that, I should have copies of the lavish contracts with several commanders and battalion chiefs that grant them thousands each year in bonus pay and help promote thousands of dollars in extra pension payments.

http://www.fema.gov/award-year-2011

 

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The question was a simple YES/NO.

Does the fire department grant information as submitted satisfy FEMA requirements?

But Jason Auth from FEMA refused to write either in response to my query.

 

Once again, another level of your tax dollars trying to duck the issue.

 

Read the entire email thread here.

From: Auth, Jason (CTR) [mailto:Jason.Auth@associates.fema.dhs.gov]
Sent: Friday, July 27, 2012 5:00 AM
To: Jerry
Subject: RE: FOIA Helpdesk Question [Question: 120706-000046]

 

Please contact the help desk at 866-274-0960

 

From: Jerry
Sent: Thursday, July 26, 2012 4:33 PM
To: Auth, Jason (CTR)
Subject: Re: FOIA Helpdesk Question [Question: 120706-000046]

 

Jason,

Thank you.

Then can you please tell me if the grant reviewers/approval committee deems the information on page 17 of application to be accurate based on the information that I address in my query?

On page 17 in the section titles Element #3 – Financial need, I see that there is a requirement upon the applying agency to disclose the organizations inability to address the need without federal assistance. Including disclosure of “other actions the applicant has taken to meet their staffing needs”

Prior to submitting application in late February 2012, administration and commissioners of SKF&R approved a ballot measure in January of 2012 for an Excess Levy to meet staffing needs but there is no mention of this in the application. The April measure failed but the Excess Levy was again approved for placement on the August ballot.
Like this application, the Excess Levy also states that about $2 million will be used to hire and retain 9 firefighters.

http://your.kingcounty.gov/elections/2012apr-special/results.aspx
http://kingcounty.gov/elections/currentelections/201208/measures.aspx
Jerry

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After I broke the news almost TWO WEEKS AGO about their telling you one thing to raise taxes and also appealing to FEMA for grant money, the fire department issued a mystifying News Flash at 12:06m this morning.

SKF&R is continuing the claim the grant was applied for in January, while the copy they gave me through the Public Records act clearly proves it was filed February 21, 2012 on several pages.

 

Arrogance at it’s best

They stubbornly insist that because they say it, you will believe it. Never mind that they also provide the facts that expose their charade and attempted coverup.

 

Let’s review who knew what and when

WHO: Donna L. Conner is an employee of SKF&R. Ms. Conner is also the district Public Information Officer. Conveniently, Ms. Conner is also the FEMA SAFER Grant applicant signatory.

WHAT: The FEMA SAFER grant was conceived of and applied for earlier this year. Today, the fire department want you to believe this application took place in January, prior to authorizing the Excess Levy.

WHEN: Page 3 of the grant reads: “Originally submitted on 02/21/12 by Donna L. Conner

Also read pages 23, 26 and the bottom of page 28. On each of these pages appears the name Donna L. Conner on the same line as the application date which reads 21-Feb-2012

 

 

Deliberate Omission

No mention of the Excess Levy, passed by resolution on January 26, 2012 by unanimous board of commissioners, when applying to the federal government for the FEMA grant.

Adversely, no mention to the voters (until I exposed the issue of the FEMA grant,) asking for $3.5 million TAX INCREASE to hire the exact same number of firefighters.

 

Perjury?

So then why would Ms Conner , Public Information Officer for SKF&R, issue a News Flash lying about her having filed a grant in January? Is Ms Conners complicit or has someone taken it upon them selves to rush this News Flash to print without her knowledge?

 

An answer from the chief? 

 

A few days ago I sent a letter to Chief Al Church asking if the 9 firefighters paid for with the Excess Levy tax increase were the same 9 firefighters they were pleading grant money for.

I guess this answers my question. YES!!!

“Due to a continued decline in revenue, the staffing maintenance requirement during the award period may preclude SKF&R’s acceptance if a source of additional funding is not obtained.”

 

How much more proof do you need that the department is trying to pull a fast on over an the taxpayers? And jerking the fireman’s hat down on FEMA to boot!

 

While this will surely be sent to the press, read this News Flash both here and on the official SKF&R web page:

South King Fire & Rescue News

Posted on: July 17, 2012

South King Fire & Rescue hoping for SAFER Grant Financial Assistance

South King Fire & Rescue hoping for SAFER Grant Financial Assistance

South King Fire & Rescue (SKF&R) continues to await word on a 2011 SAFER grant request made last January. 238 fire departments around the country have received these 2011 funds to-date after ten rounds of awards have been announced. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) Grant Programs Directorate implements and administers the Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) Grants. SAFER Grants provide financial assistance to help provide funding directly to fire departments in order to help them increase or maintain the number of trained, “front line” firefighters available in their communities through the hiring of new firefighters, or filling of positions that were vacated through attrition. The goal of the SAFER Grants is to assist local fire departments with staffing and deployment capabilities in order to respond to emergencies, assuring communities have adequate protection from fire and fire-related hazards.

