An Open Letter to the SLO City Council and the Citizens For SLO

August 22, 2011

OPINION By ROB FARINO

My name is Rob, and I am a Fire Engineer for the City of San Luis Obispo. My wife is a local business owner downtown, and we live here in the City.

I am one of the “knife in the back” wearing demonstrators who also drive an old fire engine around town (and no, it is not a city vehicle). After all I’ve seen and heard over the course of this campaign, I have some things I want to say to you A and B supporters and City Council Members (Carter, Smith, Carpenter and Marx).

My first point is that while you are quick to point out that many police officers and firefighters “don’t even live in the city,” I would also say that many small business owners don’t either.

We are still a large part of this community, and there are at least 22 of us in town, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. We shop here whether on-duty or off, and we try to support local businesses because we want our community to prosper.

Even though one of my co-workers could have gotten a better deal at Costco or online, he bought a nice new camera in a downtown store before his wife gave birth to their first child. I used to buy cigars occasionally at Doug’s shop downtown even though they are about one third the price when purchased online.

Please be advised that we take notice of your campaign contributors and supporters, and we will speak with our wallets. You also tend to say “it’s not personal, we appreciate what police officers and firefighters do for us…”

Well, when we take our business elsewhere, that’s not personal either. We just don’t feel the need to support those who don’t support us. When people ask for a restaurant recommendation, you can be sure I will tell them to avoid your “saloon.”  When I take my uniforms (and my wife takes her work clothes) to the dry cleaners, we will be sure to find a new laundry service. She will be sure to tell all her co-workers and clients to do the same. But please don’t take it personally!

Regarding the back-stabbing:  I personally walked door-to-door with political endorsements for you Jan Marx, Paul Brown, and Dave Romero. We as firefighters went out to the public that trusts us and recommended they vote for you. We supported you because you (Jan Marx) told us to our face that you would neither propose, nor support an attack on our binding arbitration that the citizens saw fit to give us 11 years ago.

The knife in my back is a symbol of your bold-face lies. I now understand it’s just politics, and it’s commonplace for politicians to lie more than ever these days.

That is why we don’t trust you to treat us fairly in negotiations, and why the public should not trust you to keep their best interests in mind. We negotiate for higher levels of service, not just benefits.

We are the public’s best advocates; we are here for our full career. You are only here for a two year stint, with a platform, a cause or in your case, Andrew, a crusade.

That brings me to my next point, Andrew Carter’s holy crusade. Yes, Andrew, we know your father was a minister and that whole “judging trees by their fruit thing.”

That’s cute, and I’m sure he would be proud of your evangelical prowess, getting so many sheep to follow you after getting them to drink your “kool-aid.” You remind me of Jim Bakker, Jimmy Swaggart, and all the other hypocritical, self-proclaimed leaders on a crusade.

With your misleading graphs, false statements, and campaign violations, you think you are going to save the City but you are really just attacking the middle-class employees of the City. In the process you are going to reduce the high-level of emergency services the public now benefits from. That CPR “save” we had recently near City Hall – that won’t happen when you have to “brown-out” Fire Station number 2.

I have a 4-year degree from Cal Poly, and I know my way around a spreadsheet. It’s easy to manipulate the graphs, choosing to start with “PERS holiday” dates, and tweaking numbers to make the graph show something dramatic. What about Monica (Maloney) Irons’ memo to the employees regarding the refinancing of our PERS employer contributions (see attached)? She went on record saying that the City would pay lower rates at the time (2004) to help with budget-balancing, but the rates would go up in the future (like an adjustable rate mortgage that was so popular then).

You mislead the public when you say that our “binding arbitration” is the reason pension costs have “skyrocketed.” First, they have not “skyrocketed”, they are only about 10 percent of the city’s budget, and it’s just not true that we are the sole reason for the actual increases.

Why don’t you mention this? Because you need to deceive people for votes.

Your mailer states that we don’t pay our share of Social Security. We don’t get Social Security!

Why would you list that as “Reason  number 5 to vote for Measure A? You are deceiving the public for votes.

You also lie when you say our police officers make more than those in LA City. You compare “apples to oranges” with this statement in an attempt to deceive (hiding the truth is also known as lying).

You also argue that our public safety officials make more than other cities in this county. Well, we are the biggest city in the county, and it is generally true that the larger the municipality, the higher the workload, responsibility, stress, and salary.

Isn’t this why you and your fellow council members took Ken Hampian’s salary (already handsome) and increased it significantly for Katie Lichtig?  Why, Andrew is it ok for the city of SLO to have the highest paid city Manager, but not ok to have the county’s highest paid “blue-collar” workers?

You can’t argue it both ways and maintain credibility.

Let’s mention credibility. You also state in your campaign that police and fire employees can retire at 50 years of age with over $100,000 pensions. You have chosen to not take actual statistics, but use the hypothetical, unrealistic “worst case” scenario. The reality is that very few of us actually cross the finish line at that level or without going out on a medical disability.
Our average starting age is not 20 but closer to 30. You don’t see many 60-year-old-firefighters cutting a hole on the roof above a fire (like I did for you recently, Paul Brown, when you came running out of your burning house shirtless and panicking).

Public safety is a young-man’s sport. Do you really want a 60-year police officer old trying to hop a fence to chase down a rapist or drug dealer?

Do you want a crippled old firefighter trying to throw a 58 pound ladder against your house while wearing 40 pounds of gear? Most people don’t.

Back to credibility, I just read the former police and fire chiefs’ letter in the Tribune. What hypocrisy! These two men must have amnesia, or that is some damn fine “kool-aid” you’ve brewed up. These two are drawing not only a $100,000 plus pension you are so upset about, but lifetime medical insurance as well. Plug those numbers into your little spreadsheet, and let’s see some costs “skyrocket.”

