IAFF official responds to Mayor Greenberg article

The following is an email sent to 40 South News editor Doug Miner, unsolicited, received March 24, from Kurt Becker, 4th District Vice President, IAFF (International Association of Fire Fighters) Local 2665.

Mr. Miner,

On behalf of IAFF Local 2665 and the Professional Firefighters of Maplewood, can you please kindly publish the attached in response to the comments from Mayor Greenberg that you published yesterday?

Yours,
Kurt Becker
4th District Vice President
IAFF Local 2665

Firefighters Set the Record Straight
March 24, 2021
By: Kurt Becker, District Vice-President – IAFF Local 2665

I was surprised and disappointed to read the missives Mr. Greenberg published in the South 40 News on March 23, 2021. His article, and his subsequent comments are full of misinformation, half-truths, and in some cases are outright duplicitous. Before I address that, however, let’s point out the accuracies in the Mayor’s diatribes:

First, it is absolutely true that the Maplewood Firefighters Association and IAFF Local 2665 have enthusiastically endorsed his opponent, Ms. Nikylan Knapper. We believe strongly that Nikylan is the most qualified candidate in this race, and we are very proud to stand beside a candidate with her integrity, intellect, and passion for her community as she becomes the first African American woman to become the Mayor of Maplewood.

Second, it is also true that for the last two years the region’s fire service leaders have been working extremely diligently to analyze the strengths and weaknesses of our current system for delivering fire and emergency medical services to our residents and businesses. We owe it to our community to honestly assess whether or not we are doing our job as well as we can be, and to offer alternatives for the consideration of policy makers when it is clear we could do better.

That effort, the Central Metro Fire and Rescue (CMFR) municipal fire department consolidation project, is at the heart of Mr. Greenberg’s misrepresentations so with this response I will try to set the record straight.

To understand the CMFR project it is important to understand the region, and not just be limited to a myopic and provincial view of governance in St. Louis County. The stark reality is that there is not an economist on the planet that would look at the 56 square miles and 190,000 residents that comprise the CMFR service area and conclude that the safest, most responsive, and most efficient way to deliver fire and emergency medical services to the community is to have those services provided by 15 different, independent fire departments, each with their own administration and budget, and to have them dispatched by four different 911 call centers.

Our current deployment model makes little sense when viewed objectively and is a byproduct of the historic balkanization that defines St. Louis County. That notwithstanding, despite the impediments to success baked into this system, our region’s firefighters have done an incredible job ensuring that when someone calls 911, their crisis is addressed, and that consumer perception can make it difficult for some to see why it is necessary to contemplate an alternative model.

The reality is, however, that not one of the fifteen fire departments involved in this study is accredited, or even close to becoming so. Of the 21 fire trucks in the region, only 7 have enough firefighters on them on a daily basis to meet the industry minimum safety standards and performance objectives. Having multiple dispatch centers leads to critical delays – sometimes several minutes – in getting the right resources to an emergency. And, while a cardiac arrest or similar medical emergency in some communities will receive a cadre of 6 firefighter/paramedics almost immediately, there are others where the same critical incident may only have one paramedic on the scene to treat the patient.

The CMFR consolidation project seeks to provide policy makers an alternative to the status quo. One that ensures that all our fire trucks have the right number of firefighters, one that ensures that emergencies receive a standard response regardless of your zip code, and one that results in a fire department capable of achieving accreditation.

On April 14, 2021 we will be making a presentation to the region’s elected officials and city managers. That presentation will be the culmination of Phase 1 of this project which took a very detailed, exhaustive, granular, and data-driven approach and focused on determining the feasibility of creating a more effective and efficient service delivery model.

Our hope is that the data we will share with the city managers, and elected officials will be compelling enough to move this project into Phase 2 which will involve a more meta-level analysis that engages a diverse group of stakeholders to do a critical review of the data gathered in Phase 1 and to engage in discussions of various governance models.

Should Phase 2 of this endeavor result in a contingency of cities desiring to move forward, Phase 3 is when we would envision interested cities making a preliminary commitment and for the discussions at that phase to return to the granular-level and focus on the myriad topics associated with implementation.

