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)







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217 Comments

  1. isoslo says:

    Rob you sound bitter. If you decide to leave for another job in another town I completely understand and would have no hard feelings toward you. In fact you would probably be happier in the long run. Then the city could replace you with someone who understands the balance between paying a few people well versus the need to put the city’s limited resources to the best possible use for the benefit of all it’s citizens.

    (18) 30 Total Votes - 24 up - 6 down
  2. willie says:

    I am really mixed up about A & B.
    Some of the Fire Engineers claim that people flip the finger at them.
    I DO NOT BELIEVE THIS FOR A MOMENT, NOT IN SLO, NEVER SEEN IT, I AM VERY OBSERVANT!!!
    Even in LA Watts, no thug flip the finger at firemen, they are universally respected.
    Some of the Fire Engineers claim that people flip the finger at them, and say it EMOTIONALLY distract or affect their dedication to their job.
    NOW WHO IS SENSATIONALIZING BETWEEN YOU AND THE CITY COUNCIL?
    GO FIND ANOTHER JOB, IF IT AFFECTS YOU, YOU CANNOT BE TRUSTED, YOUR JOB PASSION FOR THE IS JUST BS LEVERAGE!
    It is a shame you fortunate young kids cannot see yourself and the hard times surrounding the world, your arrogant and don’t know it.
    The duties of a Safety Officer is close to that of a Church Pastor or physician and none of you have demonstracted anything near or close to that.
    GO FIND ANOTHER JOB!
    In LA I respect the fire engineers and highly disrespect the cops.
    In SLO I highly respect the LEO here and somewhat apprehensive of the fire engineers!

    (-4) 18 Total Votes - 7 up - 11 down
    • slofrmn says:

      Willie, let me try to understand you. Please clarify your statment “The duties of a Safety Officer is close to that of a Church Pastor or physician…”

      I’m not sure I follow. It that because as a Pastor you are fighting the devil and the flames of hell, and we are fighting the dragon and flames here on earth? I’m not sure what the duties of a Pastor might be, other than to lead people to Christ and to accept Him as their Lord and Savior (forgive my ignorance). I’m not sure we do anything that is even close.

      Physician, though, yes. Now you’re on to something. Paramedics and physicians DO have many of the same duties. They administer life-saving drugs through I.V.’s, they have several years of intensive training, the HUGE responsibility of having someone’s life in their hands if they mess something up, they intubate airways so patients can breathe, they do all kinds of life saving stuff just like a doctor. Thank you for bringing that up. If you say that we have not demonstrated anything near to that, perhaps you should come and ride-along with us. WE DO THAT EVERY DAY!

      (-20) 32 Total Votes - 6 up - 26 down
  3. mkaney says:

    Farino – you’re totally not helping your case any. You still just don’t “get it.” I’ll be happy to explain it to you if you want to spare a few minutes. I am a nice person and can explain it in a very respectful way. But I know you won’t take me up on the offer, because you guys aren’t seeking to have a reasonable discussion where everyone puts up their thoughts and we all walk away agreeing upon something, you’re simply looking to “win.” And that’s where the problems begin….

    (21) 39 Total Votes - 30 up - 9 down
    • slofrmn says:

      Kaney, I would be happy to meet with you. How would tomorrow (Tuesday) work? Although frustrated, I too am a nice person and love nothing more than an honest, truthful debate. Let’s meet tomorrow and talk about some of the points I brought up: First, let’s talk about why it’s so wrong to have the County’s highest paid public safety but is OK to have the County’s highest paid city manger. We pay Katie Lichtig over $330,000 per year. I read in a recent paper that Morro Bay’s city manager makes just over $160,000. I would like to understand your view on that. Let’s also discuss the deception that the A & B campaign is based on, since that is what is so frustrating to us. Did you hear the caller on Congalton’s show tonight – the retired police officer that was also a city councilman in Paso? It was refreshing to hear someone speak the truth – BA is fair. We know pay cuts and reduced pensions are coming. We’re ok with that. That is industry standard right now. If we were to fight the city on cutting our pay and benefits right now and it went to BA, we would lose! It is fair, and it works both ways. I’m sure it’s easy to believe all the A&B arguments when you accept that the premises are true, but they are not. That is why we are so frustrated. The public is being deceived, and it is at both their expense and ours. I wish this whole debate was done with truth and facts, not distortions. In the end, you and I can agree to disagree – I’m not going to try to “win” with you, but I do look forward to discussing some of these points. Let’s also talk about who exactly gets the 100k pensions, let’s compare apples to apples on police salary, Dave Romero’s justification (see above) and finally, Monica’s memo and the influence of the “refinance” on Andrew’s chart. If you are serious about having a meaningful discussion, I look forward to it. While walking precincts over the past weeks, on more than one occasion, I spent over an hour on residents’ couches talking about the truth, and usually ended up with a completely surprised and changed mind. How about tomorrow, mid morning or noon if you need to do it on lunch break. Email slofrmn@sbcglobal.net to set up a time. Thank You! R

