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Guest MINDSETTER™ Tom Kenney: Commissioner, Deputy Commissioner Tell Different Stories

Thursday, April 07, 2016

 

Commissioner Pare

In the last 16 years of my career as a Providence firefighter I have been a vocal critic of the leaders and policy makers of the department. I have not been shy about calling out the mayor, the council members or the chiefs of the department. I have written to and about them collectively and individually – publicly and personally. In spite of this I was never fired, put up on departmental charges or disciplined in any way. The reason for this is that I was always very careful to write or speak only facts that I could back up. Even with commentary on line I was careful to only state the truth. I believed that by sticking to facts I could not be punished. I also realized that if I misspoke the facts that my credibility would be forever gone.
                             
During the Cicilline administration I wrote many columns and letters against his actions. I also wrote many departmental reports critical of then Chief of Department George Farel and his staff. They, I was convinced, were abusing their powers and I would call them out on this from time to time. His (Chief Farel) way of punishing me was to deny my requests for anything at all any time he had the opportunity.
 
When Steven Pare was appointed the Commissioner of Public Safety in Providence I requested a meeting with him. I told him that I had criticized the past administration and the current Command Staff of the PFD because I believed they weren’t performing their duties in the best interest of the department. I told him my concerns and assured him that I had faith in his integrity and that I would stop publicly criticizing the department now that someone of his reputation was commanding. That was around 2011 and I believe I never wrote a single critical article about the leadership of the department again.
 
That is, until Mayor Elorza and Commissioner Pare implemented the 3 platoon system in August. I wrote two commentaries in the Journal and immediately the Commissioner began investigating my work record and to attack me publicly. I subsequently wrote rebuttals that showed that 80% of what he wrote about me in his Op/Ed attack and what he told the Journal about me was complete inaccuracies and exaggerations. He never addressed my rebuttals. It is hard to argue against facts.
 
He and the mayor have repeatedly stated that I was wrong in stating in my commentaries that the PFD was short handed, exhausted and working far too many hours. They denied that there was any effect on public or firefighter safety due to their new work schedule. They both denied that the system had any effect on injuries.
 
Some of Pare’s direct quotes were:

 
”The new 3 platoon system is more efficient and stable without sacrificing safety for the public and our firefighters”.
 
“At present, the department is fully staffed for its 3 platoon system. Kenney and others have suggested that we need to hire 100 or more new firefighters”.
 
“Kenney suggests that firefighters are sustaining injuries at unprecedented rates because the new system is forcing them to the point of dangerous exhaustion. This is not possible”.
 
“It is my professional opinion that this (unprecedented rates of injuries) is intentional abuse of the system and it is intended to drive up firefighter costs”.
 
Direct quotes from the Deputy Commissioner of Public Safety recently:
 
 “…additional firefighters will also help reduce fatigue, reduce the number of line-of-duty injuries, reduce overtime, increase response time and increase firefighter and citizen safety”.
 
“Further, overworked and fatigued firefighters make poor decisions, are injured more frequently and place themselves and their colleagues at risk”.
 
“Without these new firefighters and funding, the (Providence Fire Department) will continue a decline in operational safety. Members are working 60 to 80 hours each week. In addition to being fatigued, members are performing their duties below nationally recognized engine company and ladder standards”.
 
 Tell me again who is more likely to be telling the truth…the firefighter who has never been disciplined or challenged by the department on the facts or the Commissioner (bought and paid for politician) who directly contradicts his Deputy Commissioner?
 

 

Related Slideshow: Providence Firefighter Tweets

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Paul Doughty responds to a post by Elorza on another subject, to steer the fight back to the firefighters.

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A photo meme that was orginated by firefighters in social media, before being used on signs during a recent firefighter rally at City Hall.

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The fighfighters take to Twitter to convey their positions on a number of issues. 

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Local 799's Derek Silva tweets a cartoon "fantasty" Tweet with Elorza. 

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Elorza's post recognizing fire chief Cunha's service gets minimal interaction.

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On May 21, when Elorza announced the platoon shift, he tweeted instead about a volunteer event he attended -- and not of the firefighter decision.

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Other press coverage of Elorza is often commented on by Doughty on Twitter.

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Doughty uses Twitter to show the contrast of a prior Elorza statement, versus his current position. 

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A pro-union tweet garners significant Twitter interaction.

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Doughty takes to social media to tell firefighter supporters than any threats against the Mayor would not be tolerated.

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Doughty often comments on other actions by Mayor Elorza in an effort to bolster the firefighters' position.

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Doughty takes immediate social action after the Mayor weighs on about the recent court decision. 

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Media coverage on the fight is often retweeted by Doughty -- something which Elorza does not do with firefighters. 

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A pro-union post retweeted by Doughty; the firefighters often engage other unions' support.

 
 

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