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

August 22, 2011


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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To All SLO Firefighters:

By your silence, I am assuming that all of you stand behind Mr. Farino’s letter.

You are a shameful lot.

I feel the same regarding their silence regarding the Mason incident.


And the Mason incident cannot NOT have an impact on the outcome of measures A and B.

Instead of firefighters dealing with this like the public-relations disaster it is, however, the ones who have posted here (except for OldBrown, big smooches to him/her) have just made their own situation worse.


I tend to disagree with your assessment that the rest of the troops with SLO FD stand behind Mr. Farino. Their silence speaks volumes to me. I think they’re NOT chiming in because Engineer Farino has embarrassed them and they want as much distance from this guy as they can get. As a retired FF I can only hope you don’t, and won’t, judge an entire fire department by the actions of one guy or even a few guys. There’s always the 10% in any organization that cause the most problems. I don’t personally know anyone in the SLO FD but I do know they have a good reputation in the fire service. Engineer Farino sounds like a guy with an agenda and that won’t serve him well in his career. He’s now labeled himself with his department and I doubt it will soon be forgotten by the rank and file troops.


You sound like a very credible man. I’ve read your comments and respect your opinion as a retired firefighter. My vantage point is that of a tax-paying outsider. In my opinion, the best way for other firefighters to distance themselves from the appalling comments made by Mr. Farino would be to post editorials en masse. Better yet, a letter to the editors of local press written by his chief condemning his comments, and signed by all the firefighters employed by the city would do wonders to improve their public perception.

The default position of silence is support.

Kidholm, I understand your vantage point but the key word is “outsider”. There’s a culture within the fire service. One of the rules of that culture is that we don’t air our dirty laundry in public. Or, at least that was the rule until Mr. Farino entered the picture. I don’t know what Mr. Farino does while he’s on duty but my dept. had a rule forbidding discussions about politics or religion while on duty. It was an offense usually resulting in disciplinary action. Although I don’t know whether Mr. Farino shares his political views while on duty I find it hard to believe he doesn’t. I know if he had been on my crew I could have found plenty for him to do in order to stay busy.

As for your suggestion that other members post comments en masse, it’ll never happen. And I don’t blame them. If I were a member of that dept. I wouldn’t touch this discussion with a ten foot pole. Same goes for the Fire Chief because I can guarantee you that he has a desk full of problems and he can ill afford to devote his time disputing Mr. Farino.

From my perspective I think the troops and the Chief Officer’s are making a wise decision by not commenting on Mr. Farino’s letter. Farino shot himself in the foot by writing the letter and he will suffer the consequences down the road.

The FD has access to public relations personnel, no? Surely, the City has a raft of PR people at hand to spin any of their problems into cotton candy and moonbeams.

I don’t think the FD getting involved in a posting match is going to be of much value.

I do, however, believe they should take a public stance on, first of all, what Mason did and, second of all, the preferential treatment he has continued to get over the multiple violent-attack incidents he has perped.

The average person on the street, learning of the way Mason’s violent attack was handled, could (and have) easily got the impression that they are not safe from the actions of ANY of the FD personnel, and that, indeed, they have no assurance that they will not be assaulted by a FF, who will be treated like a rock-star by his FD and the City’s PD afterwards.

Oh, the letter is really not so bad compared to the posts he made subsequently. Those posts just show that the article wasn’t a wretched burp of good judgment for Mr. Farino, but seem to be his MO.

I know other firefighters get ticked off at the public–mostly for good reason, I would bet–but THEY seem to be able to make a sound judgment as to when and where that anger is appropriately expressed.

A public message board is definitely NOT the place, and right before the vote on A and B is NOT the time.

I can see your reasoning why they are not speaking up.

However, that’s not how it looks to many of us citizens.

They certainly have had no problem advocating against A and B, no?

Oldbrown, I just want to thank you for taking the time to post here.

I thought maybe I was seeing the firefighters I have known and worked with through rose-tinted glasses. My interactions with firefighters have always led me to believe that (mostly) they are models of behavior that we hope our kids aspire to be.

Anyway, the posts from you and Bugcatcher (is he/she an entymologist?) sound like the normal firefighters I know and have known.


Please don’t change your opinion of FF’s based on the actions of a couple of guys. By and large, FF’s and cops are good people and work to serve the public (our employer). In the future, Mr. Farino would be well-advised to refrain from writing angry letters for public consumption. It doesn’t serve him well nor does it benefit his department.

