It’s Time For The Times Union To Be The Newspaper Jacksonville Deserves

As we come out of the holidays, the Florida Times Union has again fired up their engines in an attempt to convince everyone that the City of Jacksonville is being sucked into a black hole because of the Police and Fire Pension Fund.  And as they have done in the past, they have inserted more slant than fact into their story.

In April of 2013, a settlement was reached between the City of Jacksonville and the Jacksonville Police and Fire Pension Fund in mediation sanctioned by a FEDERAL judge. Times Union Propaganda Minister Frank Denton then filed suit against the city and the fund, citing violation of sunshine laws.  Recently, local judge Waddell Wallace issued a ruling in favor of Denton and the TU, citing that the deal, in his opinion, did in fact violate sunshine laws.

This led to the Times Union trumpeting their “victory” on the front page of their paper and website, heralding Wallace’s decision as a monster victory for those fighting for sunshine.  In all of their excitement of winning however, the Times Union never posted Wallace’s ruling on their website.  Why would a newspaper that puts everything on its website (employee salary databases, sex offender databases, FCAT scores, the lawsuits they file, etc,) not put this moment of glory on their website for all to see????

It is simple….Because if you read the entire ruling, you know Wallace punted.  That is not front page sensationalism.  That is not a victory for sunshine.  The TU can’t have that.

If one was engaged enough to read the ruling, one would find Wallace’s decision leaves a little caveat at the end….

Defendants shall not be in violation of this judgment of injunction if they are ordered by a federal court, based on federal law, to conduct mediation negotiations in private; provided that the parties have previously informed the federal court that they are subject to this injunction, and have taken all reasonable steps to seek a waiver of the local rales for the federal district to allow the mediation to be conducted in public for the purpose of carrying out the mandates in the constitution and statutes of the State of Florida that collective bargaining with governmental units be conducted in public.

So again I ask- Why does a newspaper that posts all of its achievements online for everyone to read not post this apparent significant and noteworthy ruling for all to see??

After reading this latest attempt at deceiving its dwindling readership, and realizing that this is the time of year that we review the previous year’s events, I decided to recap the TU in 2013 in just a few short paragraphs.

Wednesday October 30th, 2013

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The Times Union, using front page font reserved for events that have changed history forever, reports that the Police and Fire Pension Fund is one of the worst in the nation, based upon this free report from The Pew Foundation.  It is pasted on the front page for all to see.

At no time has the Times Union run the first story on the negative effects the Pew Foundation has had in other areas of the nation or that it is funded by the same billionaires that destroyed Enron.  They travel from place to place and propose the same exact plan which destroys retirement plans for many. They just promote Pew’s offer for “Free help.”

Thursday October 31st and/or Friday November 1st, 2013

It is somewhere in these two days that it is realized the big anti pension article from Wednesday was incorrect.  This was obvious as the Times Union had already begun writing the story for the weekend edition.

Saturday November 2nd, 2013

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The Times Union prints a story about the previous Pew report and how the numbers were inaccurate.  This story is bumped to the Metro section and ran on the Saturday where the entire city is immersed in the Florida/Georgia game and festivities.

When asked about the move to the Metro section, the Times Union hid behind the big Charlie Crist for Governor announcement as if no one knew that was coming.  Charlie Crist had only looked like he was running for the previous year.  But, this was apparently more breaking news to the Times Union than the fact that they misinformed the public yet again.

Sunday March 5th, 2013

The Times Union runs a piece on a UNF poll titled “Poll finds some surprising support for tax increases.”  It centers on a poll conducted by UNF that covers many facets of life in Jacksonville, asking about such things as infrastructure improvements and maintaining libraries.  However, the TU begins the second paragraph with an assault on the Police and Fire Pension Fund.  It concludes its attack with “Other Results of the Poll,” making one think the pension was part of the poll.

Amazingly enough, if you read the poll conducted by UNF, it doesn’t even have the word pension in it.  There is no question on pensions.  There is no mention of police officers and fire fighters. The Times Union deliberately deceived readers into thinking that UNF’s poll focuses on their contrived “pension crisis.”

And of course…..the newspaper that posts everything for you to read has no link to the poll in its article so you can’t read it.  But don’t worry, we got it for you right here.

These evident pieces of poor journalism show a slanted and malicious organization with an agenda.  The job of a community newspaper is supposed to be to report the news.  The Times Union has done Jacksonville and its citizens a huge disservice by promoting their slanted agenda for all to see.

This city has so much potential.  It has many good things going for it.  As this city’s only newspaper, the Times Union has an obligation to report to its constituents fair and accurate reporting, free of the opinions and grudges in its news stories.  This is what made newspapers of the past the great institutions they were.  Sadly, this version of the Times Union only soils the industry so many before them made respectable.

The Full Scope of “Never Forget”

Today marks a very solemn day in the fire service, as we reflect on the tragic events of this day in 2001, where our country was attacked and numerous Americans from all walks of life rose to the occasion to help others.

