Firefighters Tell Their Own Tale of IGA Boycott

Fire-Davis-Stock

Last month, the Vanguard reported on the “boycott” of Westlake Market by the Davis Firefighters.  It remains to be seen what will happen as the result of those revelations, but one thing of interest is the response from perhaps city employees, perhaps the firefighters, on an otherwise obscure website.

The website argues that the Vanguard gets it wrong, and “More often than not, the Vanguard only confers with the side it agrees with. So Vanguard readers often are not getting the whole story, they’re only getting the Vanguard’s side.”

It is an interesting charge, because in the course of writing the story on the boycott, the Vanguard spoke with both the city’s attorney and the fire chief.  As well as the Mayor and representatives from the Westlake Market.  The other site spoke only with Bobby Weist, most likely, though they never attribute the comments to any one person.

The genesis of the animosity appears to be the mailer we sent out in early 2010 that exposed the Davis firefighters for their undue influence in the Davis municipal government.

They write: “This, in addition to numerous Vanguard articles attacking the Davis Firefighters, prompted them to approach the manager of the Westlake IGA to voice their concerns regarding the fact that it was paying for advertisement on the Vanguard website.”

Now, this is not how it went according to the management of the store.  The contact was made in the other direction, with the management reaching out to the firefighters to try to understand why they had stopped coming to the store.

Moreover, one might wonder why it is the store’s responsibility as to what the Vanguard is reporting.  That would be like the firefighters being angry at a Rich Rifkin column and an editorial by the Enterprise, then boycotting a grocery store that advertises there.

While we have conflicting reports as to what happened, it is fairly easy to see that the Westlake Market would have very little reason not to tell the truth.  I tend to believe their account, whereas the firefighters’ accounts look like little more than a belated “CYA” effort to defuse a story that looks pretty damaging to them.

The account continues: “The manager basically told them ‘Sorry, our advertising is handled by an outside company’ and that was that, as if it absolved them of any responsibility.”

If the manager told them that, it would be weird, because when the Vanguard originally got the six-month advertising from Westlake IGA, we went directly through owner Harley Delano and Eric Nelson.  So again, either the firefighters are lying about what happened, or the store manager lied to them about the process.  You can decide for yourself which is more credible.

“The union informed the manager that if that was the end of it, they were no longer going to shop there. The union then spoke with the owner, and again they got no resolution to their concerns.”

This is just not consistent with what representatives from the store told us.  The Vanguard was told that the store reached out to the firefighters.  Ironically enough by this point, the store was not advertising with the Vanguard.

Now comes the curious part: “If it had been left alone for a while perhaps the two sides could have continued to talk it over and eventually worked things out. Instead, my sources tell me the city manager, the council, and the city attorney were all pulled into the matter at the instigation of the owner.”

Eric Nelson made it very clear to me that the talks were going nowhere, I don’t see where there is any evidence things could have worked out.  Certainly, Eric Nelson did not see it that way and he thought it was completely inappropriate for the fire department to drive city equipment across town when they could walk across the street to eat.

Eric Nelson emailed Joe Krovoza and Rochelle Swanson.

As the Mayor explained to the Vanguard, “Rochelle Swanson and I received a third-party complaint raising concerns about possible inappropriate activity by on-duty fire fighters.”

“Based on the citizen concern, I forwarded the e-mail to our interim city manager and city attorney for review.  I believe that was exactly the responsible course given the information presented,” he said.  “I have never heard from the owner, nor met him/her.”

The Vanguard learned about the boycott from a Public Records Act request it was doing on the possibility of the Dollar Store coming to West Davis.

The website article adds: “So, union members agreed that they were in fact no longer going to patronize the Westlake IGA. There was no official ‘boycott.’ “

Really?  The version of the story we heard from the management of the store is that the union president ordered them not to shop at Westlake IGA.

They continue: “A boycott would’ve involved ordering union members not to shop there, campaigning for others to stop shopping there as well, and picketing the store.”

That’s an expansive definition of a boycott.  The first condition is the only one necessary, and that is what occurred.  There has been no campaigning or picketing that we are aware of.

“One of the common misconceptions is that the food purchased by the firefighters for the firehouse comes from city money when in fact it is their own personal funds.”

We actually reported this, citing the fire chief.  But that misses the point that they are on the city clock and using city equipment to purchase their food.  The Vanguard understands that is the practice, but the validity could seem questionable.

“So is the Vanguard suggesting that public employees be held to some standard regarding where they can spend their money that other people are not? Or is he suggesting that when they are on the clock the city has the right to dictate to its employees where they can spend their own money?”

Neither point, actually.  The firefighters have a complete right to shop where they want, until and unless they violate the law by advocating an illegal third party boycott, targeting one business in an attempt to harm another.  That violates labor law and is against both state and federal law.