Advice taken and appreciated.

It takes more than a few bad apples to make me change my opinion on professionals I respect, but having Mason and then Farino and LAFireman hit the news so quickly, with no statement from the FD…I was beginning to wonder if my “Old-School” outlook on firefighters is so Old School it’s no longer in the realm of reality.

Question: Do you think the issue is the SLO City FD? I don’t read or hear of other FDs having nutballs like SLOCFD does.


My answer to your question is “no”, it’s not SLO FD. Mr. Farino may be a decent guy and a good FF but he allowed himself to get all worked up and then wrote the letter that’s caused all the fuss. He should have written the letter, read it a few times and then put it in the trash. Or, he could have shown the letter to his Captain or his BC and asked their advice on whether to publish it or not. I think I can assure you they would have told him to tear it up. Keep in mind that this was a letter from one guy and now the rest of that dept. has to take heat (no pun intended) for his poor decision.

I’d like to thank Rob for taking time out of his day to meet with me. I don’t think any minds were changed today, but I think we had an honest discussion and have established that it’s not an “us” against “them” fight. If the general level of public discourse were more like our discussion, I think that we could get a lot more things accomplished as a society. Being direct and honest and not playing games should be the priorities and expectations we have for our future public officials. In that regard, Rob made a very good point about leaving the decisions in the hands of our city council as opposed to an arbitrator. But I assured him that the politicians are on the list of people to deal with as well, it is just the luck of the draw that we are starting with this particular issue. I expressed the hope that the next time negotiations came around, that it was not this set of opportunistic and dishonest politicians that they will have to be dealing with. I hope that this sentiment is shared by everyone. We have a lot of work to do, and it would be a shame if public safety officials were the only group that had to experience the backlash from the public over public expenditures.

Thanks again Rob.

Public Safety workers are not the only ones who will experience the backlash – they are just the easiest form of “sacred cow” that is thrown up to head off the steamroller that is coming. It will not work, of course, and “they” will have to move to “teachers” and anything associated with children, then (maybe) elderly – though the elderly argument will be a bigger disaster than public safety workers were (from a PR perspective).

What everyone who is about to be “burned” or “harmed” from the social/governmental changes coming, it is not to you personally (as Mr. Farino was fond of pointing out, it isn’t personal). There HAS to be changes (read: CUTS) across the board, for everyone and everything.

The fight started with the usual class-warfare, “tax the rich” mantras, etc. But anyone with half a brain will soon figure out that there is not enough “rich” to tax we have simply spent and promised to spend too much. Taxes will never go away, and the rich surely will be taxed, but without limits to spending, we’re just spinning our wheels, and every day more and more people – regular people who had not ever had the time to think about these things – are suddenly realizing what is going on and what needs to be done.

Flashback a year or so ago when “the powers that be” told us we need to spend our way out of this recession? How stupid does that sound now? About as stupid as is it did when it was said, for me.

Firefighters are more-liked than cops, that’s why you see the FD shoved out in front on this, make no mistake. City council WILL be held responsible to the citizenry, so it is unlikely that they’ll get as ridiculous as we let them get the past 10-20 years – especially when the “new economy” settles in. Big awakening for lots of people.

And thank you, Matt. Dialogue and debate is how problems are solved. There is nothing wrong with agreeing to disagree. All we want is the truth out there, and that is why we are so frustrated with the A and B campaign. We do have trust in the the public and hope that most will take the time to listen to BOTH sides and make an educated decision.

My, my. How things change.

What was it–did your union steward contact you? Or Chief Hines? SLOCity HR?

Whatever. You can’t unwrite what has been written. You came blazing in here and treated us like were were $hit beneath your feet just because SOME OF US (not me. ironically, I actually believe firefighters should have access to collective bargaining) didn’t agree with you on A and B.

You STILL haven’t apologized.

My Mother had lots of catchy (and annoying) sayings. One of them suits you to a “T”:

A skunk can’t change his stripes overnight.

You know, the ironic thing is that I actually believe MOST of the firefighters–excluding Farino, Mason and others who have such an arrogantly insulting attitude towards the public–deserve collective bargaining.

Times are tough, yes, but that does not lessen the risk they take every day they report for duty at the SLOCity Fire Department.

