Thursday, May 15, 2008

What's the rush?

Late yesterday afternoon I learned that City Council President Joe Camara has called for a special meeting of the Fall River City Council for this Friday at 1PM.

The purpose of this special meeting is for the council to vote to change the Fire Chief from a civil service position to a contract position that would be appointed by the Mayor and ratified by the City Council.

The Council was certainly poised to adopt this during Tuesday's meeting but a procedural objection by Councilor Steve Camara halted that effort. Without a doubt Steve Camara's objection is a delay tactic but it's a delay tactic allowed under council rules. A councilor is allowed such an objection to allot for time to study the issue. Now, Councilor Steve was probably hoping that a delay to the next council meeting would allow him some time to convince some of his fellow councilors to his way of thinking. He probably was also hoping that 2 weeks would be enough time for the momentum of public opinion to work its magic.

Now Council President Camara is rushing this 'special meeting' because 2 weeks is just too darn long! What's the rush Joe?

This whole topic failed to really catch my attention but the more I've heard, the more I've read the more I'm convinced that this is not a decision to rush. Changing the Fire Chief to a contract position either makes this position more accountable or more political. If Steve Camara's actions was to bide for more time well then Joe Camara's actions seem to fear the result of that. A special meeting seems hasty in light of the next regular meeting being just two weeks away. More than that though a special meeting denies the public additional time for comment. President Camara's tactic here seems to be nothing more than an effort to railroad the wishes of the Mayor through. It borders on cowardice.

This decision could have far reaching effects (as hinted upon in Fall River Community's excellent post on the subject!) and deserves serious consideration, discussion and debate. Rushing this vote accomplishes none of that.

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

why the rush? Is it possible that the municipal unions are vying for contracts, meaning that no other union wants to chime in at this point. If we were to go, say into june or july, after initial contract stipulations are made, this may turn into a bigger fight on the councilors hands. Isn't it funny the Police are eerily quiet on the subject? They are the only relevant union, who really know that the majority council opinion doesn't hold water. kudos to leo, steve and ray, for haveing the intestinal fortitude to go against the grain and not be bullied!!
Pay attention to the man behind the curtain! We're not in Kansas anymore!!

General said...

2 things here.

1. Why the rush: Mayor Correia knows very well that in 2 weeks elected officials can be pressured to change their vote. He has seen it in Boston many times over the years. He himself has done it. With a two week span councilors such as Kozak could receive 100's of calls to change his mind. So Correia pulled his puppet strings and Camara danced.

2. As far as the chief's position, it comes down to this.

Any mayor would want all top positions directly under his or her thumb. This is not about hiring the best and brightest, this is about control. For example:

Let us say it is budget time, and the fire chief feels that the dept needs a certain type of apparatus. The mayor says NO, I will not buy it , I do not believe we need it.

An independent Chief could then go to the councilors and say here is my opinion. Now the mayor, without expertise, will have to convince the council that the city does not need it while the expert says they do need it.

Which chief would come out with the truth, the independent chief or one under the mayor's thumb?

Another example:

The mayor is upset with one of the fire fighters. This fire fighter has helped the mayor's opponent in an election. He goes to the fire chief and tells him to put pressure on the fire fighter.

Which chief is more likely to follow that type of order????

Lefty said...

General,

Believe me I understand why this is being done. And I think you've described it well.

My question was more of an idealistic one. If this idea has real merit, if having the Fire Chief under a contract agreement is really better, let's discuss and debate it. Let the idea win on its own merits.

I know, too idealistic but I object to having this shoved down our throats more than the actual proposal.

Anonymous said...

Lefty,

I agree with you the first isue is
the way this came about and second the issue. The Fire Chief is one of many fights that will be going on with this administration.

Anonymous said...

I am extremely unhappy with our City Council regarding this issue. Aren't they elected to serve the citizens of Fall River (this is who elects them, correct?)Well, the greater good is in favor of leaving the fire chief's position under civil service but look at how they voted (they went along with what the mayor wants). This is a prime example of politics and the way the fire chief will have to act/react if he is under the mayor's control.
I will never vote for these members who voted for the chief to be under contract.
Joe Camara should be ashamed of the way he treated the fire fighters at today's meeting, he needs to learn how to respect others. Mike Lund needs to get his facts straight before speaking and he also needs to get his ego under control.

General said...

Why should Joe Camara change? He is one of the top vote getters each time he runs. I do not like what they did. I know why they did it and it has nothing to do with bettering the city.

You must remember, the mayor controls votes and he will protect his puppets.

Sure, you and I - and maybe another 1,000 voters do not like what took place, but for the majority, they are in the own little world.

You have the developers, who will donate big, because they get their precious variances.

You have boot lickers who will get jobs.

You have the mob who will get their hot dogs.

So once again I say, why should Joe, Lund or any of them change their ways?

Anonymous said...

DEMOCRATIC PROCESS,

NOW WE WILL MOVE ON TO THE NEXT VICTIM, WHO WILL IT BE??

THE BUDGET ?
ANYONE THAT HAS AN OPINION ?
AND THE LIST GOES ON...........

Anonymous said...

TO MIKE COOGAN, AND THE MINORITY CITY COUNCILYOU NEED TO LOOK INTO THE LAWS AND GET THE PENS OUT TO THE STATE REP'S. They are automatically assuming that it will be ok to approve this - the need to hear from the citizens of Fall River that democracy is not being served here. http://www.mass.gov/legis/laws/mgl/43-19.htm PART I. ADMINISTRATION OF THE GOVERNMENT TITLE VII. CITIES, TOWNS AND DISTRICTS CHAPTER 43. CITY CHARTERS GENERAL PROVISIONS Chapter 43: Section 19. Duties of mayor or city manager; attendance at council meetings; disclosure of information Section 19. The city council at any time may request from the mayor, or, under Plan D or E, from the city manager, specific information on any municipal matter within its jurisdiction, and may request him to be present to answer written questions relating thereto at a meeting to be held not earlier than one week from the date of the receipt by the mayor, or, under Plan D or E, by the city manager, of said questions. The mayor, or, under Plan D or E, the city manager, shall personally, or through the head of a department or a member of a board, attend such meeting and publicly answer all such questions. The person so attending shall not be obliged to answer questions relating to any other matter. The mayor, or, under Plan D or E, the city manager, may attend and address the city council in person or through the head of a department, or a member of a board, upon any subject.