Saturday, June 4, 2016

Names Attached to the Headlines

   Real people sometimes get in the middle of epic battles and for the eight fire captains being demoted to firefighter, there surely must be a feeling of anger, resentment and questioning why they ended up at the tip of the spear in contract talks so far going nowhere.
    The union made the names available after the Mayor said they shouldn't be as it's a "personnel matter".  No it isn't. This was a political and budgetary decision and this year both sides have not hesitated to make their positions public.
     Council adopted the demotions of these eight men but rejected other organizational changes proposed by the CM.
     City Hall is trying to break the union's manning clause which drives the cost of the department and the demotions are surely part of the bargaining strategy as the savings alone don't justify what is being spent on the showdown, not to mention morale issues.
http://www.watertowndailytimes.com/news03/demotions-impact-watertown-fire-captains-families-lives-20160604

33 comments:

Anonymous said...

This union has shown no bargaining understanding nor compassion for the taxpayers of the city of Watertown. I suspect no agreement will be reached anytime soon.. They are about a understanding or caring as our greedy CO union in the state.

Anonymous said...

Boo hoo. People lose jobs every day. People get fired every day. People lose money investing every day. Business people go out of business very day. These folks are still making a tremendous amount of money. Only now, serving in the position that is warranted, instead of the one that the union extorted the city into creating.

Its nice that these "fathers" are throwing the burden on their kids. I don't recall my daddy crying to me when I was seven, about anything, much less about getting to keep a high paying cushy job instead of a higher paying more cushy job.

But I will give the befit of the doubt to them, and assume this is just a perrykos/union-thug attempt to paint a picture of the kids that is pure fiction. Please tell us you were just hamming for the camera and you didn't really discuss your employment situation with the kids?

BTW...what is the BS about it saving $100k? Usually whenever perrykos types quote an Obama budget cut, they love to say how much it will save over ten years. But suddenly their math stops after 365 days? this will save at least a million over ten years. but the best part is it puts the existing money in a useful position instead of an unneeded position.

Anonymous said...

The act of changing someone's employment status is a personnel matter rightly pointed out by the Mayor.

The decision to make a sweeping act is a result of the budget and contract talks but the specific people are a personnel matter.

You can consider it otherwise Jeff but you are wrong.

Anonymous said...


Suck it up Firemen. Join the real world for a change.

What a bunch of cry babies. Makes the rest of us feel bad for all of you still making over $25.00 an hour and benefits.

Don't like it , leave and get another job. Lots of luck with that.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Butler is correct and your not. You sit here in the cheap seats and take your shots. These people didn't ask to be demoted and now release the names?? I was a supporter of yours, no longer. I want the list of every City employee who received a raise or a demotion to be listed in the Times over the past 10 years. What is fair is fair. This has nothing to do with reigning in costs of which I support. To drag these guys out like this is just wrong, and, you have supported it. When will it end for you? And all of these people write about their "opinion" in the comment section, which is even worse. Then, you worry about morale?? Cuts were made, move on. Leave these people alone. I forgot, what was it that they did to be hammered on like this. Time to change the leadership in this City.

Anonymous said...

Ha ! As of this moment, there are 14 comments and only two are pro-let-the-FD-screw-the-taxpayer. I told you the public supported this common sense restructuring. Of course common sense ain't too common when you live on the golf course.

Anonymous said...

743 I think it was the union who put forth the names and five of the eight went to the Times and talked with them.
Clearly it's to their advantage in the PR war to personalize it.
And the list of who holds what rank is certainly public. The change in rank was the result of budget action and not a disciplinary matter.

Anonymous said...

They complain that the city went public. You went to your 7 year old kid. Are you kidding me?

Anonymous said...


Not hearing about much sympathy for those OVER-PAID Fireman.

Nobody to cry to - what now ?

Everything comes to an end and the end of the GRAVY TRAIN is here for those FIREMAN. Suck it up.

Anonymous said...

9:50, what is clear to you, the local liberal media, and a few union leader holdouts, is foggy in the minds of the other 99% of the voters. Clearly, in the eyes of the 99% majority, they would be better off to remain silent and thought the fool, then to speak up and remove the plausible deniability.

Anonymous said...

This issue is far from over...and the public feud is embarrassing for everyone involved. This is a result of the PREVIOUS admin. Mr. Butler can't win. But he is 100% correct. Names shouldn't be released. I applaud the city for getting costs under control but not the matter in which it happened.

Anonymous said...

8:26, could you be anymore confusing? Can't figure out if you're slamming the union or mayor/council. The union provided the names and 5 captains held interview with the Times.

Why would anyone bring a child into their work problems? That didn't get a sympathy vote, just readers collectively scratching their heads wondering why.