      (-11) 29 Total Votes - 9 up - 20 down
      • Crusader says:

        Your comments are offensive. No one here ever said it was OK to pay Katie Lichtig what she is being paid. Even if they had, it in no way excuses the bloated compensation you are receiving. You are attempting to obfuscate and it can be seen from a mile away.

        The taxpayers have been treated like punks, as know-nothings — just look at Farino’s soliloquy and now we have blood in our eyes. And it’s not only about not being able to afford your ludicrous compensation. It’s about the utter arrogance (and abject ignorance) so many of your brethren have displayed. That includes things like parking Engine #1 in front of Jamba Juice on March as you enjoy your $6.00 softdrinks or in the parking lot of Scolaris while you shop for dinner.

        The train was preparing to fly off the rails the moment you and your bargaining unit began to think in terms of what we taxpayers “can afford” VERSUS what your services cost to replace. Your time has come.

        Pass A & B!!

        (16) 32 Total Votes - 24 up - 8 down
        • slofrmn says:

          Actually, Crusader, Andrew Carter DID say it was OK to pay Katie Lichtig what she was being paid. He and the other council members wrote the check!

          (-11) 27 Total Votes - 8 up - 19 down
          • Crusader says:

            Is Carter posting here? Nope. As a “professional” you should be able to parse the sentence “No one here ever said it was OK to pay Katie Lichtig what she is being paid.”

            Now go figure out which one of you is making the Eggs Florentine for breakfast tomorrow morning…

            (17) 29 Total Votes - 23 up - 6 down
          • Cindy says:

            As Roger Freberg already exspressed , we can deal with those turkeys later. You’re time is now.

            (15) 25 Total Votes - 20 up - 5 down
          • Cindy says:

            As Roger Freberg already expressed , we can deal with those turkeys later. The time to deal with you is now.

            I have to agree that you’re letter was extremely sycophantic and terribly condescending to mention the fellow (by name none the less) whose house caught fire and how he ran out in a panic and shirtless. That is your job and if you don’t think there are plenty of others that would do it for reasonable compensation and appreciate the taxpayers they serve, your dead wrong. Men used to serve in your profession for the simple love of the job. You have become greedy and arrogant in an effort to defend your inflated pay and benefits in my opinion.

            (12) 22 Total Votes - 17 up - 5 down
        • MaryMalone says:

          When we lived in Mission Canyon in Santa Barbara, our local fire station was the best. Especially as it got close to fire season, they didn’t just sit in the station waiting for the calls to come in. They drove around the area and, if you hadn’t got your weeds and brush whacked back so that it didn’t present a fire danger to others, they would knock on your door and ask you why you hadn’t. One of my neighbors, one of the original settlers of the canyon, was getting up there in age, so the firefighters volunteered to get help out if she needed it.

          So it doesn’t bother me one bit if they are at jamba juice, in a grocery store, or anyplace else. As long as it is in their assigned area of coverage, and as long as it doesn’t make the firefighters look bad (i.e., hanging out at a strip club), they are on duty no matter what they are doing, so I really don’t care.

          (3) 7 Total Votes - 5 up - 2 down
      • Ugluk says:

        slofrmn, you sound like a really good guy, but the only way you’re going to convince people to vote against A & B is if you can convince Rob Farino not to post that insane screed thinly disguised as an opinion piece on the CalCoast News website. Oh, wait, it already happened. Bummer for the rest of the decent firefighters like yourself; Farino sows the wind, and you have to reap the whirlwind. Maybe you guys should encourage him to keep his gibbering INSIDE his head next time, instead of spewing it on the web for the rest of the world to see.

        (7) 23 Total Votes - 15 up - 8 down
        • Ugluk says:

          Heh. Looks like I got played. Apparently slofrmn and Farino are one and the same.

          (9) 19 Total Votes - 14 up - 5 down
          • MaryMalone says:

            So that’s who Mr.-Snooty-About-Posters-Using-Anonymous-Names is.

            A hypocrite, on top of being an arrogant nincompoop.

