A Tearful Goodbye
An emotional Richard Bowers announced via telephone conference yesterday that he would be leaving the department in the near future.
WTOP reports that, “On Feb. 1, Bowers said he had no plans to resign.”
He chose the teleconference, though he was speaking to no more than 1/3 of the members, because he “wanted to tell as many people as I could.”
The effect may have been personal but it was hardly inspiring.
The general rule in these cases is don’t “go live” unless you can hold it together.
That’s doubly true when not everybody may be as sorry as you are.
Here is the first sentence of his written statement:
“I have proudly and honorably served in the Fire and Rescue profession for almost 41 years. Of those 41 years, 10 of those years have been as a Fire Chief for Metropolitan Fire and Rescue Departments.”
Again, the message is about him rather than the organization.
It’s not till much later that we are told his reason for writing.
“I have informed County Executive Hill and Deputy County Executive Rohrer that effective April 30, 2018 I will retire as Fire Chief of the Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department. I will be pursuing other personal and professional endeavors and opportunities.”
After backing his every play, Sharon dropped Richie like a very hot potato, issuing the written equivalent of a dagger in the back.
“Fairfax County has appreciated Chief Bowers’ outstanding record for community outreach and engagement. Under his leadership Fire and Rescue personnel spent tens of thousands of hours going door-to-door proactively offering residents help with smoke alarm inspections and safety tips,” said Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chairman Sharon Bulova. “He headed our public safety team’s efforts during the World Police & Fire Games in 2015, earning accolades from participants and visitors from all over the world. With the chief’s enthusiastic hands-on support, charitable efforts like Fill-the-Boot for Muscular Dystrophy, jacket and backpack drives have helped the neediest of our community. The Board of Supervisors is committed to sustaining these positive efforts while ensuring a safe and positive work environment for all our brave men and women in uniform.”
Smoke detectors and safety tips?
Police and Fire Games?
Jacket and backpack drives?
Those are the marks of leadership?
Then the stiletto is plunged:
“The Board of Supervisors is committed to sustaining these positive efforts while ensuring a safe and positive work environment for all our brave men and women in uniform.”
Something that Chief Bowers could not do.
And Sharon Bulova, who has also failed to lead, allows the Hernandez case to go forward while calling for “a safe and positive work environment.”
Note to Sharon: You can do one or the other, but not both.
Fairfax has a new executive, Bryan Hill, and perhaps he is asserting his leadership with this move.
Or just doing Sharon’s dirty work.
Are Sharon and Bryan really serious about “ensuring a safe and positive work environment for all our brave men and women in uniform?”
If they are there is one way to show it-settle the Hernandez case now.
That’s a potent message that Fairfax leadership, at the highest levels, will walk the walk of workplace equity.
Anything else is talk and talk is cheap.
Settle the Hernandez Case and Move Forward.