“If this were UCD students refusing to shop at WalMart the Vanguard would probably be singing their praises and applauding their efforts.”

Whether or not that is true, they miss the point that a boycott of WalMart by UCD students is not a third-party boycott by a public employees union, and is not occurring while being paid for by the city.

One thing rings true here and that is, despite the efforts to couch this in terms of the right to spend their money where they choose, their language belies their true motive.  It is a concerted effort by the firefighters, at the instigation of their union president, to attempt to leverage and convince Westlake Market not to advertise with the Vanguard, in retaliation for the Vanguard writing articles that they did not like.

That is against the law, and it is an unlawful interference with the Vanguard’s right to do business and first amendment right to free speech.

The other interesting thing is that this was apparently a divided effort at best, with some of the firefighters actually lamenting that they had been instructed not to go to Westlake.

There is a colloquial expression that especially rings true here – when you find yourself in a hole, quit digging.  The hole is getting larger here, and despite the efforts to sanitize their actions, they have actually implicated themselves even more by making their motivation crystal clear.

—David M. Greenwald reporting

About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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46 Comments

  1. rusty49

    I moved to Davis 10 years ago and one of the first things that struck me as odd was having a fireman approach me in front of my house and handing me campaign literature advocating for certain candidates. That never happened where I moved from. Little did I know at that time what their motives were.

  2. Phil Coleman

    This story was titled as a “Tale” and it was the most credible part of the entire article. All it needed was the intro, “Once upon a time . . .”

    Read this convoluted and confusing story a couple of times, you have to anyway. Then note the qualifiers, “perhaps” these were fire fighters speaking and proceeding to berate the fire fighter response as stone-cold fact. The best part of this fable was the “most likely” attribution of remarks assigned to Bobby Weist.

    Toss in the usual “sources” which are always unimpeachable and we have a tale for the ages. Nothing is even remotely proven except the continued reinforcement of a deep-seated prejudice against the Davis fire fighters. Maybe they deserve being taken behind the wood shed, but at least make an attempt to hear their side instead of making things up for them.

    Here’s a thought, why not contact Bobby and ask him for validation or denial? He is an extremely talkative guy, so go ahead and approach the key figure in the entire story. Then the reader can judge whether this is a story or a fable.

  3. David M. Greenwald

    Phil:

    “Here’s a thought, why not contact Bobby and ask him for validation or denial? “

    Because he doesn’t talk to me.

    As for the rest, it was well laid out and documented in the original article with quotations.

  4. Ryan Kelly

    They can shop where they like, but I find it typical for the Firefighters Union to act in such a petty manner by punishing a local grocery store by where it advertises. The Firefighters Union created their own PR problem with its political practices in the City of Davis. This was known about and identified as a problem well before the Vanguard started reporting it. And so it continues. If the Firefighters Union wants to improve their image, then they need to stop pulling these kinds of stunts. Bobby is a nice guy generally, but he needs to stop working for the union so much and get back to doing the job we hired him to do.

  5. E Roberts Musser

    [quote]One thing rings true here and that is, despite the efforts to couch this in terms of the right to spend their money where they choose, their language belies their true motive. It is a concerted effort by the firefighters, at the instigation of their union president, to attempt to leverage and convince Westlake Market not to advertise with the Vanguard, in retaliation for the Vanguard writing articles that they did not like.

    That is against the law, and it is an unlawful interference with the Vanguard’s right to do business and first amendment right to free speech.

    The other interesting thing is that this was apparently a divided effort at best, with some of the firefighters actually lamenting that they had been instructed not to go to Westlake.[/quote]

    Do not the fire fighters have the right to spend their money where they choose? Yes. Does the IGA market have the right to tell fire fighters they must shop at IGA because it is the closest to the West Davis Fire Station? No. So I am not seeing the “unlawful interference with the Vanguard’s right to do business and first amendment right to free speech”. From a legal perspective, I’m not seeing anything overtly “unlawful”.

    But I am troubled by an attempt of the union to “convince” its workers to not shop at a particular store, as it is coercive conduct in nature. But I consider that more of an internal matter within the Fire Dept. and something the Grand Jury cited as problematic – the internal coercive atmosphere that goes on within the Fire Dept.

  6. roger bockrath

    So regardless of weather or not firefighters violate State and Federal law by attempting to damage Westlake and the Vanguard, in an attempt to squelch David’s continuing expose them, are they or are they not driving City owned five mile per gallon fire trucks across town to on the city’s time and fuel in order to avoid shopping at Westlake?

    I know of no other employer who allows their employees to shop on company time, using company vehicles for their own grocerys.

