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Friday, August 17, 2012

My Goodness! Civil Disorder in P.R.

The recent APB account of the doings among the Fire Commissioners is certainly concerning.  It's clear that a high level of dissension has been developing there over the last few months.  But now, with the abrupt and, apparently, causeless firing of Fire Chief Nick Kiniski, it's broken out into something that clearly rivals the trash wars of a few years ago.  That does not give one a good feeling.

It's not easy to see what it is exactly they are arguing about.  A quoted assertion from one of the Commissioners (Stan Riffle) does not help much: "The question of having a part-time chief is our ilk, with a paid administrator.”  "Our ilk"?  What could that possibly mean?  The article has had one editing correction, so I'm assuming  that is what Mr. Riffle actually said or it would have been corrected at the same time.  

No wonder we don't exactly know what is going on.  What language does Mr. Riffle speak?

The problems go back several years ago when the Fire Commission put up a pricey tax levy doubling their previous tax rate.  The voters approved.  The purpose of the tax increase was, in part, to improve advanced life support services on the Point.  At that time, Mr. Kiniski was just finishing his almost 1-year training as a paramedic with advanced life support training.  the purpose of this was, as I understood it, to give the public here greater medical protection on a full-time basis because Kiniski lived on the Point.  The County paid for some portion of those training costs. Now, that training has been completed and implemented, although with substantial bickering about what supervision the Fire Chief would be under, etc.   In any case, by firing Kiniski, the Commissioners (or the two who were at the meeting) have ensured that we no longer have the full-time, on-Point paramedic service we were promised and that we paid for. 

The additional problem with the levy was that, when the voters approved it, the voters did not know that the property assessments of P.R. were going to be dramatically increased.  As a result, since the levy was a percentage increase, the Fire Commission got a significantly larger amount of money than they expected.  Some folks--tax-paying folks--thought the extra money from the levy ought to be returned in some way.  The Fire Commission felt otherwise.

So there's a lot of ill will afloat here.  Those who hold that the people who go into government have a special obligation to act thoughtfully and carefully and fairly and absolutely transparently are surely wondering how the Fire Chief whom we just trained to be a paramedic to protect our lives got fired for no reason in a closed meeting.

The next Fire Commission meeting is to be held  at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, September 12, at the Benson Road district offices.  Perhaps some more civil  resolution will be reached, or some persuasive explanation will be offered in the interim; but if not, I'd think the Fire Commissioners owe Point Roberts residents   some explanations.  This appears to be no way to run anything.  Indeed, if they can't manage things better than this, they ought to get out of the business of managing.

(Note: to follow the doings of the Fire Commissioners over the past few years, check out the APB archives).


Anonymous said...

I was outraged when I got the email about Nick's firing for no grounds, as admitted by Riffle. The whole special meeting was out of order. The vote was out of order.

These people have put us all at risk because, as the article states "“As of tonight, we have no advanced life support on the Point,” Riffle said. Meursing disagreed, stating that when Carleton is here the service would still be available". What? When Carleton is here? So until this is resolved me must have emergencies by appointment? Good grief.

I was pleased about the protest this evening. I wish we civilians could have joined in. I'm sure the line of emergency vehicles plus civilian vehicles would have been a very long one.

Maybe a petition? Would the commissioners even look at it?

The way all this went down makes my skin crawl.

Anonymous said...


Some time ago the APB removed their comments section beneath artciles. This would be a perfect time to put it back to see what the community thinks of this ridiculous illegal vote.