Former Chief Neuman with his lack of leadership, and non-support of his people is exactly why we fought for (and won) binding arbitration in the first place. Those $100,000 pensions that you say are hurting the city doe not belong to the “blue collar” workers, but management.

Again, you deceive for votes – whatever it takes to convert people to your crusade. Yes, your dad would be proud, Andrew. Praise the Lord.

Former Mayor Romero, you also have no credibility. Attached also is your justification of the pensions and salaries you presided over giving to us. That’s a complete 180 degree reversal you’ve done now that you’ve had the “kool-aid.”  Strong work.

We in public safety are not getting rich; we are making a “living wage.” You say we make too much. When you look at our hourly rate, I make under $26.00 per hour.

The only way I was able to afford a half-million dollar fixer-upper in this City was because my first house in the north county rode the roller coaster up and my timing was good. Many of my coworkers would love to live in the City, but can’t afford it. The homes here are just too expensive, and then the City charges so much on top of that.

The utility rates here are among the highest in the county, (oh, there’s that argument again). What, Andrew would you propose is a fair salary for what I do? I would venture to say that you don’t have a clue as to what I really do. Let me enlighten you with a few of my recent duties:

*When a 16-year old drunk driver center-punched a tree, I held his friend’s warm-blood soaked head in the car while we cut the car away from him. He took his last breaths as I lied to him and told him we would get him out and he would be OK. I drive by that intersection on Chorro Street every time I go to work or return home. I can’t get that out of my head, and it makes me sad every time I think about it.

*When a kid got hit by train near California and Foothill, I was the one who retrieved his foot (still in the sneaker). I can still visualize that grisly scene that made me wretch and nearly vomit.

*When a drunken college girl pulled up her skirt and sprayed diarrhea all over the Chamber of Commerce alcove on Chorro Street, I was on the crew that helped clean that up. By the way, Chamber folks, you’re welcome!

*When a psych patient recently released from ASH decided to use a razor blade to cut off his genitals, I was the one left behind that had to fish from the trash can his penis and testicles for transport to the ER for possible re-attachment. Would you do that for $26 per hour?

I’ve been in the fire service locally since 1990 and with the City of SLO for nearly 10 years.  I have lots of stories that would disgust you, but I won’t go on. As horrifying and grotesque as this job can be, it is still the best job in the world. Not because I am making a decent wage, but because I love having kids who come to see us because they want to be firemen. I love making a difference when that 911 caller is having the worst day of his or her life.  I like being the one they call to solve their problem.

I am not the greedy, overpaid, selfish public enemy you have made me out to be. I do not deserve to get “flipped off” as I drive the city’s fire engine to emergencies in town but thanks to you, that is now my reality. Several of us have witnessed your “converts,” Andrew, and we’re very disappointed.

Yes, this is a divisive issue, and yes, we all trip up or make mistakes once in a while. We should however, be truthful with the public and not try to use our positions as public servants or elected officials to deceive them.

Well, I could go on, but I think I’ve made my points. Win or lose, I will go on doing the job I love, and knowing that it is only your vocal, misguided minority who has signed on to your cause. Most intelligent citizens know they can trust firemen and policemen far more than the lying, back-stabbing, political zealots sitting on the City Council, and their “kool-aid-drinking” minions, the “Concerned Citizens for SLO.” But, of course, nothing personal!

Sincerely, and with all due respect, Rob Farino, a San Luis Obispo firefighter

Monica’s Memo (scribd)

Romero Letter (scribd)


217 Comments

  1. rogerfreberg says:

    There was only 1 California Senator who voted AGAINST the transparency bill that would effectively let the public and the media view what is going on behind the scenes in our University’s Foundations. Can You guess which California Senator this is???

    http://www.sacbee.com/votingrecord/?legislator-name=&bill=SB8&since=2010-12-01

    The question I have is a simple one… does Cal Poly Have anything to hide?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 3

  2. Bob says:

    As of the last public Talley by the County Clerk-Recorder at 8:07pm 8/30/11 with 42% of the ballots counted.

    Yes on A: 74.16%
    Yes on B: 72.81%

    I think it’s safe to call it.
    YES On A & B is the apparent Winner.

    It’s a good start for the taxpayers and government accountability.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 18 Thumb down 0

  3. unclebeerman says:

    I have been following this topic for several days. The discussion seems to get way off track by both sides. This is about binding arbitration. No more, no less. I think the majority of citizens have no problem paying a fair wage for the services of police & fire. For me the issue is this… If we expect government to control spending we need to make sure they have the ability to do it.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 24 Thumb down 2

    • MaryMalone says:

      UncleB, whether or not the discussion is “way off track” is a very subjective call.

      For instance, I don’t think we can discuss A and B without acknowledging the fact that the SLOCity firefighters have taken a terrible standing-in-the-community by the actions of John Ryan Mason, his chief, his union reps, and the SLOCity PD, the latter three being involved in the very preferential and negligent handling of Mason’s nearly fatal attack on a private citizen in a bar.

      For those who know about it, it is going to have an impact on how they vote, one way or the other. I don’t see how such a significant event–especially when Mason has a history of violently attacking citizens–can NOT have an impact on the outcome of A and B.

      Likewise, a discussion topic for John Ryan Mason will very likely have discussion on A and B.