  7. JustSaying

    1. Firefighter website,
    2. Laws that enforce First Amendment prohibitions against firefighters trying to bug the Vanguard editor and that outline how they’re illegally interfering with the Vanguard’s right to do its non-profit business, and
    3. A listing of the city firefighters’ home cities (which might explain their arrogance and/or whether they’d care anything about serving and protecting us from anything other than flames).

  8. hpierce

    [quote]I know of no other employer who allows their employees to shop on company time, using company vehicles for their own groceries. [/quote] This is actually a more salient point than where the firefighters shop… the city does not pay for the groceries, but Roger makes a darn good point. As a public employee, I’d be “busted” if I used city vehicles and/or “on the clock” time to food shop. And rightfully so…

  9. Neutral

    What JustSaying wrote: Links and citations. Otherwise you’re continuing to waste our time perpetuating the myth that a handful of people are capable of destroying a business. If that’s the case maybe it wasn’t that strong or healthy in the first place.

  10. Ryan Kelly

    Are they shopping and getting paid at the same time? It is a grey area. What I see is that they take the entire crew to the store, including two trucks, to shop. The crew needs to stay with the truck in the event that they have a call. They could be made to shop on their own time and bring their food to work, like the rest of us, but that would have to be written into their employment agreement. But, then it wouldn’t be an issue that they aren’t shopping at the grocery store across the street from the station, because they would be shopping in Elk Grove, Fairfield, Oakland, etc.

  11. Rifkin

    PHIL: [i]” Nothing is even remotely proven except the continued reinforcement of a deep-seated prejudice against the Davis fire fighters.”[/i]

    It’s unclear to me, Phil, what you think needs proving.

    I spoke with two young Davis firefighters after David first reported this boycott. I asked them point blank (when they were in uniform but off duty promoting their union), “Why are you no longer doing business with Westlake IGA?” One responded, “Ask Bobby Weist.” The other kid nodded in agreement.

    Phil Coleman’s notion that this is boycott does not exist–that is what his post insinuates–is laughable.

    I personally believe that the firefighters have every right to shop or not shop where they like. I would prefer that we took them off the clock when they are on-duty but not performing the city’s business. However, they are not violating any terms of their contract by shopping for groceries for their firehouse on the city’s time.

    If the Fire Chief thought it would make more sense that they drive their own vehicles or some other smaller city-owned vehicle to the supermarket, he could order them to do so. It’s not fair to blame the firefighters for wasting fuel by driving to Safeway, even though Westlake IGA is closer. They are driving the fire trucks because that is what the chief tells them to do.

    However, just because people have a right to do certain things does not make doing those things the right thing to do. This is a perfect example of that. It is yet more evidence that the Davis firefighters are on the whole a bunch of jackwads.

    Bobby Weist is jackwad-in-chief. But he apparently has the support of the other 45 members of Local 3494, so it is wrong to put all the responsibility for this assinine boycott on Weist. If they didn’t like his idea or didn’t like his leadership, they could get a new head of their union. They have not done that. The firefighters need to be blamed as a whole for this group decision.

    As a result, I think the Davis City Council would be wise to [i]stand up to Local 3494 when the time counts[/i]. That is, the Council needs to tear up their old contract and impose (after following all collective bargaining and mandated impasse procedures) a new contract which is designed for the benefit of the people of Davis and not the jackwad employees who are boycotting Westlake IGA.

    The new contract must have at a minium these 14 reforms:

    1. All new hires get 2% at 55 pension plans;
    2. All firefighters must pay their full 9% employee pension funding share plus they must also pay 3% of the employer share of pension funding (just like the Davis police officers and the chief are paying);
    3. No retirees get medical care paid for by the taxpayers until they reach age 65, unless they are disabled on the job;
    4. The maximum medical benefit shall not exceed $500 per month; that is also the maximum amount any firefighter should be allowed to cash out if they don’t take the city’s coverage;
    5. The city will pay no part of the medical coverage for spouses or children;
    6. Firefighters will no longer be on the clock for 5 hours of sleeping time plus 3 hours of meal and or shopping time each 24 hour duty period; as such, the firefighters will no longer get overtime pay every duty cycle;
    7. There will be no union hours bank;
    8. We will only schedule 3 people per fire truck; and over the course of one year we will lay off up to 9 current firefighters;
    9. Increases in pay and benefits on an annual basis will be based on total compensation; and total comp per individual cannot grow at more than 3 percent per year for all labor expenses;
    10. Firefighters will qualify for 5 paid holidays: Christmas, New Year’s Day, Thanksgiving, 4th of July and one of Yom Kippur, MLK or President’s Day, depending on their preference;
    11. All firefighters will get 10 days of paid vacation per year, starting one year after they are first employed*;
    12. There will be no vacation cash-outs or sick leave cash-outs;
    13. Firefighters will no longer be able to purchase “air time” for richer pensions; and
    14. Firefighters can no longer wear their uniforms or other gear associated with the Davis Fire Department when they are not on duty; and when they are on duty then cannot solicit funds for their charitable endeavors or conduct political or union activities.