In conclusion, to address the most egregious mistruths in Mr. Greenberg’s article and subsequent comments:

First, under no circumstances would an endeavor like this ever remove, or even relocate the fire department presence from the City of Maplewood. Maplewood’s fire trucks and firefighters will continue to operate out of the fire station on Manchester Road as they have for decades. To suggest otherwise is not only totally inaccurate, it’s also completely irresponsible.

Second, is it possible that the region’s policy makers will determine that the best way to move forward is by establishing one large fire protection district? Yes, it is conceivable. It is also very unlikely. And based on the research we have done thus far I, along with my fire service colleagues, would be hesitant to recommend that approach for a myriad reason.

Finally, was there some kind of nefarious quid pro quo between the Maplewood’s firefighters and Nikylan Knapper that led to their endorsement of her candidacy as suggested by Mayor Greenburg? Absolutely not. In fact, that could not be further from the truth. Aside from tacitly making her aware that this project is ongoing, Maplewood’s firefighters and IAFF Local 2665 have not even discussed the details of this consolidation study, let alone asked Ms. Knapper to endorse it.

I hope this explanation sets the record straight and offers insights for readers on this topic. If anyone has further questions, I can be reached at: Kurt.Becker@iaff2665.org

27 thoughts on “IAFF official responds to Mayor Greenberg article

  1. A public mayoral debate would have really cleared this up for a lot of us. If only there were a local news outlet and an outdoor location that could have hosted such a thing…

    • This issue of a central fire district, once it progresses through THREE more phases of study, analysis, and comment by stakeholders, will be decided only by VOTERS, not by whomever holds the office of mayor at the time. The issue of a central fire district is not on this ballot, and likely won’t be on any ballot for some time. There isn’t even a proposal for candidates to comment on yet, just some early stage, generalized projections. It’s kind of incredible our current mayor is dragging our firefighters over this. They deserve better. A debate on this topic would be short indeed, as there is no actual proposal to assess yet, and a wise mayor would wait until reviewing the future final proposal before so definitively deciding whether it is best for Maplewood.

  2. I am voting for Nikkylan Knapper. She is smart, dedicated, and progressive at a time in Maplewood’s life where her qualities are the best fit. The current mayor fought to have the southwest corner at Manchester and Sutton taken from private hands, through eminent domain. People marched on Maplewood City Hall to prevent that. The current mayor also suggested that older residents should move out of Maplewood to make more room for incoming younger residents. What? Yes. Also, at the beginning of the pandemic, when everyone was on lockdown, when only essential workers were supposed to be working, Barry had workers (together) building an addition on his house. What an example to Maplewood, from the mayor himself. Actions speak louder than words. Be careful who you vote for.

      • Right, the former mayor, who has just endorsed Barry. And we all know (because he wrote it in all caps in his mansplaining tantrum about Nikylan’s endorsement by the IAFF) that Barry believes “AN ENDORSEMENT GOES BOTH WAYS.” So are we to assume that by Barry accepting Mayor White’s endorsement that he co-signs all of Mayor White’s former agenda, including his support of eminent domain?

        Obviously that’s a ridiculous assumption, just like Barry’s tirade against the IAFF endorsement is ridiculous.

  3. I am a little confused at this issue. It seems to me that we already have some sort of coalition or agreement with several surrounding fire departments. I have seen it on multiple times that when there is a fire in Maplewood that it is not just the Maplewood fire department that is there. I often see them from Brentwood, Webster Groves and Richmond Heights show up at the scene of the fire. I do not know how that is handled as far as things like money, who decides we need more than one fire truck on site, how many fire fighters do we need. And I suppose that we do the same thing for those other cities when they need help but do not know that for sure. So do we need an official declaration to do this or is the model we have not working as well as it seems to me. Lastly, has anyone talked to the actual fire department about this issue besides the people making this proposal. Are they feeling underpaid, overworked, unsafe on the job due to lack of equipment or staff, not able to safely handle the dangerous work that they do. And as far as a call to dispatch a firetruck is that done locally or already by a central location.