      There are going to be some people that think that firefighters are more than adequately compensated, considering how they are able to commit nearly fatal attacks on citizens and then be carried around on a sedan chair by the very people who should be standing up and condemning Mason’s actions.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 6

  4. stopagenda21 says:

    I wonder what happened to all the brand new vehicles parked on roundhouse next to the fire station with the NO on A + B signs ?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 25 Thumb down 3

    • LAFireman says:

      As I sat in the recliner returning from my 57th call in 3 days this morning I wanted to comment on Rob’s letter. Yet I decided I was too tired and too dirty to take off my turnouts, shower up and climb into my bunk, I elected to try and squeeze in a 15 min nap instead of writing a sleep deprived, rambling letter. I am one of the “ L.A. Fireman “ that is being used as a measuring stick against San Luis City Firefighter’s.

      Once the daylight broke I packed up my car after running 3 more calls and began the 185-mile trek home. This was an opportunity for me to not only reflect on the comments slamming Rob’s character but the Entire Fire Service in general. I found it only fitting that I respond in the same comforts that everyone else has; on the beautiful Central Coast, without fear of major crime, traffic, gangs, drugs and our beautiful 72 degree weather. This is not a letter defending Mr. Farino’s $26 dollar an hour wage, his decent retirement, or San Luis Fire Department’s ability to keep collective bargaining. He makes a wage to support his family in the San Luis Obispo area and gives him the opportunity to live in the community in which he serves. This is in Response against the attacks that have been made against Firefighters and Police on Cal Coast News, Tribune and the Dave Congalton show and the job they do. As most of you sit behind a computer screen in the safety of your work place or home and attack our local public servants as being overpaid, under-worked, and then blamed to be the the root of so many of the City’s financial problems, I would like you to realize you are attacking your first and last line of defense against the cancerous abuse of the public health care system that riddles many area’s today. I know what you’re thinking; that could never happen here, we’re immune from the problems occuring “down south”. Tell that to the fine tax paying citizens of Lennox, Watts, San Bernardino, Moreno Valley and East Palmdale just to name a few cities I have served and I will continue to provide excellent service for the next 20 years. They too were once immune to the abuse, yet now riddled with the problems that everyone here living in San Luis Obispo has come up to escape. If this comment seems foreign to you, pack up the kids and take a vacation, not to Hawaii, or the Grand Canyon, yet spend some time in the communities you would hope not to be forced to get off the freeway and get gas on your way to Orange County or Palm Springs. If you need pay per hour hotel recommendations let me know, I’m sure most San Luis Obispo residents will need no more than that to understand my point. Call me cynical or a little jaded, but you can not say I don’t have first hand experience of being a fireman, which most of the people here making these comments lack. Mr. Farino is the type of person you want in defense of these problems; he seems educated, eloquent and very passionate about his job. One day, in the not so distant future, as our precious community changes and our way becomes threatened, like so many others have, you’ll gladly pay him or anyone else $26 dollars an hour to come to your aid. I can promise you San Luis Obispo’s call volume will go up, you will need and want our Police and Fire services. So I respectfully beg to you be careful towards the hateful and ignorant stones being thrown towards the ones sworn to protect YOU. Please value our Police and Fire Departments. As the old saying goes; were not paid on a daily basis for what we do; but for what we are willing to do!

      Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 16 Thumb down 32

      • Mjd says:

        Thank you for what you do.

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 7

        • Mjd says:

          why are people so hard or the firemen and cops and not the city? No one complains about the police

          Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 7

      • stopagenda21 says:

        But for what we are willing to
        http://www.allsafedefense.com/news/CopsDontProtect.htmdo

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 2

        • stopagenda21 says:

          Sorry link may not work look for the 2005 supreme court decision Castle Rock v. Gonzales

          Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 1

      • Bugcatcher says:

        LA FIreman,

        You are paid to respond to “ALL RISK” emergency incidents 24/7. Firefighters do not have a choice, (your last sentence “but for what we are willing to do”), we are paid to react professionally and competently to handle any emergency when the alarm sounds.

        Get some rest and stay safe !!

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 19 Thumb down 0

      • mkaney says:

        I’m sitting here wondering if I just completely misread what you posted LAFireman. It sounds like you were implying, in a veiled sort of way, that public servants/city employees stand between us and some kind of spreading chaos, some kind of embodiment of evil, that abuses the healthcare system… perhaps clogging the waiting room of the emergency department.

        You know what this sounds like, right? It sounds like some kind of fascist fairy tale view of reality. I find it frightening, and I think you have a twisted view of reality. I think you may actually need some professional help, and pray to god that should I ever need help, that I am not somewhere that you show up.

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 22 Thumb down 7

        • MaryMalone says:

          It sounds like a cheap scare tactic to me, and it is the last thing we should be hearing from a first responder.

          Like or Dislike: Thumb up 13 Thumb down 5

      • Crusader says:

        I don’t have a great deal of respect for public safety employees who don’t live in (or at least very near) the communities who pay their wages.

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 6

        • oldbrown says:

          In the past, public safety entities have attempted to dictate where their employees can live. It didn’t work then and it won’t work now. If you were a cop, would you really want to live in the same community with people you’ve arrested? Cop’s aren’t stupid and they live in other communities in order for their families to feel safe when they’re on duty. It’s as simple as that.

          Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 3

        • MaryMalone says:

          It doesn’t matter to me where our firefighters, police and deupties live, one way or the other.

          My brother-in-law is a retired LA County Deputy Sheriff. He lived in Santa Clarita and then Alta Loma during his time with the Sheriff’s Department.

          I didn’t perceive where he lived as having anything to do with how well he did his job. He was born in Oklahoma, and he would not have been an LA County Deputy Sheriff if he had to live in Los Angeles. He was just a good old country boy, and he needed space for his horse.

          Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 1

      • Ugluk says:

        LAFireman,
        We are not slamming Rob Farino’s character, but rather his lack thereof, as displayed in the poison-pen letter he tried to pawn off as an opinion piece. Also, you again make a false equivalency between legitimate discussion and “attacking” firefighters and police.

        Also, are you trying to say that if we criticize public safety officials/pass A & B, we will end up like Watts? Sorry, I don’t see the correlation. Ease up on the hysteria please.

        The “hateful and ignorant stones being thrown” (i.e. legitimate criticisms) are a natural human response to the Morro Rock of vituperation Mr. Farino hurled at the very people who pay his salary (i.e. taxpayers). Remember, respect cannot be demanded, it can only be earned. If Rob Farino wants the respect of his community, he needs to behave respectably.

        I respect public safety personnel; it is not disrespectful that in these difficult times they be asked to tighten their belts and cut costs just like the rest of us.

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 24 Thumb down 1

    • Mjd says:

      are they gone? They didn’t look new to me

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 7

  5. avidgonadnote says:

    I think Rob needs to get off this website and get back to work. Isn’t there a fire engine to polish somewhere? Oh, and what happened to Stacey Ward as the editor of CCN? Bill Loving from Cal Poly? Perhaps a small story by CCN to explain the changes since George’s untimely death is in order?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 15 Thumb down 2

    • LAFireman says:

      As I sat in the recliner returning from my 57th call in 3 days this morning I wanted to comment on Rob’s letter. Yet I decided I was too tired and too dirty to take off my turnouts, shower up and climb into my bunk I elected to try and squeeze in 15 min nap instead of writing a sleep deprived, rambling letter. I am one of the “ L.A. Fireman “ that is being used as a measuring stick against San Luis City Firefighter’s.

      Once the daylight broke I packed up my car after running 3 more calls and began the 185-mile trek home. This was an opportunity for me to not only reflect on the comments slamming Rob’s character but the Entire Fire Service in general. I found it only fitting that I respond in the same comforts that everyone else has; on the beautiful Central Coast, without fear of major crime, traffic, gangs, drugs and our beautiful 72 degree weather. This is not a letter defending whether Mr. Farino’s $26 dollar an hour wage, his decent retirement, or San Luis Fire Department’s ability to keep collective bargaining. He makes a wage to support his family in the San Luis Obispo area and gives him the opportunity to live in the community in which he serves. This is in Response against the attacks that have been made against Firefighters and Police on Cal Coast News, Tribune and the Dave Congalton show and the job they do. As most of you sit behind a computer screen in the safety of your home and attack our local public servants as being overpaid, under-worked and the root of so many of the City’s financial problems, I would like you to realize you are attacking your first and last line of defense against the cancerous abuse of the public heath care system that riddles many area’s today. I know what you’re thinking; it will never happen here, we’re immune from the problems of “down south”. Tell that to the fine tax paying citizens of Lennox, Watts, San Bernardino, Moreno Valley and East Palmdale just to name a few all cities I have served. They were too, once immune from the abuse now riddled with the problems that everyone that lives in San Luis Obispo has come up delete up to escape. If this comment seems foreign to you, pack up the kids and take a vacation, no not to Hawaii, or the Grand Canyon, spend some time in the communities you hope not to get off the freeway and get gas, on your way to Orange County or Palm Springs. Call me cynical, jaded, unrealistic, but do not say I don’t have first hand experience of being a fireman, which most of the people making these comments lack. Mr. Farino is the type of person you want in defense of these problems, he seems educated, eloquent and very passionate about his job, and one day when our community and way of life begins to change as is threatened, like so many others have, you’ll gladly pay him or anyone else $26 dollars an hour to come to your aid. I can promise you San Luis Obispo’s call volume will go up, you will need our Police and Fire, so be careful towards the hateful and ignorant stones you throw at the ones sworn to protect you and value our Police and Fire Departments.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 11

    • Ugluk says:

      @LA Fireman
      I respect public safety officials. However, just because a person happens to be a police officer or firefighter does not mean that they are somehow beyond criticism. Any valid point made by Mr. Farino in his letter has been obscured by his tone of bigotry, rage, and contempt toward the very people he is supposed to be serving. Also, it is not unreasonable to expect that in hard economic times government will cut personnel or streamline services. It’s quite simple, really: unemployment and underemployment are rampant; therefore less tax money comes in, and so there must be cuts. People espousing this point of view do not hate law enforcement or safety officers; they are simply trying to respond to an unfortunate situation the best way they know how.

      The anger expressed by many people commenting here is in response to the “diarrhea” Mr. Farino splattered on all of us when he decided to vent. I’m sure most of the people here are reasonable folks, but were someone to walk up and slap them in the face, there likely would be a heated response. I’m sure you can understand then why it is that when Mr. Farino began to attack and insult the very people who pay his wages (i.e. taxpayers) there was some anger expressed. It’s like kicking a beehive and then being surprised when you get stung.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 1

  6. Turquoise says:

    You make several interesting points, Rob. I wish I’d read this before I sent in my vote. I might have voted No on B, or at least looked into a little more deeply. I’m deeply concerned that corporations and government’s well-paid managers are doing all they can to weaken unions, which is helpful to the very wealthy but very harmful to an unwary public.

    Not sure why so many people on Cal Coast News are all in a huff about your article. There’s a streak of self-rightous running through many people who post on forums like this, and in some cases downright viciousness.

    You are obviously experienced and hardworking, and your family’s business and employees have contributed to the local economy for many years.

    It seems to me that many here have misinterpreted your point that where people spend their money does indeed support someone’s business or job, whether it’s someone here in town or someone in China.