However, I can’t shake hands and let by-gones be by-gones because he demonstrated very poor people skills here in dealing with us. Dealing with the public is a big part of his job, and he totally failed in that in both his article and his follow-up posts. If he cannot handle opinions that he doesn’t agree with from the public, then he needs to get a different job.

I think Farino needs to do some major apologizing at this point. The fact that he has not apologized, IMO, indicates he’s still the same jerk who first pranced onto CCN and proceeded to spew his demeaning crap at us.

Part of having the support for firefighters to continue having the right to collective bargaining is the firefighters acting like professionals who DESERVE that (expensive) right.

Lest you forget, he posted a very derogatory and arrogant opinion. I’m glad you made nice with him, but I see his attitude as a major stumbling block to a unicorns-and-my-pet-pony experience here.

I’m pointing this out because he needs to own up to the fact that he really had no right to come at the public like he did, and then gripe about it when we returned fire.

When he posts an apologizing opinion piece, at least as long as the insulting one he originally posted, then I’ll take him seriously. Right now, what I see is someone who realizes he screwed up and wants to weasel out of it by making you his ally.

Dear Mr. Farino,

Thank you for your honest and open letter which clearly states your true character and illustrates the level of arrogance, entitlement, immaturity, unprofessionalism, and threatening brutishness that defines the typical current- day public employee.

If there was ever any doubt about the type of person who is living off of the taxes confiscated by force from the 85% of us silly, foolish private sector slaves you have astutely managed to remove all doubt.

You state: “…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!”

Since you do not patronize businesses operated by people who don’t agree with your views, I assume then that you wouldn’t expect me or my friends, or anyone else for instance the readers here, to patronize your personal business, The Blade Runner salon at 894 Monterey St., if we do not agree with your particular views. Everyone in my address book will receive a link to this article, and will be encouraged to pass it on to everyone in their address books.

It’s good to know that you don’t take it personally.

Heheh, another one burned by Jan Marx and Dave Romero? Priceless.

Good thing critical thinking was not part of your admission to the crew…

Yeah, I noted that, too.

I really am astounded that Farino is a firefighter. Truly, I have never met a firefighter who is a jerk. Maybe Farino is their token a$$hole for the entire state of California.

Mr. Farino, I wish I could be sympathetic to your plight, but I’m not. This rant of yours is morally reprehensible, and, frankly, I’m disgusted by it. This message actually makes me fear our local firefighters. Was that your intent?

Your arrogance, your rage and disdain for people who disagree with you is really quite alarming, and I wonder if you’re in the right state of mind to be one of the people I want to rescue me from a fire. I certainly wouldn’t want you posting my horrifying experience on the web.

Were you expecting shock or sympathy for detailing some of the horrors you have to face as a firefighter? I wish I could provide sympathy, but all I’m left with after reading your message is a feeling of dismay, shock and revulsion. Your tone and bravado make it impossible for me to lend a sympathetic ear.

And you sit there on your high horse, threatening business people who wish to exercise their right to vote and express their opinions in the way they please, thinking this will make you look like an upstanding citizen. Well, it doesn’t. These are our neighbors, our friends. And you resort to such childish bullying. You and your firefighter pals can take your business elsewhere, as I’m sure you’re not the only people keeping these businesses afloat in a tough economy. I think I might take a look at the business names who donated money in support of measures A and B and actually make an effort to spend more money there and do business with them more frequently. I’ll say hi to Doug at the Sanctuary for you.

Really, Mr. Farino. You should have contacted a PR professional or something before providing this tirade to the media. It’s shameful and immature, and doesn’t help your side at all. In fact, I think it hurts your campaign. Especially since you had to resort to such indecency (how is talking about a girl with diarrhea helping you? What on earth does that illustrate?).

Perhaps, try going to a therapist to talk about the experiences you carry around with you? There are many good therapists in town. Seeing one might actually help you release some of this anger you seem to carry around with you too.

Best of luck to you, Mr. Farino. I genuinely hope you find a new profession and get the help you deserve. But you’ve just convinced me to vote YES on measures A and B.

BINGO. That was my thought, too. Remind me to get my hair styled and put on my diamond tiara before I call 911 to report a fire at my home.

If Farino is like this dealing with people on a message board, he has no place in the kind of chaos that accompanies a fire or other emergency.