  4. I think that’s the problem in which all of this has been presented to constituents. The mayor presented a potential problem that was perceived by a study that is incomplete. The mayor admits that there are many other questions and so to assume any of this hypothetical situation as fact leads voters to assume too much to make a reasonable conclusion. What is great is that once the proposal is complete, we the voters will have a say. Let’s be honest, I’m sure there are many proposals that the mayor and council will have an influence upon and that’s why we vote not just a prior record, but also value their character and integrity for the problems and issues that have not yet been presented. Having said that, we will need to rely on a functioning council and a mayor that can represented our best interests as the plan develops. This is why picking parts of this incomplete proposal should not have a direct impact on the mayoral election. What I think is important is having a strong leader that will represent Maplewood and foster a healthy relationship with other community entities. I believe what I have witnessed in the comment section here on 40 South over the last couple weeks is a combative mayor who has not demonstrated the ability to facilitate meaningful dialogue and understanding amongst community members. The mayor and others have tried to make the argument that an endorsement or community member support of his opponent automatically makes them lose any autonomy while fulfilling their duty to the citizens of Maplewood, I disagree. I think Ms. Knapper has built a coalition of individuals, community leaders, business representation and even the Firefighters Union to look into our future with excitement and hope for our beloved city as opposed to living in fear.

  5. Mr. Becker you state: “[I]s it possible that the region’s policy makers will determine that the best way to move forward is by establishing one large fire protection district? Yes, it is conceivable. It is also very unlikely. And based on the research we have done thus far I, along with my fire service colleagues, would be hesitant to recommend that approach for a myriad reason.

    What are some of the myriad reasons this approach would not be recommended? If not one district, what would an effective structure look like, assuming all participants were on board? I am trying to understand the difference between the status quo, one large fire protection district, and something else, perhaps a more likely and/or feasible, solution.

    Thank you.

    • Al, I’m not at all a critic of fire protection districts (FDP). They work, and work well. Case in point, about 75% of St. Louis County’s residents and real estate is protected by a FPD. That number is roughly 90% in St. Charles County. Of the fire service agencies in the metro region that have become accredited, all are FPDs.

      The concern we have with applying that model here is that it will create significant “winners and losers” in terms of taxing. With one large FPD, there will be one standard property tax rate applied to all households and businesses. And, because the municipal league has lobbied aggressively against allowing FPDs in St. Louis County to collect sales tax, the only source of revenue to fund operations is property taxes.

      The end result would be that some cities with very high property valuations would pay a lot more than they are paying now, and cities with lower valuations would pay a lot less than they are paying now. While philosophically that may appeal to egalitarian sensibilities, politically it means in all likelihood it would fail when put to the voters.

      I work for the Clayton FD, and I live in Webster. My fire department has been serving the community since 1897. That’s a lot of history. We think it’s important to preserve that history and maintain municipal engagement in the fire department while at the same time creating a deployment model that meets the economic and service demands of the 21st century.

      As mentioned in other posts, we have a presentation to elected officials and city managers on April 14. Those community leaders are entitled to hear the details of our proposal before all of that information is released in public forums like this. I apologize if that comes across as evasive, but out of respect to those individuals I cannot reveal much more at this time rather than to say that we believe that a very viable option exists that is essentially a hybrid version of a municipality and a FPD. Under that scenario, cities like Maplewood would still retain autonomy on how to fund the FD (sales tax, property tax, etc.), would still have input in how the new FD operates, and the community would be the recipient of significantly upgraded emergency services that would be managed in a much more efficient manner.

      Hope this explanation helps.

