Earlier this month in the next town over from me, Port Chester NY, the village board wishing to reduce an $800k budget gap laid off the 8 professional fire fighters that service the village and left the protection of the village to about 300 less trained volunteers. Mayor Dennis Pilla is a voting member of the board as well as the catalyst in this thuggery. This also negated the agreement the village had with neighboring Rye Brook in which Port Chester supplied one paid overnight fire fighter (Rye Brook has had it's issues with firefighters in the past. In the 90's they privatized and went with a publicly traded company for fire protection, Rural-Metro. It was a disaster).
There is talk that the village board did this because the paid fire fighters filed a labor complaint claiming the volunteers mishandled a house fire in March.
Port Chester can afford these fire fighters. The village population is almost 30k, but is almost 60% Hispanic. The Justice Department had to get involved several years ago because no Hispanics were being elected nor nominated to run for the village board.
Twenty years ago, heck even 15 years ago the only reason to go to Port Chester was if you were drinking in Connecticut in which closing time for bars was 2 AM and you wanted to continue drinking until 4 AM. Today, restaurants dot Main St left and right, the resurgent Capitol Theater is becoming a stop for the likes of Jackson Brown and Ringo Starr and there has been much waterfront development along the Byram River.
A dad of a son my son has played baseball with just retired from the Port Chester Fire Department. He is lucky. He has a pension. For now.
The professional fire fighters of Port Chester are in same boat us teachers public service employees being blamed for the incompetence of politicians. Ironically, Rye Brook is where the Westchester Hilton is in which the UFT holds all it's "retreats." Wouldn't Mulgrew not want to worry about fire protection? In fact the closest house to the Hilton is in Port Chester, not Rye Brook (The Rye Brook fire house is near Westchester County Airport).
And guess what the Journal News reported today? Three Democrat board members who were elected in March have been removed because they;
"failed to sign legal paperwork following this year's election wins."This is another attack on public service employees. Port Chester is yet another municipality that can't keep it's finances in order and decides that the scapegoats must be it's public service employees and the the public it's victims.
Each and every time I get into a conversation with a sanitation worker, a parks workers, a cop, a fire fighter, etc... and share that I am a teacher and what is happening to us I tell them that they are next. Well guess what? The professional fire fighters of Port Chester have been the next ones nailed.
Our union, it's leaders, the caucus that runs the UFT has been silent. It has paid thousands to the Westchester Hilton for years to have it's retreats as well has paying hotel tax to the Village of Rye Brook (Rye Brook and Port Chester are both in the Town of Rye...not to be confused with the City of Rye)
We here at SBSB are calling for the UFT to immediately cease doing any business with the Westchester Hilton and any other businesses within the Town of Rye and the villages of Rye Brook and Port Chester until the eight professional fire fighters have their jobs restored as well as the appropriate back pay.
I have run into some really good people at the UFT in the last several months. This does not negate me from my support of MORE/New Action. But sometimes a word of support can go a long way.
God forbid if someone were to die due to inadequate fire protection.