            (3) 5 Total Votes - 4 up - 1 down
      • mkaney says:

        Emailed.. look forward to it.

        (7) 9 Total Votes - 8 up - 1 down
  4. Moderator says:

    A small number of comments have been deleted, personal attacks suggestions echos and replies not funny at all.
    we care about your opinion of the article very much , your opinion about another person posting here not so much.
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    (8) 16 Total Votes - 12 up - 4 down
  5. slojo says:

    Thank God you people are the minority. VOTE NO on B!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    (-40) 58 Total Votes - 9 up - 49 down
    • Kidholm says:

      Minority, huh?

      (23) 35 Total Votes - 29 up - 6 down
      • slojo says:

        Ever heard of the silent majority?

        (-9) 19 Total Votes - 5 up - 14 down
        • winedude says:

          “The Silent Majority” was a term that “Tricky Dick’ Nixon used to badmouth the Vietnam War protesters. The folks in favor of the status quo in that instance and the status quo in the A/B controversy have one thing in common…they AIN’T in the majority. I bet you’d even see a similar ratio of pro/anti letters if you published Mr. Farino’s letter in New Times. In other words sir, you are not in the majority! (But I guess we’ll find out next Wednesday morning).

          (14) 18 Total Votes - 16 up - 2 down
    • Crusader says:

      To paraphrase Mr. Hand — “are you on DOPE, slojo?”

      Stop the shilling, man. You look like a fool…

      (12) 20 Total Votes - 16 up - 4 down
    • MaryMalone says:

      I don’t get it. I have no problem seeing your poster and didn’t have to go to the link.

      I am an aggressive poster, and don’t mince words about my opnion. I don’t usually get a lot of thumbs-up votes.

      As far as I can see, none of my posts have been hidden.

      (6) 6 Total Votes - 6 up - 0 down
  6. 3stacksandarock says:

    How do I get a YES on Measure “A” and “B” sign for my yard . I was on the fence but not any longer.

    (31) 55 Total Votes - 43 up - 12 down
  7. Stunned says:

    Farino, the things you describe are what you signed on for. Has it changed? About the only high fives and back slaps you’ll be getting are from your co-workers yet you’ll also notice a large contingent would never be so arrogant and narcissistic.

    You trusted politicians? No you didn’t but, you did think they’d process your agenda for you and that failed so now you turn on them? Unbelievable.

    I’m ashamed for you.

    (29) 57 Total Votes - 43 up - 14 down
  8. choprzrul says:

    Here is an example of a fire department serving 40,000 people over 272 square miles with 4 fire stations and a GRAND TOTAL OF 10 PAID EMPLOYEES. Look carefully and you will see that this department is certified at EXACTLY THE SAME ISO 2 LEVEL AS SLOFD: http://www.kvfd.webs.com/

    Volunteers train to professional levels and provide amazing fire services. It also builds community cohesiveness rather than building animosity via unions, strikes, and binding arbitration. Get a clue California, flyover states like Nebraska are leading the way while we drown in pension liabilities, over regulation, and severe taxation.

    .

    (40) 68 Total Votes - 54 up - 14 down
    • Crusader says:

      Awesome posting!

      When I lived in Massachusetts I was a member of a volunteer fire department. I would sign-up again if I had the chance here locally.

      (8) 16 Total Votes - 12 up - 4 down
    • slofrmn says:

      choprzrul, I took a look at the KVFD website. I see photos of their hose testing operation. No offense to volunteer firefighters anywhere (I taught hose class in a fire academy for 16 years in Santa Maria), but you bring up a good point. The difference between volunteers and professionals (full time paid) is well illustrated in your example. Look at the safety equipment these well-meaning guys wear. They are hose testing (a very dangerous operation) with shorts and tennis shoes. No helmets, not boots, no eye protection… I’m sure they’re a well meaning group of guys who do a bang-up job, but you do get what you pay for. Citizens of SLO get at least one paramedic on an engine of at least 3 men, to their door in 5 minutes or less, 99 percent of the time. Did you hear about the cardiac arrest near city hall? There with medics in nearly 2 minutes, we administered Advanced Life Support and he is now carrying on a normal life with his wife and kids. We proudly provide a “Cadillac” level of service to the citizens of SLO, regardless of how they feel about us and I’m proud of that. I know we have LOTS of satisfied customers to back up (around 5000 per year to be exact). Thanks for bringing up such a good example of “you get what you pay for”.