  6. Kurt, It would be helpful if you actually read my post before accusing me of egregious mistruths.
    Nowhere did I say that the Fire Protection District would consider moving the fire house or apparatus from Maplewood. In fact, I corrected someone else that expressed that concern. My quote was “It is extremely unlikely that there would not be a Fire Protection District presence in Maplewood. We have a state of the art facility in a desirable location.”
    The following comment you made I do not understand: “is it possible that the region’s policy makers will determine that the best way to move forward is by establishing one large fire protection district?” I thought that you are proposing a FPD that encompasses 20 municipalities and 15 municipal fire departments. Where did I state that the scope was different than that? Does that mean that your statement indicates that you will subdivide the 56 square miles into smaller fire protection districts? Which approach would you be “hesitant to recommend” because I don’t see any other approach mentioned except your proposal.
    I never said that there was quid pro quo going on. I merely stated that if I accept an endorsement from an outside organization, then I support their agenda. Why would someone accept an endorsement from an entity that they did not agree with? Why do not we settle that specific point by having Ms. Knapper publicly endorse the establishment of a fire protection district or not. If she does not feel beholden to the IAFF for the endorsement, she can clarify that with a simple statement. I definitely would NOT have accepted an endorsement from Better Together, whether we discussed the details or not, because I did my research and realized that the plan was incomplete, misleading and was based on assumptions that that couldn’t be substantiated. This is another Better Together in my opinion.
    If you look on line 23 of your published budget, it clearly states that the “Cost per City” is $6,062,586.76. It took it from your spreadsheet. Also in my discussions with our finance department, I don’t believe that you have the correct budget numbers, but I need to review that before stating it as fact. I know you cannot produce final numbers right now, but I believe that the cost of fire service will increase, and that cost will be funded by addition property taxes. I know it is difficult to finalize numbers at this point, but it would be difficult to justify economies of scale offsetting additional staff and increased salaries, unless you would like to make that guarantee right here. Will you?
    Will you also answer the following questions?:
    Will the City of Maplewood be compensated for the change of ownership of the $7,000,000 fire house we just built?
    Will the City of Maplewood be compensated for the change of ownership of the of the new $740,000.00 fire truck.
    Will the City of Maplewood be compensated for the debt we took on to upgrade our rescue truck?
    What happens to our firefighters’ pension fund?
    In what manner to do we have any local control over our fire service being that we constitute 4% of the affected population and 3% of the affected land area?
    Are you going to employ a 3 person or 5 person board to provide oversight for a district that serves 190,000 residents and 56 square miles?
    How do we separate our 911 police calls and 911 fire calls since we will have separate dispatch centers?
    I have a long list of other questions that I don’t believe have been determined yet, but I feel a responsibility to the citizens of Maplewood to have those answers before any endorsements are made so that we can understand the cost / benefit proposition here.

    • There’s too many issues with everything you’re saying here to begin to address them all with one comment, but here’s your direct quote claiming the union wants to take away or fire house:

      “I have loved and supported our fire department since 1988, I have voted for every tax increase that has put our firefighters salaries in the top 25% of St. Louis area municipal fire departments and helped pay for the fire house they want to take away from us, but this is about money and power. ” – Barry Greenberg

      • In all fairness to Barry, Jim. If the bank said they were going to “take away” your house, would you think they meant move it out of Maplewood, or simply take ownership of it?

        I’m not sure if you’re understanding what he was trying to communicate, but I could be wrong.

        Cheers!

        • I’m not interested in arguing his point or comparing my house to a publicly owned fire station. I just think the mayor should own up to what he’s said.

          • But for what it’s worth, from what I’ve ready in the plan, it looks like they want to invest more resources in the Maplewood Fire Station because it’s so centrally located. They’re talking about a ladder truck, for example. So it seems to me like nobody’s trying to take anything away from Maplewood.

    • Mayor Greenberg,

      I encourage you to discontinue engaging in such hyperbole and histrionics, and to stop trying to politicize an issue that really should not be fodder for your mayoral campaign. To suggest that the support or opposition to this project should somehow be a litmus test for candidates in this race is nothing short of absurd since neither candidate – nor any elected official in the region – has heard the result of the two years of work that has gone into this effort. It makes no more sense to ask Ms. Knapper to publicly endorse something she knows very little about, than it does to watch you rail against something you know very little about.

      Mayor Thomson from Richmond Heights had some questions on this project, so rather than ranting them on a public forum like this, he penned a letter. My response to his inquiry can be found below, which I believe will address most of your queries as well.

      Finally, whether Ms. Knapper or you win the Mayoral contest on April 6, I do hope that whomever the voters elect to represent them will attend the presentation we are hosting on April 14 with an open mind and with an eye towards doing what’s best for Maplewood – whether that’s maintaining the status quo or embracing meaningful change.

      Yours,

      Kurt Becker

      My email to Mayor Thomson, March 27, 2021:

      Mayor Thomson,

      Thank you very much for your thoughtful letter. We certainly appreciate the concerns and questions you have raised, and either with this correspondence or during the presentation on April 14, our leadership team will have detailed responses to your queries for you and your fellow municipal leaders. With that said, I apologize in advance for the length of this email, but it is difficult to adequately respond to your letter without that response being somewhat voluminous.