    My guess is that once the Council treats the citizens of Davis who are paying the bills with as much respect as they have paid Local 3494 for the last 20 years, the firefighters won’t behave quite as arrogantly as they have under Weist’s reign. They might even call off their boycott, once their contracts are reformed. They might find it in their best interests to start behaving as public servants more than as king-makers.

    *Regarding paid vacations: keep in mind that firefighters don’t need them. They get 20 days off each month. They tend to instead accumulate vacation time for cash-outs or early retirement “service time.”

  12. Ryan Kelly

    If you allow firefighters to have family coverage with a share of cost, what is described above sounds like common working conditions for many people who live in Davis. But you left out the employee having to pay for their own parking/parking passes in Davis where they work, just like other employees. There is really nothing outrageous on that list.

  13. hpierce

    Looking for some clarification, Rifkin… as to what you propose for all city employees, as opposed to Fire:
    [quote]1. All new hires get 2% at 55 pension plans; [/quote]I assume, for non- public safety, you still advocate 2% @ 60/65
    [quote]All firefighters must pay their full 9% employee pension funding share plus they must also pay 3% of the employer share of pension funding[/quote]Do we assume that you propose, that existing and new hires (non-PS) not only pay the full “employee share” (7% for the 2% plans), [u][b]plus[/b][/u] at least 3% of the employer ‘share’, even tho’, currently, most non-PS folks pay 3% FOR the enhanced 2.5 @ 55 benefit.
    [quote]No retirees get medical care paid for by the taxpayers until they reach age 65, unless they are disabled on the job; [/quote]Assume this means, based on PERS rules, if a non-PS employee retires at less than b65 years, they will [b]never[/b] qualify for retiree medical paid by the city taxpayers.
    [quote]The maximum medical benefit shall not exceed $500 per month; that is also the maximum amount any firefighter should be allowed to cash out if they don’t take the city’s coverage[/quote]I assume you recommend this apply not only to retirees, but also to current and future employees, whether PS or not.
    [quote]The city will pay no part of the medical coverage for spouses or children; [/quote]Well, if the previous point is won, there is no point in discussing this… no dependents COULD be covered. Again, is this what you recommend for all city employees, PS or not?
    [quote]Increases in pay and benefits on an annual basis will be based on total compensation; and total comp per individual cannot grow at more than 3 percent per year for all labor expenses; [/quote]Again, if your previous recommendations are followed, as I understand them, emplyees who choose health care for themselves and/or dependents will go into a downward spiral for take-hiome pay, but the tax payers are protected. Also implied is that 3% is the “max”, but it could be as little as 0% per year, as I understand your proposal.
    [quote]Firefighters will qualify for 5 paid holidays: Christmas, New Year’s Day, Thanksgiving, 4th of July and one of Yom Kippur, MLK or President’s Day, depending on their preference; [/quote]Do you recommend this for all city employees, PS or not?
    [quote]All firefighters will get 10 days of paid vacation per year, starting one year after they are first employed[/quote]Do you recommend the same 10-day formula for all non-PS employees, regardless of years served?
    [quote]There will be no vacation cash-outs or sick leave cash-outs[/quote] I assume you recommend this for all city employees, PS or not.
    Feel free to clarify if my assumptions are incorrect.

  14. Observer

    I drove by the soccer fields yesterday. It seems someone got hurt, as there was an ambulance. There were also TWO firetrucks. This is crazy. The firemen justify their numbers by citing the number of calls they respond to. Two trucks, 8 firemen, one injury. Is this what we are paying for? Who cares where they buy their groceries; there are way too many of them. BTW, is there a public log of their calls? Do they ever have to respond to fires? Time for a reduction in force.

  15. Anticommunist

    Am I the only one who sees the hysterical irony of you not telling us what the other website is???

    How could they accuse YOU of only letting one opinion be heard! LOL

  16. realitycheck

    Really Rifkin….Jackwad….Are you stooping to that level in public?

    http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=JACK WAD

    A person containing the attributes of both a “Jack ass” and a “Dick wad”. Having a inept attitude or ignorance.

    The term Jack Wad is used to describe an uneducated, moronic, retard, with absolutely no regard for any other person. This term is mostly used to describe a lawbreaker or other low life drain on society.

    hpierce raises some good points…

    As for #6 on your wish list.

    If firefighters are “off the clock” to sleep, eat or go to the store are you alright with them leaving the station to go home to sleep or go to a restaurant with their families? If they are “off the clock” and a call comes in, should they go back to the station “clock in” and then respond or if they are at the station do they “clock in” before responding to an emergency?