      (-15) 29 Total Votes - 7 up - 22 down
      • Crusader says:

        You are an arrogant individual…

        First of all despite what your union might tell you, a “professional” is not defined as someone who is employed full-time. Second of all it doesn’t take a professional (sic) to be safe on the job. The possibility that they are not attired correctly for the job at hand is a matter of training and rules and not being a “professional.” Even volunteers receive extremely good preparation in terms of safety. I would bet money that plenty of “professional” firefighters perform those same duties wearing the exact same gear.

        And no, don’t insult me with the old saying “you get what you pay for.” You are horribly overpaid. You even admit that cuts are imminent. Does that mean your performance will drop along with your paycheck? Even the inference is insulting.

        I don’t know if you provide any better service than those who serve in choprzrul’s example. Actually I rather doubt that you do. The people that I served with back in MA were highly intelligent, highly educated and highly motivated — to keep their OWN people and property safe. I think the old Cadillac element to your service is what it costs local taxpayers.

        (14) 22 Total Votes - 18 up - 4 down
        • slofrmn says:

          Crusader, I really am not arrogant. I am just defending my livelihood. I am a humble public servant. I know all about volunteer firefighters. I was one when I started, and I spent the first 10 years of my career putting on bi-weekly drills for our force of 25 volunteers. It was my job to make sure these well-meaning, dedicated individuals could safely and competently handle emergencies. I enjoyed my time up north, and all across the country volunteer firefighters get the job done. The problems with VFD’s are many. In modern times, families are so busy, they don’t have the time required (NFPA and OSHA do not differentiate on training requirements). Each year there are more and more regulations and requirements – so much so that even us full-timers are constantly trying to keep up with them. It’s no wonder that VFD’s are having problems. I don’t meat to insult you, but I do feel that I have enough knowledge and experience with this issue. I’ve been doing this for nearly 20 years in both Volunteer and Professional (meaning we do it as a profession not a side-job) departments. I’d encourage you to do a ride along with us, and then do a ride along at an all-volunteer fire department locally (if you can find one). Then draw your own conclusions.

          (-20) 26 Total Votes - 3 up - 23 down
          • oldbrown says:

            slofrmn, Engineer Forino, I don’t have a dog in this fight but I feel compelled to comment on your recent letter. First off, it was a very foolish letter and I think you did more harm than good. I’m a retired fire captain and I served 30 years for a large FD quite a bit south of SLO. Although you claim to be an Engineer, you sound like a rookie. It’s one thing to piss and moan around the fire station but it’s quite another to go public with a letter such as yours. Had you been on my shift you would have spent about an hour in my office while I told you how the cow ate the cabbage. Did it ever occur to you that your union president should do the talking for you guys? He’s trained in such matters and you’re not. I seriously doubt that he would have approved of your letter prior to you sending it and I suspect he’s terribly embarrassed by your letter. If he’s not, then he should be. I was especially disgusted by your veiled threat to ask other FF’s to boycott local businesses.

            I also thought your “war” stories were really out of line. I can guarantee you that I’ve seen more gory scenes in my 30 years than you have at this point in your career and I never shared them with my family or friends, only other FF’s and cops. And then you identified the resident of a structure fire and described his reaction? Terribly unprofessional and that’s why releasing that kind of information is typically the job of your dept’s Public Information Officer or Chief Officer, not the Engineer on one of the rigs. Although you claim in your letter that you’re a “professional” you certainly don’t act like one.

            I know that FF’s and cops are under attack from many quarters right now but keep in mind that the taxpaying public are entitled to their opinion whether you like it or not. As I see it, your responsibility is to keep doing your job to the best of your ability and keep your mouth shut while doing it. I sent a copy of your letter to many of my retired FF friends, of all ranks, and to a man they all replied you’re an embarrassment to the fire service. Next time you get all worked up, THINK.

            (18) 24 Total Votes - 21 up - 3 down
            • slocal says:

              I completely agree. As a Public Relations professional, I am outraged by the insensitive nature in which you described Mr. Brown’s demeanor that morning (which on your side or not, your house is on fire, you’re running in what you have) and the remains of the young man hit by the train.

              As a resident on the fence, you certainly did nothing to swing my leg over to your side, and I hope your Chief handles the public mess you made with your comments.

              (20) 28 Total Votes - 24 up - 4 down
              • MaryMalone says:

                I was also disgusted by that comment.

                IMO, it shows someone who doesn’t have an inner sense of what a good person is what types of things–such as the comment above, about someone whose house was on fire!!!–a good person just does not do.