Many have taken pay cuts/lost benefits over the last few years. Remember Mercy staff? They lost their vacations, sick time, jobs. Ft. Drum civilians were furloughed and had a number of forced non pay days over the budget. Temp employees lost their jobs. They have a union too, but realism is realism. Talk to Climax workers, they'd love to have your situation. Paper mills tumbled one after the other and you had workers starting over in their 50's.

Congratulations to council for taking a stand and sticking to it.

Anonymous said...

Glad I retired from the COW, it only going to get worse with this council.

Anonymous said...


The TAIL doe not wag the DOG.

Never has and never will in negotiations.

End of story.

Anonymous said...

Now let's switch them all to HSA's like Obamacare did to everyone in the private sector.

Danny M. Francis (Eyepublius) said...

How about this line of thought: Maybe the city's bargaining "team" vis-à-vis the Fire Department's bargaining "team" are just plain lousy negotiators? I mean, everyone with an opinion on this talks about the harshness of the FD, so what about the novices in the City and their tactics? Oops ...

And, demoting for no good cause, just to save money, is just flat out wrong. But, okay, then how about we demote everyone in city government by a pay couple of pay grades? I bet we'd save a bundle.

Run that past Ms. Addison - what cat got your tongue...!!!

Anonymous said...

I'm sure they did that PR interview on their own time even though they used the taxpayers facility to host it.

Anonymous said...

I was thinking the same thing Dan Francis...exactly. 11:13, it's not that hard to follow. Be objective for a moment. Costs have to contained, the way it happened was amateurish and now we have a divided community in the news again. See, arena, parks and recs, dog park, monument, zoo...and on and on and on.

Anonymous said...

Danny, maybe you are just wrong like you are about everything else.
This isn't negotiations, this is extortion of the tax payers, by the union.

But fortunately, the brilliant city leaders have hired a chess master to outsmart the tic tac toe fire department. Did you notice that the more the union fights in public the more they lose? Of course you didn't, that's only obvious to people without blinders on.

Anonymous said...

I have lived in this city for 64 years and never have I been as embarrassed by the city leadership as I am now, it is just plain disgusting. I fully support the firemen and every other city worker as do just about every neighbor and friend that live here. I would bet more than half of you people putting down our workforce do not even reside in the city or pay taxes here. I think the council and manager is way out of touch with what the taxpayers want as witnessed by the arena mess and now this.

Anonymous said...

9:50 I was pointing out that the current Mayor is correct the names should not have been released. The fact the union decided to release them in their business and it comes with a motive. The act is a business type decision but the personnel involved are a personnel matter.

They respond to medical calls when the city contracts that service, if the current level of service is not appropriately provided then discuss it with Guilfoyle, but quit sending firefighters out to do medical. Further peer review supports the city and the union is losing the battle.

Anonymous said...

I haven't lived here quite as long 3:35, but I and my neighbors applaud the city's leadership on this. It is plain inspiring, frankly. The firemen want a blank check with no controls. How can that possibly stand? And another thing for you and any other complainers about the arena. I'm sick of hearing the arena and any other facility or resource in this city being used as ammunition to support the FD. Are we supposed to sacrifice all quality of life for the firemen? No! It's just a ridiculous and tiresome argument.

Anonymous said...

How does demoting eight captains save money when the city government turns around and gives raises to them selves and establish new postions in the city.Then they turn around and override the tax cap. How are they saving money for the tax payers. If they want to save money everybody should take a pay cut. At least the tax payers get a service from the fire department and what do they get from a 10 million dollar ice area. Never have seen a place that the employer hates the employees that work for them.

Anonymous said...


No matter which side you are on, these tactics are just plain wrong and unethical. These are real people not just names on a piece of paper. They have families, mortgages and financial obligations and will be hurt like anyone else who has to take a pay cut. For what? Just to make a point? Absolutely shameful and unethical. Is it too much to ask for leaders to follow the law? They just do whatever they want and think that we are all too dumb to see what is really going on. Cut our services and raise our taxes all in an effort to support their PET projects and buddies.

When all of this reached the view of a judge the City will be slammed hard for there tactics. Who will end up paying for this in the end, Us that who. Can't wait to get some new leadership in this city.

Anonymous said...

Danny, I see your point but should the fire department have those 8 captains in the first place. Captains in the Marine Corps are responsible for individual companies, and act as Company Commander for 62 to 190 Marines. Captains are generally promoted from Lieutenants. They are in charge of the tactical and everyday operations of their company, and are often assisted by junior commissioned and non-commissioned officers.In the Watertown Fire Department a Captain is in Charge of 3 men and apparently when they lose the title they lose the function to operate a vehicle. That is just insane. Especially when I pay for it.

Anonymous said...