  17. Rifkin

    HP: [i]”I assume, for non- public safety, you still advocate 2% @ 60/65″[/i]

    Yes, 2% at 60 for new miscellaneous hires.

    [i]”Assume this means, based on PERS rules, if a non-PS employee retires at less than 65 years, they will never qualify for retiree medical paid by the city taxpayers.”[/i]

    Once they retire, they will qualify for medical coverage under a PERS plan. However, to get that plan, the retiree will have to pay the costs of his premium until he reaches age 65. After that, the City will pay the bills and Medicare (normally) will cover part of it.

    [i]”I assume you recommend this apply not only to retirees, but also to current and future employees, whether PS or not.”[/i]

    Correct. That $500 amount is (in most current labor contracts the maximum cash-out amount for all new hires (as of some time in 2010). It is essentially the amount that a medical + dental plan in our region now costs for one person. If an employee wants more, he can pay for it. (That coverage, I should note, is still far richer than most private plans in our region. The fact that we are paying 3 times as much for almost all employees now is crazy.)

    [i]”Well, if the previous point is won, there is no point in discussing this… no dependents COULD be covered. Again, is this what you recommend for all city employees, PS or not?”[/i]

    I suggest, at the least, we start with those employees who are boycotting a store in Davis.

    [i]”Again, if your previous recommendations are followed, as I understand them, employees who choose health care for themselves and/or dependents will go into a downward spiral for take-home pay, but the taxpayers are protected. Also implied is that 3% is the “max”, but it could be as little as 0% per year, as I understand your proposal.”[/i]

    Yes. Until we have the revenues to cover the endlessly increasing liability costs of pensions and medical care and unfunded retiree medical and frankly base salaries for a lot of admins, we need to cap the growth in our total labor costs lest we go bankrupt or destroy critical city services.

    [i]”Do you recommend this for all city employees, PS or not?”[/i]

    I recommend 5 paid holidays for all people who must work on holidays and therefore get paid time and a half (or double time in some cases). For others, I can live with 10, which is twice what most private employees get. The fact that we give everyone 14.5 paid holidays is an outrage.

    [i]”Do you recommend the same 10-day formula for all non-PS employees, regardless of years served?”[/i]

    No. Firefighters are unique because they are off 20 days every month. However, I think we give too much paid OT to veteran employees. This is a huge and unnecessary expense. I think that so many have cashed-out vacation time helps to prove my point. A vacation schedule something like this strikes me as fairly reasonable for all other city workers:

    1-5 years = 2 weeks per year.
    6-15 years = 3 weeks per year.
    16 years or more = 4 weeks per year.

    And for employees over age 60, add one week per year.

    Compare what I suggest with what most employees now get:

    1-3 years = 3 weeks per year.
    4-5 years = 3.4 weeks per year.
    6-10 years = 4 weeks per year.
    11 years = 4.6 weeks per year.
    12 years = 4.8 weeks per year.
    13 years = 5 weeks per year.
    14 years = 5.2 weeks per year.
    15 years = 5.4 weeks per year.
    16+ years = 5.6 weeks per year.

    Keep in mind also that on top of this amount of paid vacation, a large number of “manangement” employees get another 2 weeks of paid time off for “management leave,” which is almost exclusively cashed in.

    [i]”I assume you recommend (no vacation/sick leave cash-outs) for all city employees, PS or not.”[/i]

    Yes. However, I think we need to start first with those city employees who are boycotting a local business. If it happens we save enough money with them and don’t need further savings with the others, we can ease off the cut-backs I suggest.

  18. Rifkin

    [i]”The term Jack Wad is used to describe an uneducated, moronic, retard, with absolutely no regard for any other person. This term is mostly used to describe a lawbreaker or other low life drain on society.”[/i]

    If you have a better term for city employees who are boycotting a local business, buying influence with members of the Davis City Council and following the leadership of Capt. Weist, then please suggest it.

    And for what it is worth, the Urban Dictionary does not have the final word. Jackwad is synonymous with “not cool” in my lexicon. It does not mean to me any of the words you think it does.

  19. Rifkin

    [i]”If firefighters are “off the clock” to sleep, eat or go to the store are you alright with them leaving the station to go home to sleep or go to a restaurant with their families? If they are “off the clock” and a call comes in, should they go back to the station “clock in” and then respond or if they are at the station do they “clock in” before responding to an emergency?”[/i]

    According to federal labor law which governs these things, it is permissible for a city or other government agency to require firefighters to be on duty for 24 hours but to not pay them for all of those 24 hours. They can be legally deemed off the clock for up to 8 hours of uninterupted sleep time; and they can also be taken off the clock for one hour for each meal break. What I suggest follows the federal labor law for firefighters.

