- Letters to the Editor
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I was disappointed in the front page article on the Downey fire union complaining about our fire chief, Lonnie Croom. (“Downey Firefighters Allege Discrimination, Harassment,” 12/26/13) All the union quotes appeared to put our fine Chief Croom in a bad light.
As covered in the past, Chief Croom, when asked by the City Council, gave his objective opinion that Downey should keep their fire department. He informed the council that it would be the city’s disadvantage if they gave the fire department to Los Angeles County and paid the county for its services. The city would save some money by contracting with the county. However, they would lose one station; have less coverage; and lose control of the fire department.
Because of this the fire union gave the chief a vote of no confidence. Again, the reasons the rank and file members want Downey to give our fire department to Los Angeles County are: 1.) They will be paid more, 2.) They will receive greater retirement benefits, 3.) Many can work closer to home.
None of our firemen live in Downey. For example, a fireman living in Santa Clarita can work at a Santa Clarita fire station. The reason none of the firemen want to transfer to the county is because they would lose their seniority and start at a lower pay. Also they would lose their years of service for the county’s pension. This would mean they would have to retire at a later date.
The fire union has borrowed approximately $100,000 in an effort to get our city to turn over the fire department to the county. Again, they are pushing for our fire department to be absorbed by Los Angeles County for their own personal benefit, not for the benefit of Downey. None of them have a real interest in the city because not one of them lives in our city.
As most of you probably realize, they have had petitions signed for a special election on June 3 to turn control of the fire department back to the City Council from the residents. Many of the petitioners lied and said signing their petition would help “save” our city’s fire department. The reason the fire department union wants the fate of our fire department in the hands of the council is their consultant informed them they could not get a two-thirds or even a majority of the residents to vote for the fire department to be turned over to Los Angeles County.
However, if the fate of our fire department is in the hands of the City Council, the fire union will only need to get three council members to vote for the fire department to be given to L.A. County. They just have to pick the right council members. This could happen in a few years or maybe five or six years. In this last election, the fire department backed two council candidates. One was defeated. The other won in a very close election. If the union puts a lot of money and walks districts on behalf of councilmen, they can be successful in getting several of their candidates elected.
The fire union set up a special election because they know not too many residents will come out and vote at a special election. Therefore they won’t have to rally as many voters to vote for their proposal. I urge all citizens of Downey to show up for this special election on June 3 and vote to keep our fire department in the hands of its residents.
Published: Feb. 27, 2014 – Volume 12 – Issue 46