                Worse, it now makes me think if, as soon as they are out of earshot, the firefighters–instead of having compassion for the dissheveled nature of someone whose house is aflame–immediately start laughing and making jokes about how they looked, what they were wearing, or if their carpet needed to be vacuumed.

                Damn, I better swing by Victoria Secret and get some fancy new underdrawers before I call in a fire.

                (8) 8 Total Votes - 8 up - 0 down
        • MaryMalone says:

          I’m no fan of Farino at this point, but I do believe that volunteers involved in risky actions need to be supervised by someone with the certifications to do so.

          Doesn’t matter what kind of volunteer or actions—it’s the best way to ensure safety of the volunteers, and also, at the same time, have someone there who can teach them.

          (3) 5 Total Votes - 4 up - 1 down
      • choprzrul says:

        Consider: They are certified at exactly the same ISO II level as SLOFD. That means that when you bag on their competency, you are also bagging on your own.

        Now, maybe the state can fix these types of situations if we would ban public servant unions. As matter of fact, I am thinking that in these economic times, SLO should fire each and every one of you and start over with non-union personnel.

        Think about it: private sector employees have to participate in government retirement while government employees get to participate in their own private retirement. If social security is good enough for me, it is good enough for public servants.

        .

        (14) 20 Total Votes - 17 up - 3 down
    • Ugluk says:

      Excellent post, choprzrul. I believe many people would be willing to trade the current level of service for the level of service a volunteer department would provide for much less money.

      (11) 17 Total Votes - 14 up - 3 down
      • slojo says:

        Ugluk……that could be the stupidest thing I have ever heard.

        (-10) 16 Total Votes - 3 up - 13 down
        • choprzrul says:

          A community utterly failing to take personal responsibility for its own safety is the stupidest thing possible. Outsourcing responsibility for safety is irresponsible. It has created a toxic situation that is pitting those who are being paid premium wages to provide the service against those who expect to be the recipient of those services. If this situation ever presented itself in the private sector, you would all be fired for being in contrast of interest with the employer.

          The simple truth is that the FD union is attempting to use the fear of withdrawl or reduction in services to scare the citizens of SLO into coddling them.

          The saying goes that you can’t fix stupid.

          In this case, I think that they are wrong. The citizens of SLO have the opportunity to fix this stupid situation when they go to the polls.

          .

          (10) 16 Total Votes - 13 up - 3 down
    • MaryMalone says:

      I agree. Firefighting has come a long way and encompasses many things now that the job didn’t just ten years ago.

      I’m especially concerned about the safety issues. Yes, it is unsafe to test high-pressure hoses without appropriate protective equipment.

      I think volunteer firefighters can serve an important role, but they must always be supervised by a firefighter certified in whatever it is the volunteers are doing. This is the only way we can all be assured that the volunteers are not only remaining safe, but also learning valuable information and tactics.

      (5) 5 Total Votes - 5 up - 0 down
  9. Ugluk says:

    Mr. Farino,
    Before you start pushing that boycott too hard, remember that you’ve just told a bunch of us “kool-aid” drinkers that your wife owns a business downtown. Boycotts can go both ways. Don’t worry if business drops off, though. Just take comfort in the fact that, in your own words, “it’s not personal, we appreciate what police officers and firefighters do for us…”

    Also, what made you think that taking cheap shots at Andrew Carter’s minister father was a good idea, or that snide mockery of religion would help you win a majority of SLO voters to your cause? (I refer specifically to this little gem: “Again, you deceive for votes – whatever it takes to convert people to your crusade. Yes, your dad would be proud, Andrew. Praise the Lord.”) Disgusting.

    Also, your classless gibes at Paul Brown’s running out of his house “shirtless and panicking” when you responded to a fire in his home infuriated me. Where is your professionalism? Is it common practice to mock and denigrate the people you are supposed to protect and serve? Frankly, you are contemptible, and bring no credit to your cause or profession.

    (55) 83 Total Votes - 69 up - 14 down
    • slofrmn says:

      Ugluk, people vote with their wallets all the time. That’s how we as a country can get back on track – purchasing things made here instead of China, and creating jobs in the process, but that’s another issue. My point is not to stage a boycott, but to point out that when stores are bold enough to put a political sign out front, they take the risk of alienating some of their customer base. That works for both sides, and believe me, my wife is ok with that.

      I’ll admit I was venting a bit, but felt comfortable playing the religion card because I numerous times Andrew has brought his religion into his debate. It has no place in this debate. He brought it up (over and over) so I’d like to call him on it. He was elected to public office; if he wants to preach, perhaps he should save the sermon tidbits for Sunday. Not everybody practices the same religion as Andrew, and an elected official should not be using HIS religion to further his political agenda.