SAFER intends to improve or restore local fire departments’ staffing and deployment capabilities so they may more effectively respond to emergencies. With enhanced or restored staffing levels, grantees could see a reduction in their response times and an increase in the number of trained personnel assembled at the incident scene. While not required for a SAFER Grant, it is preferable that the enhanced or restored staffing levels of all SAFER Grantees should improve the safety of firefighters by ensuring all first-arriving apparatus are staffed with a minimum of four qualified personnel (to meet NFPA standards) who are capable of initiating the suppression response. Due to current revenue levels and projections, SKF&R will rarely be able to achieve this preference and responds typically with only three firefighters.

Due to a continued decline in revenue, the staffing maintenance requirement during the award period may preclude SKF&R’s acceptance if a source of additional funding is not obtained. A Maintenance and Operations levy is being considered by the district’s citizens at this time. This measure may allow the district to meet the staffing maintenance requirement and to fund the additional position after the two year SAFER funding period is completed.
If the M&O levy fails, the district will reconsider any award from 2011 SAFER funding and instead look to a 2012 SAFER grant request based upon current conditions.

 

Because things tend to ‘suddenly change’ on the SKF&R web page, here is a screen shot of the SKF&R Website at 12:59am 07/17/12

###

 

Update:

 

Unfortunately, when a comment is posted to my blog at the Federal Way Mirror, Sound Publishing did not see fit to let the blogger know.

So, I do not know about it unless I visit the site like any other reader. This evening was the first time I checked back. Maybe I should go back more frequently to see if anyone left a message.

 

Ms. Conners, from South King Fire & Rescue, addressed my concerns when she left a comment on July 18th.

 

Ms. Conners, thank you for taking the time to share this information:

 

PREVIOUSLY POSTED:(http://blogs.federalwaymirror.com/jerrygalland/skfr-raising-taxes-and-getting-federal-moneywith-strings/439/)Mr. Galland,

Your Blogs of July 5th 2012 “SKF&R – Raising taxes and getting federal.
money/with strings” and “Secrets, omissions and just plain forked.
tongue” cite the following:

“Element #3 requires the district to state its inability to address.
the needs without federal assistance and include all “other actions.
the applicant has taken to meet their staffing needs. A careful
reading does not reveal disclosure of putting the excess levy on the.
ballot. Not one word, even though the commissioners approved it weeks.
earlier. Whether the action was successful or not is of no issue, it.
is an action that requires disclosure. And the district deliberately.
avoided disclosure when they filed the legal document.

Per the SAFER Grant Guidelines published January 2012 “FOR FISCAL YEAR.
2011” by the US Department of Homeland Security -(Application Start.
Date: 01/30/2012 Application Submission Date: 02/24/2012). All
documentation, statistics and actions noted in the application package.
must pertain to what the department accomplished in 2010 and 2011.

Also cited in your Blog:
“Serious consideration needs to be applied here because if the.
district is not able to achieve BOTH funding measures, then they could.
be in default of the FEMA grant provisions, which require that any.
firefighter hired under the grant retain their job for two years AFTER.
the grant money terminates. Why did the district deliberately deceive.
both the public and the federal government? And why should we trust.
them now that the truth is about to come out in the open?”

Those same SAFER Grant guidelines published January 2012, by the US.
Department of Homeland Security specifies the Retention Commitment:
Grantees that are hiring firefighters DO NOT have to commit to.
retaining the SAFER-funded firefighters. Period of performance: For.
Hiring of Firefighters, the period of performance has been reduced to.
2 years.

The SAFER Grant Guidelines “For Fiscal Year 2012” were published by.
Homeland Security in June 2012 – (Application Start Date: 7/16/12.
Application Submission Date: 8/10/12).

RESPECTFULLY:

1. There is no mention or denial of the commissioners passing the.
resolution for the Levy on January 26th, 2012. The SAFER Grant.
application was for the FISCAL YEAR 2011. All statistics and actions cited in.
2011 SAFER grant application pertains to prior years.

2. There is no mention or denial of the application being submitted on.
February 21st 2012. The 2011 SAFER Grant application period opened on.
January 30th 2012 and closed on February 24th, 2012. The application
was submitted prior to the application closing date.

3. The 2011 SAFER Grant guidelines also states that there is no.
commitment required from the fire department to retain the SAFER.
hired firefighters beyond the two year period of performance.

http://www.fema.gov/firegrants/docs/pdf/FY2011_SAFER_ProgramGuidance.pdf

 

 

 

 

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The fire department says they are in a budget crisis. Some of your elected ‘leaders’ say hogwash.

 

Pay me or I won’t show up.

June 6th Federal Way celebrated Flag Day. Commissioner Fossos attended and charged you $104 dollars for the “honor”.

Ever month Commissioners Fossos and Rickert insist getting paid for mileage to attend in-district meetings and meals while at ‘dinner’ meeting every month in Bellevue.

These two so-called leaders are not getting the message. If the firefighters are taking wage cuts, if the district is not hiring, if the administration is getting laid off, why are they still demanding and getting paid for perks?

I have every meeting reimbursement form for all of your commissioners for the past two years. And every month these two commissioner have gotten paid unnecessary mileage. Just because it is legal, they make sure they get theirs. Essentially saying “Screw the taxpayers”.

 

Those who get it

Some in the department get it. Thank you Commissioners Mark Freitas, Mark Thompson and Bill Gates for NOT charging mileage and meals.

Link to the latest scanned proof of why I claim there is arrogance, denial and waste in your fire department.

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