Name: margalit
Location: Massachusetts, United States Professional writer, educational advocate, opinionated ultra liberal mother of 18 year old twins, living life in the slow lane due to hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, congestive heart failure, and diabetes.

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Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Local news bombs....again

The firefighters in our fair city has been without a contract for 1290 days. That would be since 2003, 4 very long years. The contract disputes have risen to a very acrimonious degree, with our Mayor refusing to negotiate. In addition, the Mayor has imposed draconian regulations on the firefighters regarding absences. Regulations that not one other public servant in our city have to follow. Punishing regulations that make little to no sense and have instead served to anger the firefighters as they have to comply with very childish regulatons that only they are required to submit to.

What are the silly childish regulatons? The firefighters have to get a doctor's excuse for every absense. If they have a cough or cold, they are expected to go to the doctor and receive a note allowing them an excused absense. If they have menstrual cramps, they have to run to their gynocologist and get an excuse for being absent. If they have a sick child at home, they cannot get a paid absence. Not one freaking day.

This not only increases the cost of healthcare, it is a draconian measure that has been imposed only because the Mayor is acting like a spoiled child. This, btw, is the Mayor that I've voted for several times. It's the lesser of two evils situation personified. Teachers do not have to have a doctors excuse. Either do city workers, the police, the health department or any other city hall employees. The Mayor himself does not have to follow this rule. Only the firefighters do.

The summer before last, the firefighters, who are not allowed to strike (phew) by law, held a noisy march across the Mass Pike, a main thoroughfare that spans the entire state east to west and happens to run right through our city. They caused a 25 mile backup on the highway, but they also let people outside of our city know about their plight. I completely support them in their efforts to earn some exposure to their ridiculous problem.

Today they marched from the centre of our city to City Hall and held another noisy protest. City Hall isn't in the middle of anything, it's far from any commercial thoroughfare and this protest could only disrupt the traffic on a couple of streets, which the police closed in advance. There were easy workarounds for people needing to get from the centre to City Hall including another major road.

WCVB, Channel 5, which is located in the next town and should know better, reported about this protest but didn't mention why the firefighters are so angry. They showed a newsclip of the Mayor basically telling why he isn't going to budge (because he's a stubborn ass would be the correct assessment in my book) and didn't mention the whole issue of sick leave. They did mention however, that the last protest blocked the highway and caused a mega-traffic backup. Because after all, what is more important to the story, that some folks were inconvienced on their way home from work, or that the firefighters have been contractless for almost 5 years? It seems to me that not allowing a spokesperson from the firefighters to explain why they are protesting really slanted the story in the wrong direction. Not surprising, since local news sucks pretty much all the time, but this is the BEST of the local news channels.

Most everyone in town supports the firefighters. The Mayor is fighting an uphill battle, and it is one he really doesn't need, considering that a special election is being held to vote for his pet project, the new high school, which he has tried to bulldoze (pun intended) through regardless of the citizen's opinions on this very high prices homage to the Mayor. But that's another post.

I'm a big supporter of the firefighters. They are vastly underpaid, perform a valuable service to the community, work horrible hours and are housed in firestations that are so substandard that the health department would condemn them if they were private housing. That they have to protest to get public support speaks volumes to me about how poorly they have been treated the past 5 years by a Mayor that just refuses to listen to reason.

And Susan Wornek, please work less on bleaching your hair and more on getting the story right. Thanks...

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