    I think you’re right about Carter’s holier-than-thou presentation. I like and support Jan Marx, but she has been savaged by Cal Coast Newsies as well, and Karen Velie has lost my respect for the very slanted article she wrote recently about Jan. Same with good old Dave C, who defends the huckster Glenn Beck because he makes money for the radio station, despite Beck’s obvious lies and lack of honorable discourse.

    On the other hand, there’s a definite arrogance that many firefighters project, and that’s a bigger problem over the long haul than you writing your thoughts and defending yourself against this onslaught of negative response.

    I hope you get to see my comment before CCN hides it or deletes it because it’s unpopular. They like to ride the waves of their readers’ indignation du jour.

    Folks, you need to save all this huff and puff for the real injustices.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 16 Thumb down 47

    • slofrmn says:

      Well said and thank you. I usually don’t get sucked into anonymous posting like this, but I felt obligated since I started this little dust-storm. It’s easy to hide behind an anonymous label and lob your comments. At least I didn’t hide in anonymity and had the guts to say what needed to be said. I admit it was a bit harsh, but there were some points to be made too. Still haven’t heard answers to those points, though. At this point, people aren’t concerned with facts and truth. The pitchforks are out, the torches are lit, and the voting is all but done. Regardless of where the chips fall, we will all continue to perform our duties to the citizens of this fine City with the utmost care, compassion, dignity, professionalism and pride that we always have. We are still the ones you will hopefully never have to call, but if you do, you will be able to count on us to do without hesitation. Politics aside, we have always been here for you, and we always will be. I am thankful for my job, for my brothers, and for this great Country in which I live. I also appreciate the freedom of speech guaranteed by the 1st amendment.

      Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 14 Thumb down 36

      • Jill Harris says:

        http://youtu.be/Ar2gvXAUA4c

        Watch this video if you are still undecided on weather to vote yes or no on Measures A and B.

        Its not a hard choice once you really think about the future because there will be no future if we
        don’t change our spending habits. Our whole country has a spending problem and on 31st of this month we must draw a line in the sand and say YES on Measures A and B. This will be a very
        small step toward a brighter future for all of us.

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 25 Thumb down 9

      • Mjd says:

        I don’t see why some people have a problem with this letter it was a very well written. And had truth to it. Some may have not liked his stories about what hes seen or been through. Well I’m sure he’ed rather have not seen the things he saw. How about we thank the men and women who put there life on the line for us instead of picking on them. I think we should all take a walk in there shoes for a day and see and do what these guys do then maybe we would understand better. Last but not least why isn’t the city cutting back any of there salaries? I think everyone should try and work together. Thanks for reading my letter and thanks to the fireman who have taken the time to talk to me in the past. Mjd

        Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 14 Thumb down 29

        • SLO Citizen says:

          Tell me more about how SLO firefighers are “putting there (sic) life on the line.” Every time I see a firetruck race down the street, lights and siren ablaze, I look up in the sky, furtively searching for smoke … which always seems to allude me. That’s because they’re responding to a medical aid. Where is the danger in that? Not much work for them either, considering that a minimum of two ambulance personnel in addition to the half dozen firefighters are on scene for the care of one patient. Care, mind you, that lasts only long enough to load the patient onto a gurney and drive to the nearest emergency department where the definitive care takes place. (Interesting how an emergency department can be staffed with as few as one physician and two nurses which provide care for numerous emergency patients at one time, yet it requires eight first responders, an ambulance and firetruck to provide five minutes of prehospital care and a ride to the hospital.)

          Entering a burning building that is about to collapse to rescue someone is another story. I’ll give them credit for that. But really, how many times in a year will SLO fire fighters find themselves in that situation?

          Getting back to those medical aids … if Rob thinks he deserves a medal for picking up the occasional severed body part or being exposed to body fluids, what do the physicians, nurses, respiratory therapists, x-ray technicians, phlebotomists, and other hospital personnel that provide the definitive care for those same patients deserve?

          As for taking a walk in the shoes of a firefighter for a day, I’d love to tag along with them – for $25/hr. – when they park the fire truck in the red zone in front of First Bank so they can sip coffee and chat with the ladies at Peet’s, work out at Kennedy Multplex, make Jamba Juice runs, chat with the ladies at farmer’s market …

          As Oldbrown so acurately stated, SLO firefighters have it pretty darn good. I would have much more respect for them if they would cease with their “lives on the line” and “I’ve seen horrible things” pity play rhetoric, and instead display humble gratitude for what they have.

          Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 30 Thumb down 11

          • zaphod says:

            The red zones are to be kept clear for emergency vehicles I am totally fine with firemen parking in the red zone firemen heh

            Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 15

            • slocorruptionhater says:

              The white zone is for immediate loading and unloading of passengers only. There is no stopping in the red zone.

              Like or Dislike: Thumb up 14 Thumb down 0

          • robert piatt says:

            The first few minutes someone is in a life threatening situation can be the most critical! When EMT, Paramedic, Firefighter and Police show up to a scene it is all for different reasons (obviously the main one being saving the life). Most Firefighters by the way are either EMT’s or Paramedics (requiring more schooling and certificates, something people usually get paid more for doing in their jobs!) Doctors, surgeons, do an amazing job in continuing patient care, but they also get paid very well for what they do!
            Nowhere in this article did I see anything about how firefighters are better than a doctor or a nurse or whatever it is you’re rambling on about. Just be happy that someone has the heart and courage to WANT to save people like you who don’t appreciate the things they do on a day to day basis!
            Obviously you did not list your occupation here, but I can only assume by your words that you have never had to respond to a traffic accident where there are multiple casualties, and while you are trying to extract the one living person (let’s say the 3 year old who just lost both her parents) there are still cars flying by you at high speeds, not paying attention to driving, but the accident instead. It seems a bit more likely that your quote about how “That’s because they’re responding to a medical aid. Where is the danger in that? ” has now become a liiiiiiitle more dangerous.
            Well…. Thank god we have our local police officers to help block traffic and slow people down, helping the firefighters stay safe while trying to save that 3 year old who will now grow up without parents!
            I understand that reading this scenario may seem a bit extreme, but it’s not. It happens all the time and to someone I know personally! I know that I am grateful for what these men and women do and are willing to do (retrieve a penis and testicles out of the trash, when CLEARLY the guy didn’t want them) every day. And YES I’m okay with them using those designated spots to get some coffee or Jamba Juice, both are delicious!

            Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 4

            • MaryMalone says:

              I used to do QA for sensitive confidential hospital medical records. If I was a FF, I would be very concerned about contracting a disease from someone I was rescuing and/or treating. There have been first-responders who have acquired HIV, hepatitis and other communicable diseases in the line of duty.

              Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 3

          • Mjd says:

            whats so wrong with them going to jamba juice. What would you like them to be doing instead?

            Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 13

        • oldbrown says:

          Mjd,
          I’m one of the people that had a problem with Farino’s letter and I don’t agree with you that it was well written. For one thing, he frequently used the word “we” as if he was representing a group rather than just himself. Then he complained about getting “flipped off” which is no big deal. What is a big deal is when some driver’s purposely slow down in front of us and try to impede our progress to a call. Flipping us off never bothered me but someone trying to slow us down getting to a “baby not breathing” call is quite different. I think Mr. Farino is hyper-sensitive.

          Mr. Farino’s story about cleaning up after the girl was quite a stretch. Mr. Farino is an Engineer so most likely he pumped water to the hose reel and either his Captain or other FF’s washed down the mess, not him. Either way, it was a simple call to wash down a doorway and certainly wasn’t memorable, except to Mr. Farino.

          Also, Mr. Farino’s comments about all he goes through for $26 an hour. What he failed to mention are the shifts when he’s working overtime and he goes through all that stuff for $39 an hour. He’s quoting straight time shifts but doesn’t mention overtime shifts. Put another way, he earns about $625 for each of his scheduled shifts each month and $936 for each overtime shift. He works 10 shifts a month so his monthly salary is somewhere in the range of $6250. If he works a couple of overtime shifts he’ll easily be over $7,000 a month.

          I’m only pointing this out because Mr. Farino, in his letter, made a big deal about the “truth”.

          Like or Dislike: Thumb up 22 Thumb down 4

          • Crusader says:

            Why did the SLOFD even respond to a “diarrhea on the wall” call? Then again they probably weren’t doing anything else…

            Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 3

          • Ugluk says:

            The funny part of Farino’s complaint about the diarrhea is that anyone who has raised children has probably cleaned up diarrhea on multiple occasions, and parents don’t get paid $26.00/hr for the service.

            YES ON A & B!

            Like or Dislike: Thumb up 19 Thumb down 2

            • MaryMalone says:

              Yeah, but you know what diseases your own kids have. Not so with other people’s kids.

              Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 5

          • Bugcatcher says:

            Old Brown,

            I have read your responses back to Mr. Farino and others. You are right on point. I was also fortunate enough to have worked a 32 year fire service career proudly serving the citizens of California. If Mr. Farino had been working for me and as his supervisor, I would have actively pursued disciplinary proceedings against him. He has gone beyond what he percieves as his “Freedom of Speech” rights. All public safety / government officials are expected and held to a higher standard than the general public both on and off duty. Apparently, Mr. Farino never understood the lesson about, “don’t bite the hand that feeds you”.

            Enjoy your well deserved retirement !!

            Like or Dislike: Thumb up 22 Thumb down 5

            • oldbrown says:

              Bugcatcher,

              I completely agree with your comments. Farino should count his lucky stars that he wasn’t on our crew. Enjoy your retirement too.

              Like or Dislike: Thumb up 19 Thumb down 3

      • MaryMalone says:

        1. I don’t have a clue who you are, based on your screen-name. To me, you are as anonymous as PismoBob is.

        2. Unless they have private security staff, anyone who posts under their own name is taking a risk. Internet security organizations strongly advise that one not use their real name, and not give out information that makes it possible for others to find out where they live.

        3. If you want others to answer specific points, you’ll need to post a link to where you made those points.

        4. At this point, the firefighters who have posted here have not done much good for their cause. Indeed, if anything, it makes many people less sympathetic to firefighters in general. I know this is not fair, but that is just how people are, even if they try to keep the bad apples separated from the good ones, especially when we have been exposed to the bad apples of late, and have not heard any formal statement from the SLOFD regarding their stance on what John Ryan Mason did.

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

      • MaryMalone says:

        Dude, your opinion piece, about which you appear to be very proud, reads like it was done by someone who had way too much to drink….in fact, so much to drink that he decided to post publicly a wandering rant that really should not have seen the light of day.

        You have not only harmed your own career, but you have made the rest of the City firefighters look bad, as well. And your fire chief…what did he do to deserve this?

        Worse, you’ve done damage to the campaign to take away your rights for collective bargaining. While your attitude towards the public that pays your salary may make your contributions to the City’s firefighters’ efforts unworthy, but probably most of the rest of the gang DO deserve the collective bargaining benefit.

        The uproar over Mason had just started to wind down, and here you come along and get folks angry again.

        Are you actually working for the other side? Because, believe me, your opinion piece and your posts are doing far more for their cause than it does for the city firefighters.

