Tuesday, June 30, 2009

The Inequities of the Coverage of Prov FF's

There have been many columns, editorials and letters-to-the-editor on the subject of firefighters in general, and Providence firefighters in particular since the US Conference of Mayors. These writings have been almost exclusively against the firefighters. I’ve counted at least fourteen against and only a single letter in favor of the firefighters – and that letter was written by me.

I have to voice my dissatisfaction with the number of letters or postings that ProJo has allowed to be printed or posted on their website. I know there have been many more letters sent on our behalf but they are not shown to the public. I believe there has been a conscious misrepresentation of the support of the Providence firefighters.

Most of all I have to voice my horror at the amount of misinformation and outright lies that have been printed in this paper and voiced in radio ads regarding our ongoing struggle with the mayor. When I wrote to one of their editors complaining that a quote in an editorial, “…firefighters oppose the mayor’s plan to pay a bit of their healthcare…” was inaccurate because Providence firefighters had been proposing a 15% co-pay of our healthcare costs for over three years his reply was, “…the article states that you oppose the mayor’s plan to pay a bit, not that you oppose paying a bit. There’s a difference.”

Is he kidding? Is this representative of the ProJo’s “impartial” stating of the facts? Is it any wonder that the general public sees the Providence firefighters under a less than favorable light? Under the circumstances I think it’s a credit to the professionalism Providence firefighters have shown (and continue to show) on a daily basis that all the fire stations in the city haven’t been burned to the ground.

As for the lies that Mayor Cicilline spews in his radio ads about Providence firefighters being the highest paid firefighters in the country, this is an outright lie. Providence firefighters are not even in the top three departments with regard to the highest paid firefighters in RI! The $132,000 per firefighter Cicilline claims that each Providence firefighter costs the city in salary and benefits is more like 70K to 79K per year, depending on rank and length of service. There ought to be a law that states that such lies cannot be broadcast on a public radio station. There ought to be a law that so-called large metropolitan newspapers be held accountable for printing the truth.

Providence firefighters will always be there for the citizens we serve. We only wish that they hear the facts of our dispute before they cast us as enemies of the state. Take the time to speak to a firefighter about the issues and if you still feel we’re being unreasonable and state your knowledgeable opinion we will listen. Rattling off false accusations spoon fed by politicians and editorial comments do nothing to help resolve this longstanding dispute.