IAFF Ethics: Some Lions Roar

The Cover-up Continues, But With a Twist

The IAFF executive board met a few weeks ago here in Washington, DC.

The Sunday evening they arrived, a “special committee” met in closed session with Larry Gold, an outside ethics attorney retained to probe General President Harold Schaitberger’s conflict-of-interest deals.

Alas, it was a thinly veiled cover-up conducted by board members who are themselves conflicted as Schaitberger prepares to lobby convention delegates for the board to receive a massive pay increase.

The special committee was comprised of vice presidents Mike Mullane (3rd district), Danny Todd (14th district), Lorne West, (6th district), Larry Osborne (12th district) and Paul Hufnagel, (8th district).

The full board apparently discussed the secret report from the special committee in a closed executive session and the report is not available for IAFF members to view.

It is a textbook example of how not to deal with ethical issues as the proven way to proceed is to provide complete transparency in all respects.

The house purchase was a blatant “in-your-face” conflict of ethical interest and the board’s decision to cover it up is sure proof that ethics at the IAFF are in complete disarray from the top down.

There was, however, an important ray of light.

When the board was back in open session vice president Paul Hufnagel made a motion for the IAFF to engage in a process to review the ethics policy and practice.  It was seconded by vice president Walsh.

It seems clear from comments made by various vice presidents that the super secret report suggests just that:  a review is both necessary and warranted.

But they were afraid that to admit that fact and to engage in the review now would “look bad” so near the convention.  So, they opted to bury it.

This, by the way, is textbook Schaitberger leadership:  to be hyper concerned about the appearance of an issue rather than the substance of it.  It is a prime characteristic of an overly political leader.

(As an aside, anybody who really knows Schaitberger will attest that had a staff member or vice president engaged in such a deal he would have “gone ballistic”, not over ethical concerns but rather that someone else did a deal, especially one he might have wanted a piece of.)

It is reported that vice president James Johnson (16th district) made a motion to table Hufnagel’s proposal.

It had only three dissenting votes:  Hufnagel, Walsh and Todd.

asiatic lion1

Three vice presidents out of sixteen showed an element of courage and fortitude in trying to do the right thing.

They were crushed by the Schaitberger opposition who are engaged in the hopeless task of covering up the massive ethical lapses at the IAFF.

Where felines are concerned there are lions and there are pussies.

Hufnagel, Walsh and Todd are the lions of the moment.

I’ll let you figure out who the pussies are.

IAFF Resolution 10 is needed now more than ever.

Care About Ethics and the Survival of Our Union?

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  • Black Daze says:


    Thanks for trying to engage the membership of the IAFF. Without your provocative dialogue, it would continue to be “business as usual” for Harry and the Huppets. Even still, they believe that no one will notice or question actions like tabling a motion to simply review a policy that has been shown to be inadequate to provide it’s intended purpose. Hopefully their inaction will give rise to a groundswell of support for Resolution 10.

    Unfortunately, too many (at least 13) of the 16 DVPs will direct their locals to oppose Res 10 for fabricated and incorrect reasons. They will rule just as they are ruled and punish those who would dare to question their decisions or directions (to better serve their corporate-minded master).

    Don’t give up on us – you are creating conversations … Transparency, if you will. Good will come from continuing the discourse and heightening the awareness of the masses. From them will come the pressure on leaders to do the right thing – even in the face of intense pressure from on high.

    Thank you again for shining a light in the blackness of the dark halls of 1750.

  • Jaime says:

    There’s an old Turkish proverb which states ‘a fish rots from the head down’. You’ve raised some serious questions about the moral character of GP Shaitberger. Clearly, the questions raised have been heard by the IAFF Executive Board. Firefighters mostly occupy a place of high esteem in the hearts and minds of the public we serve. Each one of us either earns trust by our actions ‘on the street’ and by the way we conduct ourselves off-duty, or we destroy it by the same measures. If the allegations raised against Shaitberger have no merit, why would he not demand a full and impartial review and report on the facts? As leader of our great union, the IAFF General President should exemplify the characteristics our collective reputation is built upon. What happens to the reputation all of us have spent years building in order to gain and maintain the trust of those we serve when those we elect as ‘leaders’ work to cover-up impropriety at the highest levels? I don’t know if Shaitberger is guilty of wrongdoing, but his reactions and the actions (or lack thereof) of his henchmen on the E-board speak volumes. We should know more than most; Where there’s smoke, there’s often fire. I don’t think a fish rots from the head down, it rots from the belly. In any democracy, empowerment begins with the individual member. We can either demand accountability and transparency from those we elect or be guilty of condoning the lack of it. If our great union becomes an example of corruption, it won’t be because Harold Shaitberger got a sweetheart deal on a piece of property on the backs of every IAFF member. It’ll be because we (the rank and file) elected leaders who lacked moral courage and looked the other way while he did it. I think Resolution 10 can be a watershed moment for the IAFF. We can stand for integrity, character and ethical behavior as a union or we can condone rot.

  • Dave Foreman says:

    I have always agreed the we are innocent until proven guilty. However, proving someone guilty is difficult when facts are concealed, investigations are not done by unbiased people free of conflicts and not subject to retaliation.

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