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

    • Moderator says:

      While I appreciate your thoughtful reply and conversational tone (you have no idea how appreciated I am ;-)
      the paranoid projection in you closing remarks,I hope you get to see my comment before CCN hides it or deletes it because it’s unpopular
      so to spell it out for you again the voting software we use hides unpopular comments and highlights popular comments NO ONE AT CCN HIDES YOUR COMMENTS or wishes to
      .We frown on personal attacks on comment authors or editors, especially by “anonymous” accounts. The editors care what you think, but only to a point.
      For the most part, commenting is an opportunity for readers to quickly react to our stories via a community conversation.
      thank you

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 13 Thumb down 1

      • Turquoise says:

        Paranoid projection charge noted. I don’t remember Moderator telling this anonymous account that it’s the voting software CCN uses that hides comments, but thanks for the clarification. I do remember being told that software glitches were responsible for a few comments and an entire account that disappeared.

        PS: I think you meant to say …how appreciative I am ;-) but either way, I do appreciate CCN and even donated in the early days.

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 1

    • Turquoise says:

      When I wrote this yesterday, I thought an earlier post said Rob’s wife owns Bladerunner in SLO. I couldn’t find that post now, but I checked the salon’s website and unless Rob’s wife goes by Ted or Stephen, Bladerunner is not their business. I don’t know what their business is, and can’t comment on how it contributes to the local economy.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 2

    • LAFireman says:

      As I sat in the recliner returning from my 57th call in 3 days this morning I wanted to comment on Rob’s letter. Yet I decided I was too tired and too dirty to take off my turnouts, shower up and climb into my bunk I elected to try and squeeze in 15 min nap instead of writing a sleep deprived, rambling letter. I am one of the “ L.A. Fireman “ that is being used as a measuring stick against San Luis City Firefighter’s.

      Once the daylight broke I packed up my car after running 3 more calls and began the 185-mile trek home. This was an opportunity for me to not only reflect on the comments slamming Rob’s character but the Entire Fire Service in general. I found it only fitting that I respond in the same comforts that everyone else has; on the beautiful Central Coast, without fear of major crime, traffic, gangs, drugs and our beautiful 72 degree weather. This is not a letter defending whether Mr. Farino’s $26 dollar an hour wage, his decent retirement, or San Luis Fire Department’s ability to keep collective bargaining. He makes a wage to support his family in the San Luis Obispo area and gives him the opportunity to live in the community in which he serves. This is in Response against the attacks that have been made against Firefighters and Police on Cal Coast News, Tribune and the Dave Congalton show and the job they do. As most of you sit behind a computer screen in the safety of your home and attack our local public servants as being overpaid, under-worked and the root of so many of the City’s financial problems, I would like you to realize you are attacking your first and last line of defense against the cancerous abuse of the public heath care system that riddles many area’s today. I know what you’re thinking; it will never happen here, we’re immune from the problems of “down south”. Tell that to the fine tax paying citizens of Lennox, Watts, San Bernardino, Moreno Valley and East Palmdale just to name a few all cities I have served. They were too, once immune from the abuse now riddled with the problems that everyone that lives in San Luis Obispo has come up delete up to escape. If this comment seems foreign to you, pack up the kids and take a vacation, no not to Hawaii, or the Grand Canyon, spend some time in the communities you hope not to get off the freeway and get gas, on your way to Orange County or Palm Springs. Call me cynical, jaded, unrealistic, but do not say I don’t have first hand experience of being a fireman, which most of the people making these comments lack. Mr. Farino is the type of person you want in defense of these problems, he seems educated, eloquent and very passionate about his job, and one day when our community and way of life begins to change as is threatened, like so many others have, you’ll gladly pay him or anyone else $26 dollars an hour to come to your aid. I can promise you San Luis Obispo’s call volume will go up, you will need our Police and Fire, so be careful towards the hateful and ignorant stones you throw at the ones sworn to protect you and value our Police and Fire Departments.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 16

      • Ugluk says:

        LA Fireman,
        I respect public safety officials. However, just because a person happens to be a police officer or firefighter does not mean that they are somehow beyond criticism. Any valid point made by Mr. Farino in his letter has been obscured by his tone of bigotry, rage, and contempt toward the very people he is supposed to be serving. Also, it is not unreasonable to expect that in hard economic times government will cut personnel or streamline services. It’s quite simple, really: unemployment and underemployment are rampant; therefore less tax money comes in, and so there must be cuts. People espousing this point of view do not hate law enforcement or safety officers; they are simply trying to respond to an unfortunate situation the best way they know how.

        The anger expressed by many people commenting here is in response to the “diarrhea” Mr. Farino splattered on all of us when he decided to vent. I’m sure most of the people here are reasonable folks, but were someone to walk up and slap them in the face, there likely would be a heated response. I’m sure you can understand then why it is that when Mr. Farino began to attack and insult the very people who pay his wages (i.e. taxpayers) there was some anger expressed. It’s like kicking a beehive and then being surprised when you get stung.

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 16 Thumb down 1

      • Bugcatcher says:

        LA Fireman,

        I worked the So. Cal enviroment for years and understand your situation, the call volume is unbelievable. Of those three days you worked, assuming you are on a three platoon shift / system, at least one of those days should / would have been overtime which is usually voluntary. You are very fortunate to work for a busy Class #1 Fire Dept. and live in the “Happiest Place On Earth”. As for the attacks on police and fire on this thread / postings, they were totally perpetuated by Mr. Farino himself. Did he think his “open letter” was going to be some type of “shock and awe”, no he just came across as an over entitled, whiny public safety / civil servant, which is an embarrassment to our noble profession. Do you see any other SLO City FF or the Chief defending his letter, absolutely not, because he is wrong, plain and simple. Read the 150 + comments, they are not favorable towards his cause. Please get some rest and stay safe in your busy job !!