      Your inquires appear to fall into three broad categories – pensions, capital assets, and taxes. All of those are critical pieces, and the first two – pensions and capital assets – are so important that we dedicated separate work groups to identifying the best way to address those matters should this effort lead to a reimagined fire and EMS service delivery model. Before we dig a little deeper into those however, perhaps it would be beneficial to provide a little more overall context for you and your colleagues.

      Your letter opens by suggesting that this is “your plan” (referring to me specifically) and then you appear to conflate what our team is endeavoring to present to the municipal leaders with the failure a couple of years ago of the broad sweeping Better Together movement. Let me assure you that neither of those could be further from the truth.

      Over the last twenty years there have been no fewer than ten separate efforts in our region to develop an effective alternative to operating multiple individual fire departments. None of those efforts have ultimately been successful, but each serves as a stone in the foundation of this project. When we embarked on this latest journey we assembled a leadership team comprised initially of eight fire chiefs and four firefighters. So, while it is me responding to your inquiry, I am doing so on behalf of a broad group of fire service leaders and subject matter experts whose only motivation is to make sure our community receives the best fire department possible for the investments we are making in it.

      Regarding Better Together, the goal of that scheme was essentially the dissolution of municipal governments in St. Louis County, and this project could not be further from being aligned with those values. To the contrary, we envision the 15 municipal governments being fundamental partners of any entity that comes out of this project.

      To that end, for the last two years the region’s fire service leaders have been working extremely diligently to analyze the strengths and weaknesses of our current system for delivering fire and emergency medical services to our residents and businesses. We owe it to our community to honestly assess whether or not we are doing our job as well as we can be, and to offer alternatives for the consideration of policy makers when it is clear we could do better.

      That effort is called the Central Metro Fire and Rescue (CMFR) municipal fire department consolidation project.

      To understand the CMFR project it is important to understand the region, and not just be limited to a provincial view of governance in St. Louis County. The stark reality is that there is not an economist on the planet that would look at the 56 square miles and 190,000 residents that comprise the CMFR service area and conclude that the safest, most responsive, and most efficient way to deliver fire and emergency medical services to the community is to have those services provided by 15 different, independent fire departments, each with their own administration and budget, and to have them dispatched by four different 911 call centers.

      Our current deployment model makes little sense when viewed objectively and is a byproduct of the historic balkanization that defines St. Louis County. That notwithstanding, despite the impediments to success baked into this system, our region’s firefighters have done an incredible job ensuring that when someone calls 911, their crisis is addressed. And, it is that consumer perception that can make it difficult for some to see why it is necessary to contemplate an alternative model, because like yourself, everyone is very proud of their own fire department.

      While that hometown pride is well deserved, it is critical to acknowledge that not one of the fifteen fire departments involved in this study is accredited, or even close to becoming so. Of the 21 fire trucks in the region, only 7 have enough firefighters on them on a daily basis to meet the industry minimum safety standards and performance objectives. Having multiple dispatch centers leads to critical delays – sometimes several minutes – in getting the right resources to an emergency. And, while a cardiac arrest or similar medical emergency in some communities will receive a cadre of 6 firefighter/paramedics almost immediately, there are others where the same critical incident will regularly see prolonged delays before an ambulance arrives and may only have one or two paramedics on the scene to treat the patient.

      The CMFR consolidation project seeks to provide policy makers an alternative to the status quo. One that ensures that all our fire trucks have the right number of firefighters, one that ensures that emergencies receive a standard response regardless of your zip code, and one that results in a fire department capable of achieving accreditation in much the same way that most of our police departments have.

      As you noted in your letter, on April 14, 2021 we will be making a presentation to the region’s elected officials and city managers. That presentation will be the culmination of Phase 1 of this project which took a very detailed, exhaustive, granular, and data-driven approach and focused on determining the feasibility of creating a more effective and efficient service delivery model.

      Our hope is that the data we will share with the city managers and elected officials will be compelling enough to move this project into Phase 2 which will involve a more meta-level analysis that engages a diverse group of stakeholders to do a critical review of the data gathered in Phase 1 and to engage in discussions of various governance models.

      Should Phase 2 of this endeavor result in a contingency of cities desiring to move forward, Phase 3 is when we would envision interested cities making a preliminary commitment and for the discussions at that phase to return to the granular-level and focus on the myriad topics associated with implementation.