      Lastly, no it is not common to mock or denigrate the people we serve. I read his reply, and I don’t think he felt mocked. I know Paul, and yes we have history with him. I believe there is a mutual respect between the firefighters and Mr. Brown. I think what I want to convey to Paul is that we are disappointed that he saw fit to go out of his way to stand against us after we worked so hard for him. We did our best to save his car from his burning garage, and went on an interior attack on a well-involved house fire to safe his belongings. Firefighters could have been burned in the process, and it’s hard to not take his letter as a slap in the face. That’s all. If Paul needs to call 911 again, we will be there again in less than 5 minutes ready to risk our lives for his (unless Measure B passes, then it may take more like 7 or 8 minutes).

      (-20) 28 Total Votes - 4 up - 24 down
      • Paul_Brown says:

        Rob,

        I sincerely hope you’re not suggesting that you and your fellow firefighters efforts that morning were politically motivated. As mentioned earlier, I really and truly appreciate and value the efforts you all made that day on my behalf. I can only assume, as professionals, those efforts would have been made on any residence.in San Luis Obispo regardless of who lived there.

        I have never hidden my concerns regarding the effects of binding arbitration on our city. It is because I raised these concerns in the past that the public safety unions chose to endorse Jan Marx and John Ashbaugh instead of me in the 2008 council race and Jan Marx instead of me in the 2010 mayoral race. I understood it at the time and didn’t take it personal because I realize you all were only operating in your best interests.

        I am not standing against you, Rob. I am sorry you see it as such. I am standing up for what I believe is in the City’s best interest. I believe, especially in light of the effects of binding arbitration as it has been used (both in our city and others in CA), it is financially beneficial to public safety unions, but is detrimental to the long-run financial functionality of San Luis Obispo.

        Please don’t take any of my comments as a slap in the face. I respect you, Rob, both personally and professionally. I know you will continue to do your job at 100% regardless of the result of this election.

        As far as your last comment, wasn’t it the Tribune who recently pointed out that current emergency response times in SLO City are about 30 seconds slower than they were prior to binding arbitration?

        I look forward to the end of the month and hearing the voice of the voters. I fear that most of us commenting in local blogs are far too committed to either side to get any new input on the discussion or to sway any votes. I also look forward possibly grabbing coffee/lunch with you, Rob, after the dust has settled (October?).

        (13) 19 Total Votes - 16 up - 3 down
        • slojo says:

          OMG. Paul, you are horrible. You are doing exactly what Rob said all of you politicians did. “Hey, I know I screwed you but I am going to need your support again when I decide to run for city council again so maybe we can have coffee once you guys get over the fact that I screwed you. You know I have always liked you man.”

          You HAVE to be kidding me right?

          (-16) 28 Total Votes - 6 up - 22 down
        • MaryMalone says:

          Usually in this type of issue, the winner is usually the side that has the best advertisement and the best get-out-the-vote campaign.

          (4) 4 Total Votes - 4 up - 0 down
        • MaryMalone says:

          According to an article in the Tribune yesterday, only one-third of the voting ballots mailed out have been returned, and they don’t anticipate a big rush in the last two days before the votes are counted.

          It is unfortunate, but 33% of the City’s voters are going to decide what is a very important measure about one of the benefits FFs currently have in return for their highly dangerous service to the City.

          (2) 2 Total Votes - 2 up - 0 down
      • Disgusted says:

        Your lack of respect for the privacy rights of Brown disturbs me greatly. Is there no code of ethics for SLO firemen?
        Your rant has caused more harm than good. The insults, true or not, are not professional. You do a disservice to your fellow employees.
        Your threats of boycott demonstrate your inablity to respect the opinions of others who felt strongly enough to put their names on the line.
        I’m sorry you chose to write your opinion piece and hope for your sake that the 2 other papers choose not to print it.
        I worry when angry, bitter people are responsible for the safety of others.

        (16) 22 Total Votes - 19 up - 3 down
    • MaryMalone says:

      YEAH, and once I get my Pitchforks, Torches and Protest Signs Emporium up and running, we can protest.

      (4) 4 Total Votes - 4 up - 0 down
    • MaryMalone says:

      Wouldn’t the Chamber of Commerce LOVE to hear that one of the City’s firefighters is making threats of boycotting their stores if he doesn’t get his way?

      (7) 7 Total Votes - 7 up - 0 down

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