Can you imagine? Farino shows up for the fire call and, before you can say, “My kids are trapped on the second floor!!!” he demands to know how you voted on A/B, and if you don’t have the right answer—well, you’ll be lucky if all he does is waste 20 minutes spewing a rant at you.

So you’re THAT type of guy. An HR baby. Tuggin at your union rep’s pant leg. Keep talking Sally. You make a hell of a case.

Not necessarily. It doesn’t take a brain surgeon to figure out that Mr. Farino did not have the right, power or authority to represent the SLOCity FD as he did, and that the PR person is the one who should have handled it.

I can’t imagine that the SLOFD doesn’t have a regulation about how the FF’s act in public.

Dear Mr. Farino,

Can you please submit your “Open Letter to the SLO City Council and the Citizens For SLO” to The Tribune, New Times, KSBY and KCOY?”

I think all SLO citizens need to hear your point of view.

Thank you.

Dear Mr. Farino, If you do take the above advice, may I recommend that you tone it down a bit. You seem like a nice, reasonable person from your posts, but the tone of your letter suggests otherwise (and people will lose sight of the message because they’ll be put off by the attitude).

Thank you. I truly am a nice and reasonable person. I may be a little passionate right now because I, like my brothers, am defending my livelihood.

Let me honestly say that the letter originally went to two recipients that it was intended for, the City Council and the A & B Committee. I did not intend for it to be spread out to the media, and I obviously did not intend to gain any votes with it. When my coworkers emphatically urged me to share it with media, it told me that I am not alone in my frustration. We only want to get the truth out to the citizens so they can make an educated and informed choice, and not be misled or lied to. We speak the truth – look at the attachments I provided. Look at our real numbers and not the hypothetical ones. When you make comparisons, take the time to make sure you are comparing apples to apples. Unfortunately, the truth is not being spoon fed to the public. Misinformation, however abounds. Here’s another example. The 2009 salaries printed in the TT show many of us making significant overtime. Much of this was due to a more typical wildland fire season, when we have 10 to 12 firefighters out battlling the blazes in other counties. What the TT doesn’t seem to want to include when they talk about our overtime being out of control is the fact that the City made 18% PROFIT on top of getting all our expenses paid. Do you care to know that over just a few summers, the City PROFITED approximately 3 MILLION DOLLARS? That money went to the general fund. Why, jackbnimble, do you think that doesn’t make the story? We at the firehouse wonder that too. We have lots of these little “inconvenient truths” we would have loved to share with you before most of the votes went in. The media just doesn’t seem to be unbiased enough to print all the facts.

Respectfully, Rob


I don’t have a dog in this fight in SLO, however I do have an opinion about your letter. I served for 30 years in a large FD many miles south of you and retired as a captain. If anyone on my crew had written a letter such as yours and would have spent at least an hour in my office and you wouldn’t have been happy with the outcome. I found your letter to be immature and unprofessional. Having worked in a major metropolitan area for 30 years I found your “war stories” laughable. Me and my crews were on hundreds of tragic calls over the years but none of us ever wrote a letter to the editor sharing the details.

And even hinting at a boycott of local businesses sounds like something a rookie would write. I forwarded your letter to numerous FF retiree’s that are friends of mine and to a man they said they were embarrassed that a firefighter would write such a letter to a local newspaper. I can only hope that the citizens of your city don’t judge the rest of us by your actions.

I suggest that you grow up, do your job, quit whining and keep your mouth shut.

Thank You oldbrown….Rob you have hurt your cuase.

oldbrown, what do you think about a retired chief who is drawing a $100k+ pension plus full lifetime medical benefits writing an opinion piece urging support for A & B? Where does that fit on your credibility scale. How do YOU feel about politicians lying to the public in an attempt to screw both the public and the public safety members. Perhaps you would have told your crew to just shut up, lie down and roll over. Just let the politicians do what they will and take it like a man? Isn’t that what you “old dogs” used to tell the rookies about wearing breathing apparatus? Rookies were wimps if they couldn’t suck the smoke. Times have changed, and my Captain was FULLY in support of me and the rest of my crew as we stood out in front of our station. Car after car honked with thumbs up, and fists raised. We have had and continue to have a lot of public support. I’m sorry if you think it’s noble to just take it when the politicians want to grab all the power, but we don’t. We are the citizen’s best and only advocates. We negotiate for staffing levels and reduced response times, not just benefits. I would think that a veteran would understand that, but perhaps you’ve been retired too long. How, by the way is that public sponsored, government retirement treating YOU? You should look up Chief Neumann – I bet you’d hit it off!