    I should also note that if we pay our firefighters for 16 hours each 24-hour duty cycle, we will save well more than $1 million per year in salary, overtime and pension costs. You have every right to disagree with me and side with the fire union on this. However, because the current system is so much more expensive, I think the onus is on you (and the firefighters) to explain where we are supposed to get that $1 million-plus every year.

  20. Rifkin

    [i]”They can be legally deemed off the clock for up to 8 hours of uninterupted sleep time …”[/i]

    Because of the medical calls which come in after midnight, I think on many days it is very unlikely they will get 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep. Because of that, I think we need only take them off the clock for 5 hours of sleep time. The rest should be from 1 hour of breakfast time; one hour of lunch time; and one hour of dinner time. If a meal is interrupted by a call, they can take an hour off for their meal after they return to the station.

  21. Don Shor

    Rich: [i]”If you have a better term for city employees who….”[/i]

    I would call them firefighters, and let their actions speak for themselves. It’s not necessary to call anyone names.

  22. AdRemmer

    [quote]One responded, “Ask Bobby Weist.” The other kid nodded in agreement. [/quote]

    I guess it’s not possible that these line staff were directing the questioner ask the man who makes the big bucks, huh?

  23. wdf1

    Anti: [i]Am I the only one who sees the hysterical irony of you not telling us what the other website is?[/i]

    [url]http://truthindavis.blogspot.com/2011/10/vanguards-reports-on-iga-boycott.html[/url]

  24. Rifkin

    [i]”I guess it’s not possible that these line staff were directing the questioner ask the man who makes the big bucks, huh?”[/i]

    Weist makes a very handsome remuneration from his job as a fire captain. Plus, he may also take some payment for running Local 3494. I don’t fault him for any money he makes legitimately. However, it was quite strange when–according to the Yolo County Grand Jury report–he scored 9th out of 10 candidates on the promotion list but Weist was promoted nonetheless. That is why he makes the big bucks, as you say.

  25. hpierce

    [quote]Correct. That $500 amount is (in most current labor contracts the maximum cash-out amount for all new hires (as of some time in 2010). It is essentially the amount that a medical + dental plan in our region now costs for one person.[/quote]Essentially? Kaiser, for employee only is currently ~ $570/ month… Dental ~ $70 per month. so, by your definition of “essentially”, $500 = $640? ok… I understand what you mean.

    As to the other questions I asked, thank you for your candor. I may not agree, but at least you were forthright in your responses.

  26. hpierce

    I also find it amusing (not) that some feel that employee compensation be predicated on where they shop, and that we should make sure that any employee think long and hard before having any dependents who need medical/dental coverage… apparently, whether they are public safety or not… interestingly, the “cafeteria buyout” was pushed by those who had no dependents, based on their lifestyle choices, and resented that married employees with children “got more than they did”. Used to be that medical/dental coverage was the benefit, whether you were a single employee, or married/partnered with kids… it morphed into the city had to pay the same no matter what, including coverage outside the city for the family. But that was when dirt was “new”.

  27. JustSaying

    “[quote][i]”If Rifkin can manipulate public employees the way he does the Vanguard, he’s who you want for city manager…Don’t be too hard on him Don, you’ve got a paid flack writing most of your copy for free . Or will flack be too harsh for an out-of-towner to slip by?”[/i][/quote][b]Don and David[/b], you already have my vote from yesterday’s discussion, but here are a couple examples of comments that should be of much more oversight concern to you than the “off topic” worries that seemed to be concerning you.

    Actually, an otherwise serious and thoughtful presentation can be livened up by dropping in a short, snotty personal attack. But, I’m not sure that stand-alone personal attacks should be viewed as generously.

  28. Sequoia

    [quote] The firefighters have a complete right to shop where they want, until and unless they violate the law by advocating an illegal third party boycott, targeting one business in an attempt to harm another. That violates labor law and is against both state and federal law.[/quote]
    Please cite these laws.
    Also, this is open to interpretation and this is merely yours. They are not targeting a business to harm yours, they are choosing not to spend money at a business that was supporting you in an effort to not support you indirectly. So you seem to be interpreting that if someone actively takes measures to avoid supporting your business financially (directly or indirectly)they are in fact attempting to harm you.