      A common misconception we have encountered is that our desired outcome of this project is to form one large fire protection district (FPD) in place of the current system, and for that FPD to be its own taxing entity with a 3 or 5 member Board of Directors. While that certainly is a possible option should the region’s policy makers determine that is the best way to proceed, for a myriad reason that is not the recommendation we would make after the analysis we have done thus far.

      Governance will be an important part of Phase 2 of this project, and one that needs multiple perspectives weighing in to be effective. We will discuss in detail what those Phase 2 conversations could look like on April 14, but for the purpose of responding to your query on property taxes, we do not envision a need for a regional property tax to fund CMFR, and as far as governance is concerned we believe that there is a hybrid approach that is very meritorious of consideration.

      Because we see CMFR as a partnership with the 15 municipalities, the topic of capital assets becomes rather straightforward. We see no reason for taxpayers to fund the construction of 20 new fire stations when overwhelmingly the ones in place are in great shape and serve the region well. We will make sure to go into detail on this on the 14th, but in the simplest of terms, your citizens can be assured that their fire stations will stay exactly where they are and the outward appearance of their fire department will be very similar to what they are familiar with today.

      Finally, pensions are by far the most complicated subject we had to tackle. Each of the 15 cities have a different pension plan. About half are in LAGERS, and half are self-managed plans. Similarly, about half pay into Social Security, and about half don’t. As daunting as that was, our work group developed an outcome with the LAGERS system that will ensure that all transferring employees are vested on day 1, that allows us to have two separate plans based on current Social Security participation, and that ensures that none of our employees see a reduction in retirement benefits. We have made arrangements for a representative from LAGERS to be on hand on the 14th to provide more details, and the members of our pension work group will be in attendance as well to address any questions.

      Again, I want to thank you for the letter you sent yesterday, and I hope that this response addresses some of your questions and concerns. I am happy to respond to any further inquiries from you, or any of your colleagues between now and April 14, and I look forward to seeing you all in mid-April.

      Have a great weekend!

      Yours,

      Kurt Becker
      4th District Vice President
      IAFF Local 2665
      Email: Kurt.Becker@iaff2665.org
      Mobile: 314.393.9760

      • Mr Becker:
        Thank you for continuing to take the time to explain the CMFR proposal. I agree that it’s absurd for an incumbent mayor to continue to pontificate about an amorphous project (especially if the impetus of the commentary was an endorsement for his opponent.)
        I look forward to learning more about this proposal, along with my fellow citizens. I trust the firefighters and their leadership to develop a comprehensive plan to deliver services more than a single mayor who dismisses the plan before it’s even out of the gate.

        • Beth, This has long been a source of conversation and concern. Too many judgements are being made here with little background, context, etc. to support them. Politicization of such issues in the middle of a mayoral campaign is more than problematic when an external entity of this magnitude is taking sides in this way. Never, in over 50 years have I seen such a thing in Maplewood! Accusations flying? Constructive comments are best. Negatives not productive in our small, friendly town…as we strive to keep it, in my opinion.

          • Hi, I have question about your opinion on the endorsement because that seems to be at the center of the issue. If I recall the timeline correctly the IAFF endorsed Ms Knapper(the endorsement was not specific to any singular issue, just the candidate) then our mayor wrote an editorial attacking the endorsement and possible IAFF plan and that started politicizing the issue by taking a side. So should a candidate not take any endorsement? Lots of individuals have made endorsements both formally and I would argue informally by even having hard signs. In fact Mayor Greenberg endorsed two candidate in 2019 and he is more than just any individual. Some would say he is the most influential person or position in the city. Anyway those are just my thoughts and thank you for always sharing your perspective as a longtime and proud resident of Maplewood.

