hydrangea blossoming

hydrangea blossoming
Hydrangea on the Edge of Blooming

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

This Is No Way to Spend Wednesday Nights

Just back from another Fire Commissioners' special meeting, the third meeting this month.  Well, they each get paid only $90 per meeting, so it could be worse from that perspective.

The news.  Mr. Meursing, who has a maybe-German accent that makes him hard (for me) to understand in a room with bad accoustics (which the fire hall has) started off by telling the 30+ attendees that he would tolerate no bad behavior, no clapping, no booing, no interrupting, none of that.  So, under the impression that he was in control of his inferiors (in fact, we were largely indifferent to him and could scarcely bear to speak to him), he maundered on a bit with the minutes being approved and the like; then appointing himself chairman. And then, he announced that the lawyers forbade them from discussing anything to do with the firing of Mr. Kiniski.

And, since that was really all the attendees wanted to discuss, they were indifferent largely to whether they spoke or not.  And mostly did not, though they were not exactly invited to do so at any time.

Then came the first dramatic act (this is like in script writing classes where they tell you that if you introduce a gun in Act 1, the gun must go off in Act III):  Mr. Gellatly had sent a resignation letter.  Meursing read all five lines to us and we learned that Mr. Gellatly was resigning because he longs to spend more time with his family.  I imagine so.  Whether that goes both ways was not placed in evidence.  Thus, Mr. Gellatly, goodbye and don't pick up your $90 on the way out because you didn't show up to say goodbye.

Last week, the piece (i don't know where to find the French accent marks) de resistance was interim Chief Carleton being thrown to the public wolves.  After a very bad performance then, however, the Commissioners remaining sent him out again to do their work.  Carleton bravely stood up and attempted to explain exactly what level of EMT services we have in Point Roberts or could have or used to have.  I don't know: maybe all of those things.  But he also talked a lot about what they have in Mt. Baker and Glacier, which might (or might not ) be of interest if I lived in Mt. Baker or Glacier.

He hammered hard, again and again (in the manner of a hammer, that would be), on his main point, which seemed to be that one person, even if he had an apartment at the Firehall could not provide paramedic services 24/7.  Part of the reason I lost interest in his performance was because I doubted that anyone thought that was the case.  There is a lot of casual talk about Nick's providing 24-hour paramedic service because he lives here, but no one of any sense thinks that means Nick would be providing 24/7 paramedic services.  He, like everyone else, has a life.  We know that.  But Mr. Carleton apparently does not know that.

And then he discussed typical paramedic salaries with us, in the clear belief that no one in the audience would know anything about it.  Unfortunately, I had just googled that information a few days ago, so I did have an opinion and some information on that topic but it didn't gibe with his so he got to tell me that "Google is wrong."  But, when I asked him where he got his figures, it turned out all he knew was his own salary, which included a 12% Bellingham bump and a 15% experience bump.  Thus (his eventual point), we would have to pay $240,000 a year to have three paramedics to get 24/7 coverage.  Yawn.

Finally, he sat down.  I'm sure he's a decent and ambitious young man (ambition has its place in the world), but he has let himself be used by the Commissioners twice in 8 days in a very bad way.  He is clearly not someone who learns quickly.

And then, I guess, the gun goes off and they announce a 40-minute retreat into Executive Session to discuss Mr. Carleton's contract and qualifications and our lawyer's papers with his lawyer's papers.  Except.  Ms. Olson of the APB read the rules about what can be discussed in executive session and it did not seem to include what they were planning to discuss.  Mr. Meursing, who suddenly didn't seem entirely to understand Olson's point (maybe he has the same accent hearing problem that I have), seemed to be willing, in a gentlemanly way, to accommodate her preferences as to what they could discuss and said, well then we won't discuss those things and maybe 20 minutes will be enough not to discuss those things.

So, the three left, about half the public left, and the rest of us waited for their return, in about 13 minutes, to the announcement that they weren't making any decisions tonight and, said Mr. Meursing, he hoped we would leave immediately in a quiet and orderly way.  And we did.  Good soldiers that we are; good citizens and all that. He also thanked us for behaving properly.  What a guy!  What a guy! He would teach his grandmother to suck eggs.  (A very old-timey expression.)

Now, pondering this wasted time, I can't help but think that his family is probably hoping that he might soon be wanting to spend more time with them.  I certainly am.


Anonymous said...

Good Lord.

Well written.

I'm speechless at the shenanigans of Putin A and Putin B (oh you named them so well).

Do we really have to put up with this kind of bullying for another two years? Or is it one year now?

Unrelated: They sure make it difficult to prove a real person is typing, not a robot.

Anonymous said...

I have been frustrated with the hill billy politics of County Fire districts for some time now. I have been recording meetings at WCFD7 because they do not follow the laws in regards to open public meetings and such.

I feel your frustration but encourage you and other citizens to stay involved in Commissioners meetings and even post recordings of those meetings whenever possible.

Great job with the writeup. I would have loved to listen to an audio recording of these clowns.

Arthur Reber said...

Excellent write-up, Jude. I feel like I was there --- and glad I wasn't.

FWIW, Commissioner Riffle and whoever gets appointed to fill Gellatly's slot will both be up for election in 2013.