Has your boss seen the tripe you’ve been writing? The first letter was insulting to the intelligence of anyone with common sense. The replies you’ve written since then aren’t any better. Perhaps the best thing you could do would be to cool the absurd rhetoric. Mercifully, there is now less than a week until the vote is counted and done with. I’ve got to say that any respect I once had for fire fighters has been taken down a notch, and I don’t even live in SLO.


You’re entitled to your political views but that wasn’t the point of my reply to you. My complaint was your suggestion about boycotting local businesses and the name of the private citizen on the structure fire. That was unprofessional and immature and has nothing to do with the current political battle. As for us “old dogs”, the benefits you enjoy today were negotiated by us while you were still in diapers and we never encouraged our rookies to “suck smoke”. It seems to me that you’ve appointed yourself as the spokesman for the rank and file FF’s. That’s the job of your union president, not you.

Your reference to my pension was another childish comment. I know your type because I’ve had people like you on my crew from time to time. You get hired, go through an academy, pass probation and then start whining about working conditions. I know the system well and I know you’re not underpaid and overworked. You’ve got a damn good job and you know it. And quit whining about gory or tragic calls you go on. That’s what you get paid to do.

QUOTING FARINO: “Times have changed, and my Captain was FULLY in support of me and the rest of my crew as we stood out in front of our station…”


Are you telling us that Chief Hines approved of and supported you in the “knife in the back” protest which, at the very least, made City FFs look like a$$hats, but worse, was a distraction to drivers.

It would be a shame if your chief suffered from the actions of you and a few other FFs, but if he approved of and supported you in that protest, his performance in his position should be reviewed and reprimands issued where warranted.

I understand passion about defending your livelihood but, a yes vote on a and b could ease the tax burden effecting mine.


If it wasn’t your misguided attempt to gain votes, then what was the purpose of your rant against business owners, current and past Council members and chiefs of police & fire, the citizenry who doesn’t agree with your stance, and the boycott threat, reduction of service threat and divulging private facts about those whom you aided? If your purpose was merely to vent, you made a serious mistake. If you weren’t interested in votes, why submit all of the data? Who’s lying now? As for your fellow firemen, it’s easy to urge another to submit such an opinion piece, but I notice they didn’t sign on and put their names on the line.

Ooo-la-la! Great point.

Maybe they’re trying to get rid of him.

You know, like in the first Indiana Jones movie, when he and his pal are looking into the pit of poisonous vipers, and his pal says, “It looks dangerous, Indie. You go first.”?

Like that.


Yeah, and LA Fireman can submit his, too.

They can all three dance the troika on the way to the unemployment office.

A little reality check for you all, for some perspective. My younger brother works in Oxnard and he has to wear a bullet-proof vest every time he goes out on a call. Guess what? He makes NOWHERE NEAR THE SALERIES our firefighters do. And yes, he also sees gruesome stuff, everyday, so do paramedics, nurses, etc….the difference is he doesn’t think about it, because he can’t carry that with him when he goes to work everyday. Neither did my father, who was a Police Officer, SWAT, Undercover drug detective for the LAPD. I remember my dad growing a beard and leaving everynight to go get the “bad guys”. He worked the riots, he worked 77th division, he worked Watts…guess what? He didn’t come close to making the kind of money or retirement you all do up here. And he’s had 3 shoulder surgeries and 2 knee surgeries–that goes with the job. You know what he says today? He wouldn’t have had it any other way, he loved helping people, and he loved his work he loved being on the force. I think that’s the difference between working a small community like this and being in the big metro areas–it’s a very humbling experience. I think you need to leave the SLO life and get a taste for what other departments do, it might give you a bigger perspective on life. I wish you well in your endeavors, but I don’t think this is your choosen career path in life, I’m sorry you feel this way and have carried this for so long.

The jobs in Oxnard pay about $40,200 base a year, and the LAPD pays $45,226 base. LAPD detectives make about $80,075 and captains make $123-163K–they are in a city that serves 3 million people.