          • Pickett,
            The incumbent didn’t comment on the CMFR plan on 40 south, his Facebook page, or the lit he sent to my house……until the endorsement of his opponent.
            You want talk about judgements made with “little background?”
            Talk to the incumbent about his erroneous claims.
            You want to talk about “politicization of such issues?”
            Talk to the incumbent about why he’s used 40 south to demean an endorsement he didn’t receive.
            Want to talk about “negative comments?”
            Take a look at what the incumbent has written in the comment the last few weeks.
            I don’t see Nikylan making judgements about topics she has yet to learn about nor do I see her politicizing this issue- in fact she’s not speaking about the issue at all because it’s irrelevant to the current mayoral race. Furthermore, I don’t see Nikylan engaging rudely with constituents on 40 south.
            Most of us know why the incumbent is making uninformed claims and vague accusations about his opponent, it’s called sour grapes.
            We’re not here for it because we deserve better.
            I’m voting for Nikylan Knapper on April 6th.

      • Mr. Becker,

        Is it fair to accuse Mr. Greenberg of politicizing or bringing this into the mayoral race after you endorsed his opponent in the mayoral race?

        That seems a little disingenuous to me.

        Warm Regards,

        • Of course I’ll let Mr Becker answer for himself but I think you bring up a good point that our current mayor has tried to make. Does an endorsement mean a candidate is in return endorsing any future plans? I don’t think it does. I think an endorsement in this case is supporting a candidate that they trust not only now but in the future to work together. This is why I disagree with the approach our current mayor has demonstrated. He attempted to claim an endorsement meant his opponent would automatically agree with whatever the union proposes. Of course no endorsement is a binding agreement of any proposal but also specific to this discussion it would go to a vote by citizens. This is why I feel it is inappropriate to draw any such conclusion. I also believe that while it is appropriate for you and I to discuss this in a comment thread on 40 south but not the best forum for a mayor to have discussions with the union or constituents. Just my thoughts and thanks for the conversation.

  7. Mr. Becker – Thank you for taking the time to write such an informative and thoughtful reply to what appears to be the rantings of a man who knows he is losing his race. Maplewood loves our firefighters and stands with you. I am sorry that you had to take time away from the very important work that you do to respond to misinformation and baseless accusations. I never followed our local mayor race much until I saw our current mayor going on the attack against our firefighters. I’m paying attention now and will be voting, but not for him.

  8. I believe Barry’s original post could have been better written.

    However, I share the concerns about the potential idea of losing control of our fire services. Our cities budget has been well managed. I relocated to Maplewood a few years ago because we have a strong community. I take pride in how we manage our city – we remain on the up and up and a desirable location – and it is worth acknowledging that Barry has played a meaningful role as a leader. Do I agree with him all the time, no. But I have found him to be accessible and transparent and willing to raise tough questions.

    The proposal put forth about merging fire departments suggests that Maplewood would see an increased cost of nearly $3M for our services.

    That is a big chunk of change.

    Yes, nothing is finalized. But it is something worth noting.

    Finally it is very unfortunate that there is not a mayoral forum this year as this is an important election. I personally think both candidates stand for many of the same things. I think they both care deeply about this City.

    Is it possible for someone to pull together a forum/debate between the two candidates in the next week? Could 40southnews host something?

    • Hi David, I am not sure where you are getting the figure that IF a fire department consolidation were to occur that Maplewood’s cost would increase by $3mil annually. That is just not factually accurate.

      Currently, the all-inclusive budget for the Maplewood Fire Department (MFD) is between $3.7 -4mil annually. That does not include the share of the civilian administration that is required to manage the MFD. With that included, a rough estimate is $4-4.3mil.

      The MFD also faces some significant down stream costs because it does not have sufficient personnel to meet the minimum industry safety standards and because it does not have adequate administrative personnel to effectively manage the emergency and daily operations. All totaled, those expenses will eventually cost the City of Maplewood and additional $600-700k.

      When you analyze all 15 fire department’s budgets, combined the region is paying about $65mil annually to operate 20 fire stations and 21 fire trucks. We are estimating that through efficiencies gained that the combined FD can provide dramatically better services for $70-75mil annually.

      There are a number of ways to examine this, but from my perspective the easiest is to look at a service delivery unit (SDU) cost. In this case, the service delivery unit is a fire truck, of which there are 21. Baked into the cost of a SDU is: fire suppression, emergency medical services, incident command, fire prevention and code enforcement, and administration.

      Our estimate is that in a consolidated deployment model, the cost per SDU (ie fire truck) would be $3.6-4mil annually, which would mean that in simple and plain language, Maplewood would likely be paying a roughly similar amount for fire service as it is today, and getting significantly better service for that investment.

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