Fire union objects to ballot wording

DOWNEY - The city of Downey and the Downey Firemen's Association faced off in court again Wednesday morning as fire union officials claimed the charter amendment wording on June's primary ballot is misleading.The court challenge is just the latest tussle between the city and the fire union, which collected petition signatures last year to place an initiative on the ballot in June that will amend the city charter, eliminating the two-thirds voter approval required for Downey to contract out police and fire services. Fire union officials say the change is necessary because Downey is violating the charter by hiring outside jailers, exposing Downey taxpayers to potential lawsuits. In a press release, Downey officials said LA Superior Court Judge Luis Lavin expedited Wednesday's hearing, swiftly resolving the claim by declining to act as the fire union specified in its lawsuit against the city. City officials also said the fire union had more than 15 months to raise objections to the charter amendment's ballot title and summary, but failed to do so. "It is incredibly unfortunate," Mayor Fernando Vasquez said in a statement. "In addition to the hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars being spent on this election, now even more public money will be wasted on responding to this lawsuit when the City Council is simply fulfilling a core Downey value to provide police and fire services with city staff." In December, the Downey Firemen's Association filed a tort claim against the city, alleging ongoing retaliation, harassment and discrimination since the union voted no confidence in Chief Lonnie Croom, who announced his retirement last week.

********** Published: Feb. 27, 2014 - Volume 12 - Issue 46