And The Evidence Mounts
This is a story about a young woman dying while grown men complain about the bad news they have to hear.
Oh, the agony.
One guy said, ” I think it’s time for you to write something good…”
“All you want to do is beat us down.”
Who’s got the pacifier?
Dave McCormack, RIP
My first boss at the IAFF was the venerable Dave McCormack, former FDNY Assistant Chief and captain at 58 Engine in Harlem.
Whenever he heard someone bullshitting themselves he would roll his eyes and say, “We can tell any lie we want as long as we don’t start believing them ourselves.”
His point: get real and then get over yourself.
My colleagues need the spirit of Dave in their lives as they are believing their own bullshit, en masse.
Is the Medicine Too Bitter?
Their criticism of my criticism is that “There is nothing constructive in your writings.”
How abut this, “self-reflection and assessment is much the proper course.”
Or this:Â Most of all, Statter made a strong call for transparency, calling for frequent updates and that the investigation go wherever it leads.”
Or this, “As part of the call for transparency Bowers should provide a complete accounting of any contact his administration had with Nicole in the weeks leading up to her suicide. Â Such an accounting would include not just visits to the â€œofficeâ€ but also phone calls, texts, emails, etc. Â Bowers needs to be completely open and transparent as he proceeds, revealing all he knows, as soon as he knows it.”
Or this, “This is the time to search our souls, lay the cards on the table, let truth prevail.”
Or this, “Make sure the tough questions get asked, and answered.
Or this, “The Board of the Local should meet immediately to take the following steps:
1) Â Take a formal position protesting the Fire and Rescue Department assuming any role in an investigation of Nicoleâ€™s death.
2) Â Petition that the Fairfax County Police or the FBI be responsible for fully examining the circumstances of her passing.
3) Â Hire a regarded and experienced criminal attorney to provide the local and the membership with a legal brief identifying criminal statutes that may be used to prosecute those suspected of harassment and bullying.
4) Lobby the Board of Supervisors, the Commonwealthâ€™s Attorney and the press to keep the issue a top priority.
Or this, “The right course would be for the Fairfax County Federation of Civic Associations to appoint a panel with full authority to investigate the incident, including holding public hearings, Â and to issue a report to the Board of Supervisors. ”
Or this, “Bowerâ€™s first act should be to provide a report covering the last five years detailing every effort he has made to keep Fire & Rescue Department members trained up on workplace tolerance and anti-harassment and bullying.”
Or this, “Letâ€™s not let anonymous cowards employing phony and unfairly applied sexual rules destroy the vision of a progressive and fair Fire and Rescue Department.
I see the problem.
I spend a lot of time around fifth-graders and some are relentlessly praised by their handlers for their inherent specialness.
Any critique must be bookmarked by sugary compliments lest they feel the awful sting of reality.
The fire and rescue department is now similarly run where the facts of life are drowned out by brotherly bullshit bonhomme chit chat.
The fire department is a red sandbox and the toys are leather helmets and tiller trucks while the kiddies romp about in shorts.
Hugs all around.
Catch the News Lately?
As a learned friend said the other day, “the red wall is crumbling.”
Those stones whacking you on the head represent the reality of an organization awash in a devastating crisis where leaders have aided and abetted the creation of a culture where women are blatantly victimized.
This is a place where an officer once said the department was full of c**ts and runts.
Each day brings a new revelation or sordid detail about a sexualized workplace targeting women, usually by those in power.
Good news, kiddies, is in very short supply.
Leadership Vacuum: Playing to the Kitchen Table
Dave StatterÂ recently enumerated the rapidly mounting questions for fire chief Bowers.
One senses that facing the tough issues is not Bowers’ forte as he is much better at giving the fifth graders what they want.
The firehouse parlance for this is playing to the kitchen table where the idea is to keep the toddlers happy with sweets whilst cooing soft lullabies in their ears.
But, the results, as we are seeing, can be devastating.
Nor has the local done their job.
Niemiec and the board are at best complicit in failing to act and then failing to react.
They are both subordinate and subservient when their obligation is to question, protect and defend.
They have cast their lot with a fire chief who clams up and then hums loudly when answers are demanded.
It was an honor to work for Dave McCormack who was a leader both by training and instinct.
He was also a great reader and we would occasionally trade books or talk about them.
It occurs to me that Dave, if musing, might see the current Fairfax leadership failures, both labor and management, through the eyes of William Manchester, surely one of the greatest biographers of Winston Churchill.
Churchill, overbearing, over-drinking and often exasperating, faced the crisis of his life at age 65 when as a House of Commons leader he chose to fight the injustice of Hitler rather than appease him.
Churchill offers an object lesson on eschewing so called “good news” when reality says otherwise.
Stand up and speak out for justice and fairness.
Don’t appease bullies and predators.
You might be surprised at the difference you can make.
Warning: Â courage (and maturity) required.