Babymommy – What are you talking about? A SLO Firefighter’s base salary is $47,976. It is available on the City’s website. When you folks keep saying “$100k” salaries, and comparing that to your Oxnard and LAPD salaries in the 40k range, it just shows that you either aren’t concerned with facts or you have had the kool-aid. How can you compare apples to oranges and feel you have a valid argument??? Let’s compare base salary for base salary, please. Or let’s compare management salary to management salary. Pick one, but if you want to have an honest, factual debate, we really should go with the apples to apples approach.

How about a :middle of the road” comparison so it’s not base salary nor management salary. Oxnard has 180,000 people, City of SLO has 45,000. An engineer 1 step 5 in the city of SLO (just to give an average) makes $75K base, Oxnard engineer 1 step 5 is $56,160 base, I know you make overtime too but I just wanted to do a fair comparison or “apples to apples” I can look up LAPD as well but that wouldn’t be considered “Apples to Apples” in this example. Here’s my sources you can check it out as well:

Oxnard Classifications & Salary:

SLO City:

They have a higher pop density and higher rate of crime, which you could probably “assume” they have a much higher risk factor…

so the starting base salary for a slo firefighter is 19.33% higher than a starting firefighter in Oxnard and 6.07% higher than an LA area firefighters base salary.

To be fair, you saw the salary sheets yourself, and no firefighters base salary is NEAR $47,976.

You are a Class A problem for SLOFD. Even with other FFs asking you to tone it down, you continue to be arrogant and insulting.

I’m going to copy all of your posts and send them with my letter to the chief.

It is FFs like you and Mason that make the rest of the FFs look bad.

To Slofrmn (AKA Rob Farino) and Slojo-To summarize, according to everything you have posted so far, the only real reason you have given so far in justifying your $100,000+ salaries and benefits which exceed the state average by 50%, while the city’s coffers are being drained by it, is Kathy Lichtig’s and the Morro Bay’s managers salaries. All the other issues including local businesses “hoarding large amounts of cash” and not hiring, the “professional” mumbo jumbo which you are claiming is exclusive to SLO and not seen elsewhere in the nation, and all the firemen losing their houses in this economy are not just a smokescreen, they are also untrue. One can reach only one conclusion about you and your open letter: Greed

flytrap, you appear to have a kool-aid stain around your lips. My salary does not exceed the state average by 50% and I wish my base salary was $100,000+. I really do, but it’s not. If that were true, flytrap, how do think I would have secured such a salary? Do you think we drove our fire engines to city hall and pulled a gun on the HR dept., demanding all their money? Our salaries were negotiated with City Administration, and approved by… you guessed it… the City Council. We didn’t use BA to get those salaries. Do you know why? Because that is what 9 other comparison cities pay their firefighters. We and the City agreed to compare to those 9 cities. By the way, Management has their own list of comparison cities that we would much rather use!

Please, flytrap, click on the link above and read Dave Romero’s letter. Please, do it. Do it now. If you like, I will read it to you. EDUCATE YOURSELF. What does Dave say? Something about “Industry Standard blah blah blah”, you know, all that justification stuff. I know, you don’t want to be bothered by the truth and facts. That kind of thing just gets in the way.

Look, we are not asking for anything but to maintain the safeguards we have. Voters and impartial 3rd party resolution protect us and the level of service we provide from POLITICIANS. That is all we want. We know times are tough, and we know salary cuts and pension reform are coming (we proposed it but the City rejected it).

Rob- Your letter and position as a “victim” of the City Council with the knife in the back does not justify your outrageous compensation. Desperation is when you threaten the community with withholding your shopping unless we vote down “A” and “B.” And claiming to be just making a “living wage” is ridiculous. Justifying your salary by very occasionally cleaning of bodily fluids or seeing blood doesn’t ring true either. And amazingly, you claim to know that times are tough but think that a 100K salary is justified?

Attacking Andrew Carter’s religious beliefs, and even his father’s beliefs certainly goes beyond reason when you say, “Yes, Andrew, we know your father was a minister and that whole “judging trees by their fruit thing.” And calling us all sheep. And yet, you claim that, “I truly am a nice and reasonable person.” You certainly have not demonstrated that either. You claim that you are the public’s best advocate-are you kidding? I certainly hope that you do not represent the SLO Fire Department, either, which I know has many dedicated and reasonable men.