    [quote]That is against the law, and it is an unlawful interference with the Vanguard’s right to do business and first amendment right to free speech.[/quote]
    Sorry David, but you’re really reaching here. So anyone one who opts to not patronize any of the establishments that advertise on your site because they don’t want to support your views – they are all in effect violating your First Amendment rights? Interesting.
    Another thing, some people are talking like their driving all the way to the other side of town. By Google maps the IGA is .1 miles from Station 32, the nearest Safeway is 1.9 miles for a difference of 1.8 miles or 3.6 miles round trip. If the trucks do get close to 5 miles per gallon that’s less then one gallon of gas at an average of $3.80 per gallon. I don’t shop the IGA, it’s not close enough, but I hear they don’t always necessarily have the cheapest prices on everything. Has anyone even stopped to consider even the remotest possibility that even though they’re spending a whopping few bucks in gas and driving a whopping 3.6 extra miles that they might actually be saving themselves some money by shopping elsewhere. Perhaps they’re even getting better customer service there. I know that I prefer to shop where I feel appreciated. If they are driving fire engines I’m pretty sure it’s probably because they have to, you know because they have to be ready in case there’s a call – or would you prefer they take their own car and have to drive back to the station when they’re shopping and have to answer a call. Everyone knows that when a call comes in many times every second counts. So let’s say they have to use a city vehicle, so because of this they forfeit their right to choose where they shop even if it means they have to spend more money or put up with worse service? For all we know IGA’s advertising on the Vanguard may not be the sole reason they chose not to shop there, it may have just been the straw that broke the camel’s back. If you ask me this entire issue has become way too overly exaggerated and way too overly sensationalized. People are making mountains out of molehills. The IGA’s economic state of affairs is far from being entirely attributable to the firefighters choosing not to shop their, as the article said, if more members of the community chose to shop there it really wouldn’t matter if the firefighters did or not. I have a feeling that much of the hostility towards the firefighters regarding this issue has been misappropriated and is disproportionate to the issue itself. More likely the animosity expressed regarding this issue has far less to do with this issue itself than it does the polluting influence of repeated adversarial rhetoric.

  29. Sequoia

    [quote]Actually, an otherwise serious and thoughtful presentation can be livened up by dropping in a short, snotty personal attack. But, I’m not sure that stand-alone personal attacks should be viewed as generously. [/quote]

    Translation: Its acceptable if it agrees with my viewpoint, if it doesn’t it’s unacceptable.

  30. Phil Coleman

    With the caveat of having no authorization to speak on behalf of the Davis Fire Fighters in any context, I believe the procedural justification for shopping on City time and using a city vehicle is that these first responders must maintain unit integrity at all times. They have instant radio communications wherever they go and should they receive a call while in the meat department, they can drop everything and rush to the emergency as a unit.

    Rich, nowhere in my remarks did I say or imply that the fire fighters were not boycotting. I challenge you to point out where in my remarks that I made any reference to the boycott issue. I think it was a boycott, if you’d like to know.

    My comments were limited to completely unsubstantiated remarks from an unidentified source or sources and attributed to “city employees,” “fire fighters,” and Bobby Wiest. You can’t fairly attribute remarks to people based only on naked suspicion, even in a blog.

    By the way, boycotting is a legally protected right of political protest. It may be sordid, it may be a public relations disaster, but it is a longstanding form of legal protest.

    Finally, David, you may find this impossible to believe, but Bobby will take your phone call long before he would take mine. Bobby and I have not spoken in decades and both of us are content with keeping it that way. Besides, what we don’t need is yet another hearsay report of Bobby’s mindset.

  31. hpierce

    Phil… with all due respect, most of us buy groceries on our own time, not charged to/paid by our employers… if there is a “mission critical” reason to have an entire squad go to get groceries “on the meter”, I fail to understand it…

  32. Rifkin

    HP: [i]”Essentially? Kaiser, for employee only is currently ~ $570/ month… Dental ~ $70 per month. so, by your definition of “essentially”, $500 = $640? ok… I understand what you mean.”[/i]

    Here is what I meant when I said $500 is more-less what one month’s basic plan costs:

    The Sacramento Area PERS Select plan for one month this year for one person, no dependents and no spouse costs $458.27. The Bay Area version costs $492.68.

    The number $500 per month for max cash-out is the exact number in the contracts for all new hires since 2010 (specific starting dates varying by MOU).

    I hope that clears it up for you, HP.

  33. Rifkin

    Phil, my apologies. I misinterpreted your words.

    PHIL: [i]”I believe the procedural justification for shopping on City time and using a city vehicle is that these first responders must maintain unit integrity at all times.”[/i]

    I personally don’t have a big problem with the firefighters shopping for groceries when they are on duty. Their work-period is 24 hours and for most of that time they have nothing to do but shop, sleep, cook, eat, watch TV, etc.

    However, if this really presented a problem, the rules could be changed so that before their 24-hour shift starts, one or two of them, in their own vehicles, could stop at a supermarket and shop for whatever they needed and bring what they purchased to the firehouse. That would make it no longer necessary for an entire fire crew to drive to a shopping center in a city-owned vehicle, consuming the fuel bought by the taxpayers.

