… they love me not…

The crisis of confidence (here | here) in Baltimore Fire Chief William J. Goodwin is coming to a head on the heels of a devasting report of investigation into the death of firefighter cadet Racheal Wilson. The Baltimore Sun reports:

In a unanimous voice vote last night, about 50 of the city Fire Department’s top brass said they had no confidence in embattled Chief William J. Goodwin Jr.

The call by members of the Baltimore Fire Officers’ Union, representing 325 lieutenants, captains and battalion chiefs, follows a similar voice vote for the chief to step down by the union for 1,300 rank-and-file firefighters.

The vote by the officers of the Baltimore Fire Department is echoed by a vote of the firefighters union:

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Like the officers union, the local representing the rank-and-file said it was sending paper ballots to all of its members, hoping for a massive vote of no-confidence that would demonstrate the depth of opposition to Goodwin.

“We want to make it perfectly clear the feelings of the membership,” said Rick Schluderberg, the president of Firefighters Local 734 union. “If they [the fire chief and his spokesman] want confirmation, we’re going to give it to them.”

More drama below the fold.

I hold no brief for Chief Goodwin but these two votes are both sad and hilarious. Sad because we are supposed to take them for more than they are: a political mugging of Chief Goodwin. Hilarious because the two organizations condemning Chief Goodwin are at least as culpable as Chief Goodwin for the tragedy last February as the Chief but you can’t fire labor unions.

It was the officers union who provided the leadership at the BFD academy and those members, three of which have been fired and a couple more will probably soon be let go, were directly and unambiguously responsible for Cadet Wilson’s death. The firefighter’s union provided the instructors who has rather haphazardly set about conducting the training exercise.

Goodwin has rubbed virtually all echelons in the BFD the wrong way. He has instituted a policy of rotating officers between firehouses so as to prevent the go-along-get-along logrolling that has prevented disciplining of BFD members sorely in need of it. The firefighters local believes Chief Goodwin has sold them down the river on contract negotiations. So he can’t be all bad.

Yet the incident that killed Cadet Wilson was egregious because even though Chief Goodwin was not involved, and should not have been involved, in the planning and conduct of a training exercise he was responsible for how training was conducted and for the actions of those whom he appointed to run the academy.

For that reason, and not the opportunistic “vote of no confidence” by the two firefighters unions, Mayor Dixon needs to require Chief Goodwin to resign or retire.
The next chief needs to come from outside Baltimore and he needs to report for duty ready to clean house.

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