Those eight captains are in command of the crew of there specified truck. Each truck wether it is a rescue, engine or ladder truck has a specific job while at a scene the captain's job is to make sure his crew is doing there specific job and he is the communication between what's happening inside the scene and the battalion chief outside of the fire scene. His job is to tell the battalion chief what's happening inside and potential hazards that may be arising. This is where safety comes in. You can not have three people of the same rank this creates what they call free lancing which has killed many. There is a reason for having an officer in charge of each piece of equipment. Everybody knows somebody wants to take charge wether they are trained in that job or not. These captains that have been demoted have worked hard to get these promotions through a lot of time, testing, and training they have done with FDNY. How would it feel if you were in the same shoes as those eight. How would it feel if you were say a teacher who work your as off to get your teaching degree and have been teaching for say 15 years to have somebody say we are taking your degree back and you will never have it back. How do you think it feels to work so hard for something to have it ripped away. Do you think these eight would have tried to better them selves if they new they were going to have it taken away. I know I wouldn't how about you. The city has an agenda and does not want the taxpayers to know.. I do believe they want to close outside stations and get rid of apparatus and man power which will result in less service. also how do you compare the fire department and the police department, the cost of fire trucks, specialized equipment and training far exceed that of the police department. So think about what city council is trying to achieve and wonder what the outcome is going to be.

Tom Walterman said...

I find some of these comments sickening and just shows the vile hatred some people have for those people that have studied, worked hard and made themselves a career, it is called jealousy.
I am not from this area but have lived in this city for the past 20 years and retired here from the US Army. I have never seen a city that is so against the people it hired to protect it. Much like the Army, these people are your insurance policy to protect the civilians that live here. By cutting public safety it just shows the council, mayor and manager could care less about the citizens in this community.
Did any of you morons stop and think that every building lost to fire is one that will not be rebuilt and will be off the tax rolls? Yes that is more taxes for the rest of us to pay. Lose one industry and it will make the small savings look like pennies.
I do not understand how, for the past 20 years the city has maintained services and amassed a huge fund balance but under this new leadership they cant afford it? Sounds like the FD is not the problem, poor management at city hall is the problem. Sales taxes are up, hydro revenue is up, grants are more numerous than ever but poor decisions are costing us the money, not our essential services.
I can not even imagine the firemen going to work every day with the constant barrage of hatred from the very people that are supposed to be their leaders. Sounds like a hostile work environment to me and I believe there are laws against that. When this goes to court us taxpayers will pay far more than these captains salary in sanctions imposed by the courts for the unethical actions of the council.
How much more in legal fees will this cost us? Enough is enough. Those of us that actually do live in the city love our police and firemen and value their service and do not want cuts but much like the arena and other projects council is not listening.
Mr. Graham, while I honestly think some of this started during your watch and you are behind some of it and continue to fan the flames, at least you were upfront and honest and knew that the only way to make any change was to compromise. That is what negotiations are, give and take. The underhanded, unethical actions that are taking place by our current poor excuse for a Mayor and the council are just plain disgusting and make me embarrassed to say I am a resident of Watertown

Anonymous said...

No Mr. Walterman, you are incorrect. Councils and managers past did not have the gonads to take on this monster. The current mayor and council and CM do. Enough is enough indeed. Enough of the blank check to the FD and time for city control and FD accountability to the city leadership.

Anonymous said...

This action will cause an unwanted result sooner than some think. Union and fire safety standards require a captain per truck. Common sense tells us that losing eight captains surely must impact the ability of the fire dept. to provide adequate service and an environment of safety for the firefighters. Hopefully the COW is thinking with their heads and not just for votes.

Anonymous said...


Less Captains = Less Apparatus = Less Resources = Increased Risk. DUH!!!!!!

Tom Walterman said...

9:28

Your opinion is I am incorrect, and that is only your opinion. Like I said, it sounds a lot like jealousy as you state no facts to support your position and if you want to speak about gonads, I see you didn't have enough to sign your name to your statement.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Waterman, so many people would agree that you are incorrect. You see this issue through the eyes of one whose entire career was in the military. For your dedication and service we are all thankful but the military way and the real world way are at different ends of the spectrum. The costs associated with the fire dept need to be reeled in and the burden of the cost of the operating it placed on the homeowner need to be lessened. The great majority of us appreciate the fire dept but this battle is about balancing what we need with the costs associated with that service. Right now it is completely out of whack.
In closing I do have one question for you sir. Since you are retired military, do you enjoy some healthcare benefits and maybe some tax breaks?
Many of us do not have that going for us and you know... in order to give someone a break, another person has to make up that slack. So maybe instead of signing your name when you complain about people who are taxed to the breaking point you could identify yourself up front by stating the amount of freebies you enjoy.

Anonymous said...

Is it really the city council's job to demote captains and decide who gets paycuts? I would have thought this was the City Managers job. Pay raises, yes ,but demotions are usually job performance related not political leverage for city councilmen. Very questionable practice. If I were one of those eight captains, you can bet I would be taking action to challenge this move.

If it is decided the dept. can do without eight positions, it's not right to demote those properly and deservedly promoted to the captain level.