Archive for March 16th, 2017

Chicago Fire Department news

Excerpts from the

Jim Tracy, a veteran business agent, beat out former Chicago Firefighters Union Local 2 President Dan Fabrizio for the open seat vacated by the retirement of three-term union president Tom Ryan. Both candidates were union insiders and members of the executive board. Jim Tracy was the 4th District business agent. Fabrizio was in charge of political action.

His campaign poster highlights nine promises that include: providing immediate relief for 300 retired members without Medicare or other health insurance; putting five more advanced life support ambulances in service; restoring the paramedic clothing allowance so they can buy a bulletproof vest; and establishing a paramedicine division of the Fire Prevention Bureau.

He also promised to: stop runaway legal bills suddenly an extra $300,000-a-year; allow retired members ages 60 to 63 to rescind their furloughs for their buyout; lower the threshold to 25 years of service to earn a so-called Grandpa Day, awarded as an extra furlough day to the most senior members (it is now 26 or 27 years); activate a post-retirement medical savings plan; get firefighters and paramedics out of the Chicago Healthy Lives Program.

The poster also brands as inexcusable, ill-advised or disappointing decisions made by the Ryan regime or under the retiring president’s watch. They include: prosecuting seven union members; not bringing a 16 percent raise to the board, and not going to arbitration to get our pension millions of dollars owed.

The changing of the guard at Local 2 comes at a time when the union is gearing up to negotiate another contract.

Five years ago, Emanuel took aim at treasured union perks that included the clothing allowance; holiday and duty-availability pay; pay grades; premium pay; non-duty lay-up coverage; a physical fitness incentive and a 7 percent premium paid to cross-trained firefighter-paramedics.

The mayor subsequently backed away from all of those concession demands in a pre-election contract that won him the surprise endorsement of Local 2, a union that had endorsed mayoral challenger Gery Chico over Emanuel in 2011.

The contract that expires June 30 called for Chicago firefighters, paramedics and emergency medical technicians to get an 11 percent pay raise over five years, but ended free health care for those who retire between the ages of 55 and 65.

Ryan returned the favor by signing on to a deal that gave Chicago 15 more years to ramp up to a 90 percent funding level for police and fire pensions. Gov. Bruce Rauner vetoed that bill. But three Republican crossover votes helped Emanuel overturn the governor’s veto.

Now, Emanuel is under pressure to get tough with the union again.

Last year, Inspector General Joe Ferguson concluded that Chicago taxpayers were shelling out $5 million a year to provide a uniform allowance to firefighters that’s more like an automatic cash bonus because it’s completely unmoored from any determination of actual need or use.

Ald. Nick Sposato (38th), a former Chicago firefighter, noted that the minimum-manning requirement that triggered the 1980 firefighters strike will not expire until 2019. All other aspects of the union contract will be negotiated this year.


thanks Dan

Tags: , , ,

Glenview Fire Department news

Excerpts from the

A Glenview firefighter is challenging members of the majority incumbent Unite Glenview Slate for a seat on the village board in the April 4 election.

Vincent Spalo has lived in the village for six years, has worked as a Glenview firefighter for the last 10 years, and sits on the executive board for the Glenview Firefighters Association Union Local 4186. He has three children aged 4, 6, and 8-years-old.

Spalo faces members of the Unite Glenview Slate of incumbent village trustees Debby Karton and John Hinkamp along with newcomer Karim Khoja. Also on the Unite slate is Village President Jim Patterson who is running unopposed for the village’s top elected post.

Although state conflict of interest laws prohibit municipal employees from running for boards which oversee those positions, a specific exemption exists for firefighters.

Illinois compiled statutes, 50 ILCS 135/12, the Local Governmental Employees Political Rights Act, allows firefighters to run for and hold office as a village trustee or city alderman in the municipality they serve, so long as political campaign activities do not take place while the candidate is on duty or in uniform.

A photo on a Spalo campaign mailer shows Spalo in a Glenview firehouse, in front of a fire engine, crouched down behind one of his young children. That child is wearing oversized protective firefighter pants. Spalo said the photo was taken several years ago when he was visiting a station while off duty with his son.

If elected, Spalo said he would remain a firefighter, recuse himself from any village board discussion on fire department related issues and would step down from his executive board position with the firefighters’ union.

Spalo said watching top Glenview managers and directors being awarded $1 million bonuses over the last four years, while reducing overall service levels, was a key factor motivating him to run for office.

He said the village’s practice of outsourcing services has also become excessive and should be reduced. He said fewer police and firefighters are on the street now than in past years.

One service which saw reductions several years ago was when village officials reduced overnight ambulances from three to two — something firefighters union officials took exception to.

Former Village Manager Todd Hileman was one of the highest paid village managers in Illinois before he left the village to take a position as Denton, TX city manager. Spalo said he is concerned village trustees could overcompensate whoever is hired to replace Hileman.

A post on Spalo’s candidate Facebook page points out Hileman made more than Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel along with several other big city mayors.

He is also concerned about the recent purchase a long vacant former hardware store property on Glenview Road just east of Harlem Avenue. He said the village should not be involved in the real estate business.

On affordable housing, he wants to ensure the village is meeting its Cook County-mandated 10% levels, but said he was unsure whether the village should mandate individual residential developments to set aside minimum numbers of affordable units.

Tags: , , ,

MABAS 7 Swap Meet

Tags: ,

Pingree Grove Fire Protection District news

Excerpts from the

The Pingree Grove and Countryside Fire Protection District will have a referendum on the ballot April 4 asking voters permission to borrow $8.5 million to build two new fire stations.

The goal is to be better positioned geographically to reduce response times for an increasing population, Fire Chief Mitch Crocetti said.

The district has three fire stations, one of which — Station 4 on Plank Road — would be closed and sold if the two new ones are built.

The district would repay the bonds with $2 million out of its general fund and $6.5 million with a 20-year property tax increase that would amount to about $117 per year for a house valued at $300,000.

The 50-square-mile district serves about 15,000 residents in Pingree Grove, the northern end of Campton Hills, and unincorporated areas.

Pingree Grove officials said it has added about 300 new housing units per year the last several years.

The two new fire stations would be built in the vicinity of Plato and Rippburger roads, and on Highland Avenue just east of Coombs Road. The locations were picked based on the largest population centers within the fire district boundaries, which originally were set in 1957 and later extended east.

“For us to get to the far southwest part of our distinct, south of Burlington Road toward McDonald Road, it takes about 11 or 12 minutes on a good day, without snow or other conditions,” he said. “(With the new stations), we are shooting for an average response time of six minutes. That’s the standard for EMS (emergency medical services).”

This would be the first bond issue for the district, which employs 54 firefighters who responded to 1,090 calls last year. Its annual budget is about $3 million per year; the district saved up for nine years and paid cash to build the fire station that opened in 2015.

Its newest fire station was built in 2015, replacing Station 1 that was sold for about $160,000 to Anchor Spa & Pool Inc..

If voters approve the April 4 referendum question, the new property tax would show up on tax bills in June 2018.

Crocetti said the district’s assessed property value has grown steadily the last three or four years. If that continues, the added property tax might be lower than $117.

Tags: ,