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 13 Thumb down 0

    • MaryMalone says:

      Oh, heavens. CCN is one of the least-censored message boards I’ve encountered on the internet. IMO, they don’t censor for opinion.

      They do have a few rules. The one that some people are more apt to break is the one forbidding personal attacks on other posters.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

    • MaryMalone says:

      QUOTING TURQUOISE: I think you’re right about Carter’s holier-than-thou presentation. I like and support Jan Marx, but she has been savaged by Cal Coast Newsies as well, and Karen Velie has lost my respect for the very slanted article she wrote recently about Jan.

      Which of the following articles do you believe are “savaging” Jan Marx? In my opinion, reporting the truth isn’t “savaging.” If you have issues with what was reported, then perhaps you might want to approach Ms. Marx about it. Without her actions, there would be no story to report, no?

      I don’t have the time to list all of the alleged conflicts of interest and other improprieties by Jan Marx that are in CCN articles, but if you can correct any of them, please do. Otherwise, please don’t knock the hard work of a journalist who, in order to put together a complicated chain-of-events/emails article, had to pick through the fetid detritus Jan Marx has left in her wake.

      ———————

      SLO Mayor admits her role in anti-Dalidio development campaign
      http://calcoastnews.com/2011/01/slo-mayor-admits-her-role-in-anti-dalidio-development-campaign/

      January 11, 2011

      By LISA RIZZO

      San Luis Obispo Mayor Jan Marx answered more questions Monday following a CalCoastNews exclusive report, published last week, which revealed her involvement in the closely guarded campaign to prevent the development of Ernie Dalidio’s 131 acres of San Luis Obispo farmland.

      The CalCoastNews report, titled “State probe casts a shadow on new San Luis Obispo mayor,” exposed the detailed California Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC) investigation and supporting documentation into the funneling of cash and gifts into the anti-Dalidio campaign, where the state commission fined the major campaign sponsors for 16 illegal maneuvers.

      The newly-elected mayor requested the interview and its response on the terms that it would be handled in writing. She later requested that her response be noted on CalCoastNews…….

      ———————————

      Marx’s own emails belie prior claims
      http://calcoastnews.com/2011/05/marx%E2%80%99s-own-emails-belie-prior-claims/

      May 17, 2011

      By KAREN VELIE and DANIEL BLACKBURN

      San Luis Obispo Mayor Jan Marx, by her own admission in a series of emails, was a key player in an illegal campaign aimed at torpedoing a development project proposed by rancher Ernie Dalidio — something she has repeatedly denied.
      Marx’s reference to herself as “vice president” of Citizens for Planning Responsibly (CPR) is contained in emails to other members, copies of which were obtained by the news website KCCN.tv last month.
      The emails show Marx was active in her leadership role through July 2008, aside from a few months she sat aside to run for a seat on the San Luis Obispo City Council.
      Then, after her subsequent mayoral election, she successfully advocated and endorsed a land use ordinance intended to restrict Dalidio’s use of his land, if he were to annex to the city. And while Marx noted her knowledge of agricultural land use issues during council discussions, she failed to inform her fellow council members or the public of her pivotal role in the anti-Dalidio campaign and possible conflict of interest.
      Last October, the California Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC) levied $80,000 in fines against Tom and Jim Copeland and banker David Booker for 16 campaign violations in their secretive battle against Dalidio’s project, proposed for south of the Madonna Plaza shopping center…..
      In an email she allegedly sent Feb. 19, 2008, she announced plans to run for San Luis Obispo City Council, and noted she needed to hand off some of her CPR leadership duties while she ran her campaign.
      “This is not confidential, but I will be making the formal media announcement next week,” Marx says in the email. “I will need to hand off some of my CPR tasks (Suzanne?) and step down as vice president in the next few months, after the fundraiser. I will keep tabs on the litigation, however.” (Suzanne Fryer was legal counsel for the Copelands and a member of CPR during the campaign against Dalidio’s development.)
      In an email dated May 20, 2007, Marx asks recipients to tailor her message “as they wish” before sending it as their own to members of the San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors. The message asks the board to vote against providing any public funds for the proposed Prado Road interchange. That infrastructure would be necessary if Dalidio was to include larger stores such as Target in the development.
      Marx’s leadership role in the group is further supported by several emails she sent to group leaders such as attorney Suzanne Fryer, Richard Kranzdorf, and Michael Sullivan, informing them of the activities of CPR attorneys. Those activities included trying to get a judge to rule that the voter-approved initiative allowing Dalidio to build his shopping mall was not legal.
      In one email disseminated prior to a public meeting, Marx suggested that Rosemary Wilvert, a spokesperson for the group, provide talking points for Sullivan to distribute to speakers before the meeting.
      On June 12, 2008, Marx replied to an email from Carol Rich who wondered if CPR should use the donor list of Adam Hill, then a candidate for a county supervisor’s seat.
      “It seems to me not to be a good idea to ask either Jim (Patterson) or Adam for their lists, since they will be sitting supervisors when this project will likely come up,” Marx says in the email. “This could make it look like they are prejudiced against the developer, ect. . . .”
      Contacted recently, Hill said he is opposed to planning through the ballot process, but he is not opposed to Dalido developing his property, and does not view the land as valuable open space because it is already hemmed in by development.
      Patterson did not respond to requests for comment.
      Nevertheless, it appears Marx does not think her involvement in the anti-Dalidio campaign is a perceived conflict of interest…..

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

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