Kookie Byrnes “Twin” and IAFF VP Gets Days Off in FB Dust-up


77 Sunset Strip, Hialeah Style


Attorney, fire chief and blogger Curt Varrone writes, “Eric Johnson is a firefighter with the Hialeah Fire Department, and vice-president of the Hialeah Association of Firefighters, IAFF Local 1102.”  To this bio should be added Mr. Johnson’s public relations work as he pokes fun at the apparently ubiquitous Hialeah Latino population on his Face Book (FB) page:

“I have a system. Just add an ‘o’ to any English word and bam! It works. For example, how ya doin ‘o’ You wanna go to the hospital ‘o’ I just learned that you can’t do that when you say is this your home though. Ha Ha.”

Mr. Johnson, apparently not one to shy away from the spotlight, did an on-camera interview where “Kookie” came out in full force.  He offered a defense of his FB postings including a bizarre colloquy on patients and medicare entitlement.

The medicare post:

“Ha Ha Ha… Jew forgot dat I hab da Medicare… Jew must talk me.”

Attorney Varrone weighs in on the the social media/First Amendment implications while promising that help is on the way because, “We will be discussing these issues and more in the Strategies for Managing Fire Departments in the  Digital Age class.”

Do we really need a class to figure this out?

Kookie uses language that is at the very least blatantly disrespectful and potentially racist.    Linguistically he swaggers.

(By the way, being married to a Cubano and having a Black friend does not cure one of racist behavior.)

Sorry to be the bearer of bad news but social media is media.  When one posts their thoughts and doings in a public place, they will sometimes be noticed.  But, wasn’t that the point of posting in the first place?

Is Kookie hiding behind the “protections” afforded by public sector employment, the thin thread of the First Amendment and his union leadership position?  His is a throne of entitlement as he takes the taxpayer’s money and then scorns them for their culture and their needs.

Implicit in Kookie’s ravings is the notion that he is better than they are.  He is so smug that he follows it up with a TV appearance enshrining his role as a public persona thus detonating any privacy claims.  Kookie can’t have it both ways.

Here’s the problem with the “kookies” of the fire/rescue world:  The want to eat their cake and have it, too.  They wish to be seen as civic heroes while being free to trash the public, publicly.  Management and labor, career and volunteer, they make fun of the customer they elected to serve as part of feeling good about themselves.  (There are better ways to feel good, but these too,  are best accomplished in private.)

And speaking of management and labor, you are responsible for creating an atmosphere of tolerance and respect.  If you are speaking out of both sides of your mouth or are crying “poor mouth” where diversity training is concerned, think twice before you drop the hammer because you are also responsible.

We’re so special we think we are not only way above them all, but that we can also have it both ways.

I remember the real Kookie, who did good work as a car valet at Dino’s, a job that might still be available for those that may be looking.

The tips, they say, are good.



(Sources:  Fire Law, Miami Herald)

[Relentless 50’s parody entirely intended.)



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