    [i]”They have instant radio communications wherever they go and should they receive a call while in the meat department, they can drop everything and rush to the emergency as a unit.”[/i]

    If you really think about it, this idea of “unit integrity” is nonsense. Arguably, in most cases, it harms public safety, rather than improving it.

    It would make a heckuva lot more sense to split up the crews of four (until we go back to three on a truck, next year) than keep them together. A much safer system would be to have a small civilian vehicle (painted in the DFD’s colors armed with sirens and flashing lights) in each of our three firehouses.

    [img]http://static.cargurus.com/images/site/2009/03/22/14/26/1994_ford_crown_victoria_4_dr_s_sedan-pic-34994-tmb.jpeg[/img]

    When they get a medical call or when they need to go out to a supermarket, two people from the crew should go in the civilian vehicle. The other two members of the crew should stay in the firehouse with their fire truck.

    Why is that safer? First, when the crew is racing to a medical call, it is simply much less dangerous for everyone if they go to the call in a civilian sized car. It also will save a lot of fuel over the course of thousands of calls. They don’t need the giant fire truck, because they are not going to fight a fire.

    Second, if another call comes in–say a fire which is a much higher priority–the two people left at the station can respond to it immediately, driving the fire truck. The other two in the sedan can leave the medical emergency they are on to the ambulance crew, hop in the sedan and race to join the fire truck. If the sedan crew is say in Wildhorse and the fire emergency is downtown, the fire truck will get there much faster, because they will be based at the firehouse at 5th & E. But if, under our current deployment system, everyone is out at Wildhorse, it will take much longer (and hence damage public safety) to get to the fire downtown.

    As one top city official told me when we discussed this idea of having only two firefighters race to medical emergencies in a civilian car, this notion of “unit integrity” is bad for public safety.

    Also, by breaking up the crews as I suggest, we will get much better and faster service for every type of call that goes into the fire department. As things now stand, they are concentrated in three places in town and the ambulance crews are in two more. That results in a division of the city into five parts. But if we only send out two firefighters at a time for a medical call, the city will be divided 6, 7 or 8 ways when they are out of their station. This same logic applies when they need to go to the supermarket.

  34. Rifkin

    [i]”It would make a heckuva lot more sense to split up the crews of four (until we go back to three on a truck, next year) than keep them together.”[/i]

    When we go back to the old model of three on a truck, we can still improve public safety by splitting up the crews on medical calls. Two of them can race to the emergency in the sedan and the third person, who specializes in driving the fire truck, can remain behind at the station. If a fire call comes in when the other two are out, he can gear up and drive immediately to the fire, while the dispatcher alerts the other two firefighters to leave the medical call and meet the truck at the fire STAT.

  35. Rifkin

    [i]”By the way, boycotting is a legally protected right of political protest. It may be sordid, it may be a public relations disaster, but it is a longstanding form of legal protest.”[/i]

    Agreed. And because it is sordid, a perfectly reasonable and legal response by the City Council would be to drive a much better bargain next year for the taxpayers when the fire MOU comes up.

  36. AdRemmer

    hp wrote: [quote]…most of us buy groceries on our own time, not charged to/paid by our employers… if there is a “mission critical” reason to have an entire squad go to get groceries “on the meter”, I fail to understand it… [/quote]

    Maybe it’s because “most of us” do not have a firefighter’s shift pattern?

    It would seem that the issue goes to – do “most firefighters…”

    Maybe it’s just me?

  37. Sequoia

    Another thing – let’s not overlook a point that HPIERCE has raised on numerous occasions that this is a business that offers discounts to UCD Faculty and Staff, College Students, and DJUSD employees but absolutely nothing for city employees. Then, you add to this the fact that at one time they were (although they may not be now) paying to advertise on a site that really hasn’t made much effort to shed any positive light on city workers or the work that they do, but on many occasions seems to go out of its way towards the opposite end. Has the Vanguard ever published anything positive or uplifting regarding the city workers or what they do? I mean really, if you follow this site long enough you’d think that there’s nothing redeeming about them which – say what you will – I don’t believe is true. So when you take these things into consideration, it really doesn’t appear that the Westlake IGA has done very much to send any sort of message that it values city workers or their business.

  38. David M. Greenwald

    “Another thing – let’s not overlook a point that HPIERCE has raised on numerous occasions that this is a business that offers discounts to UCD Faculty and Staff, College Students, and DJUSD employees but absolutely nothing for city employees.”

    They had originally offered a discount to police and fire, but stop the practice at the urging of the firefighters.

  39. wdf1

    DMG: Perhaps the point you raise would be a good basis for negotiating a compromise: Westlake will agree to drop its discount for firefighters, if the firefighters will drop their boycott.

    You’re welcome!

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