Fairfax: Stephanie White’s Reply

Stephanie writes:

Serious question Eric, what year did you retire? I’m asking because I think that the men and women have done an amazing- truly amazing job of protecting the memory and reputation of Miss Mittendorf. If my memory serves me correctly you retired before this occurred. Had you been on the job, or spent time around certain individuals, or had more of an understanding of how social media trolls work- I think you would have a more well rounded view. 
But you don’t. Plain and simple. I’m honestly sick and tired of reading over regurgitated and tired opinions about my department and what men or females not in this department think. Sure their are a couple of disgruntled dinosaurs who have a poor opinion of this department. I think had women raised their voices against some of their nasty behaviors years ago- they’d find themselves on the different end of a law suit. 
In short, chill. Quit it. Find a new subject. The more this subject is brought up, the harder it is for the men and women of Fairfax to bite their tongues and protect the memory of the deceased. We’ve frankly been shit on, but we’ve done the right thing and kept our mouth shut. So kindly sir take your retired sales on to the next subject and let the folks still on the job continue to build the department we serve. Not tear it down.

_________________________________________________________________________________

Dear Stephanie:

Thank you for taking the time to write.

Denying the details of Nicole’s death and the craven sexual harassment which continues to predominate, as a way of honoring her, is an ethical disaster and an odd choice.
 
I am struck, as well, by your choice of words when you say “my department”, former Chief Bowers used to use the same language.  Neither of you own it, you never did and you never will.  You are custodians tasked with preserving excellence, humanity and fairness; custodianship requires hewing to ethical principles.  Unfortunately, many of you are abject failures where it counts the most because silence equals acceptance and consent.
 
By the way, I can assure you that I know “how social media trolls work.”
 
If, as you seem to say, I am a “disgruntled dinosaur”, I am also a custodian as you are, and I am a member of our beloved union, as well; I care about both deeply and I’m not going anywhere.
 
About the post generally, I have found after nearly a decade of writing that people, with very few exceptions, only “like” or share items they agree with or find worthy.  In less than 48 hours, the post has been shared over a thousand times — people find it useful even if you don’t.
 
You say, “We’ve done the right thing and kept our mouth shut.”
 
I can assure you that in affairs such as these, keeping your mouth shut is never the “right” thing.
 
The Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King, Jr. taught us that:
 
“We shall overcome because the arc of the moral universe is long but it bends toward justice.”
 
His was a call to action; some food for thought.
 
Sincerely,
 
Eric Lamar
 
Eric Lamar served as a Fairfax firefighter for 22 years before retiring in 1998; he has been a member of IAFF Local 2068 for 43 years and served as its president for part of that time.
 
 
 
 

7 Comments

  • Stephanie White says:

    Mr. Lamar. To each their own, here’s to the new generation of leaders. May they create a better future for my department (as in the one that employs me, not the ones that don’t employ me) every year. Enjoy retirement.

  • Mike Mohler says:

    Stephanie, I understand how Eric disclosing truths about a department we all love can sting. Problem is if you think this new generation of leaders has somehow made things better I have news for you. I’ll give you just one example. You have among you three officers, one a station Captain and two Battalion Chiefs who thought it was ok to text a subordinate female at home while her husband was working in another department. She was a mother at home taking care of her child. They from Kilroys inappropriately sent her numerous texts attempting to get her come party with them at Kilroys. Her officers also sent her a lude text that I’m certain would have upset your husband had it been you. Yes they are still there working in command roles. The Captain here , at an earlier time, sexually harassed my daughter while she was a waitress at Kilroys. He asked her to give him a blow job. Get your head out of the sand and call these low lifes out. If interested I would be willing to answer any question you may have about this especially about my daughter. I hope you understand. By the way the female subordinate was interviewed by Guy Morgan. He told her she was restricted by some phony illegal GAG order. Please continue to do a good job and be safe. Mike

  • KS says:

    Stephanie, I am confused. You don’t think the retirees, who have more time in then you, should comment on the current environment because they are not in it, and in the same breath you make false assumption about a prior generation of women, of which you are not a part, for not raising their voices. If you would ever like to see all the battles we fought prior to your arrival, please let me know. You may be surprised.

  • Stephanie White says:

    Kathleen, you misinterpreted what I wrote. MY generation didn’t speak up about much of the bullying that the prior generation graced us with when we came in to the department. Shame on us.

  • Stephanie White says:

    I’m sorry let me clarify even further- the bullying the prior generation of WOMEN inflicted on us. Let’s be every clear on that point.

    • KS says:

      Stephanie, interesting perspective. In all seriousness, I would love to hear what nastiness you experienced from other women. This is definitely not something I experienced and it throws a new twist to an old story. If you would ever be up to share your experiences, I would be interested to see what you went through.

  • Sally Kraut says:

    Written by a Female Lieutenant currently working for Fairfax County Fire and Rescue, please read my comment, I’m someone who has worked here for 14 years:

    I can’t believe I’m commenting because I wrote Eric’s CLICK BAIT articles off a long time ago, but this came up at work (I guess that’s what you’re looking for right?)

    “In less than 48 hours, the post has been shared over a thousand times — people find it useful even if you don’t.”

    This is the saddest part to me, what you wrote in your comment to Stephanie. That people are going to see this article and share it with other people who are going to think that Fairfax County Fire and Rescue mistreats, disrespects and harasses women – when they don’t. Are there a few bad apples? Sure, there are bad male AND female apples. Is the fire department, our fire department, worse than any other place of business? I don’t think so – not by a longshot. There are a minority of males who act inappropriately and there are a minority of females who act inappropriately. I know this because I had to take a step back after Nicole passed and really evaluate it and the department as a whole as more information came in over the past few years. What I’ve come to realize after it all, after 14 years of living, working and teaching here, is that personal accountability on the parts of those misbehaving or acting inappropriately is lacking, and – again – this is from both men and women. And leadership was lacking in making sure that personal accountability was being taken seriously. I’m not excluding myself from that judgment. If anything, after Nicole passed I have constantly evaluated and reevaluated my own actions and behavior. Making sure folks are being held personally accountable starts first with that individual and then at the shift level, with the LT’s and Captains, enforcing those standards. The department has taken steps to better educate our leaders and I am confident that all this education will, in turn, get us somewhere better in that regard. But, are women targeted, mistreated and harassed just because they’re women? Absolutely not, Absolutely not. Not in my own personal experience and not in the 14 years of females I’ve known, spoken to and worked with has anyone been treated in just that way. If there is any type of harassment happening, my opinion is that it stems from the very competitive environment that does exist in our culture here. And that competitive culture, I believe, affects both men and women alike. But, perhaps, men are less willing to talk about it. And that’s unfortunate and, I hope, is something that can change. But women being mistreated, held back or harassed just because they’re women? Nope doesn’t exist in this culture here. Sorry to ruin all you journalists’ field day. It really saddens me now to think that others outside of our department believe these lies to be true. Lies compiled from a few people’s one sided stories and opinions and journalists willing to take those stories and run with them. People who have not directly worked here either recently or ever, willing to put a catchy headline to a few opinions and place biased blame and shame on an entire department. It’s just plain wrong.

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