It’s days like these that define an entire generation.  You will always remember where you were and what you were doing when everything went down.  Unfortunately, many monumental days like this, such as D-Day, Pearl Harbor, and the Kennedy Assassination, seem to fade away as time goes on.  To combat that, our generation has repeatedly used the phrase “Never Forget.”

However, as time passes, other events occur that place the attacks further in the rear view mirror.  Hurricanes Katrina and Sandy, two wars, countless devastating wildfires, and multiple massive tornado outbreaks over the last decade have taken some of the spotlight off of what happened at the World Trade Center in New York, the Pentagon in Virginia, and on a field in Shanksville Pennsylvania on September 11th, 2001.  It is totally natural.  I understand.

Since we are going to use today to “Never Forget,” I wanted to really sit down and expand on the things we truly need to never forget.  You see…..while most of America has moved on, parts of it hasn’t.  And we should never forget that.

Without saying, we should never forget the 343 fire fighters who made the ultimate sacrifice that morning.  Facing insurmountable odds, these men charged straight into not one, but two towering infernos and did their job.  One can only wonder how staggering the death toll would have been had it not been for fire fighters continuing to press on in the gravest of situations.

But we should also never forget the thousands of fire fighters that were there and survived that day.  Many were in the towers and the surrounding area when they collapsed.  Their actions were no less heroic.  However, since 9/11, they have had to endure the lingering effects of the traumatization that accompanies an event of this magnitude, such as pulling dead friends from the rubble, attending hundreds of funerals of fallen brother fire fighters, and assisting the families of the deceased, all while many are suffering from the effects of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder themselves.  Very few people, if any, will ever understand what these brave men and women have gone through since the attacks.

We should never forget the workers who, for months on end, responded to Ground Zero to search for victims and clear the rubble pile.  Day after day, week after week, month after month, people were pulling severed and crushed body parts out of the rubble and moving debris.  Many of these workers suffer from and/or have already died from respiratory diseases and rare cancers that have names I can’t even pronounce.

We should not forget the communities that have suffered through this ordeal.  Many neighborhoods have lost fathers, mothers, sons, and daughters who were also serving their communities as athletic coaches, scout troop leaders, church members, etc.  The  attacks of September 11th, 2001 has rocked many communities to its core, just about affecting every community organization in these neighborhoods in one way or another.

Most of all, we should never forget the families that have suffered through this tragedy.  Many fire fighter wives have become widows way too early.  A lot of their children will never truly know their father.  For the next generation, there will be many kids out there experiencing their first little league base hit, scoring their first touchdown or goal, attending prom, graduating high school, walking down the aisle, and having their own children, without their father present to cheer them on, with their only solace coming from someone saying “Your father would have been proud.”  To forget what they have endured over the first part of their lives would be a travesty.

I can go on and on about all the things we should never forget about this day.  However, it is most important that we “Never Forget” about the magnitude of the day, the heroic actions of many, and the lingering effects this event has and will have for our generation in the years to come.

What Type Of City Do We Want This To Be?

As the pension issue limps on, you will hear lots of rhetoric from our local politicians about how they want to make sure they “protect those who protect us” and “make sure the pension deal is good for the employees and the taxpayer.”  And then of course there is the one old question politicians love to ask- “What type of city do we want this to be?”

This got me thinking.  What type of city do we want Jacksonville to be?  Judging by recent media reports, It doesn’t appear anyone is willing to tackle the question being asked.

In mid June, I embarked on a little experiment and began tracking news articles from across the Jacksonville media landscape to see how much attention is paid to issues that lower the quality of life in our city.  Among the astonishing results:

5 Detained in Apparent Acid Bomb Attack
Woman Shot In Home Invasion Attempt
Two Charged in Meth Making That Closed The Main Street Bridge
1 Killed, 1 Injured After Multiple Robbery Shootings Near Avondale
2 Arrested in Jacksonville Crime Spree On Westside
Teens Found Overdosing At Huguenot Park
Business Owner Kills Customer, Police Say
Jacksonville Man Shot After Fight Over Friday Night Card Game
Suspect Who Battered Jacksonville Police Officer Is On The Loose
Naked Child Found Swimming In Jacksonville Beach Retention Pond
Man Shot And Killed Early Saturday Morning in Jacksonville
Two Killed In Shooting In Jacksonville Restaurant Parking Lot
Man Shot and Killed on Florida Avenue in Jacksonville
Woman, 72, Shot By Home Invader; Husband, 74, Returns Fire
Shooting Near Wacko’s Leaves One Person Injured
16 Year Old Raped Walking To Friend’s House on Jacksonville’s Westside
Four in Custody Following Northside Shooting, Robbery Attempt
Women Shot And Killed In Jacksonville Early Friday, Found On Driveway
Two Women Hospitalized After Fire/Shooting At Jacksonville Motel Six

This doesn’t include the gun shot, stabbing, and other assault victims that were responded to and didn’t warrant time in the paper or on the news.

There were also the tragic events surrounding Cherish Perrywinkle, the young girl kidnapped and murdered on the northside at the end of June or the events out in Jacksonville Beach on Memorial Day when a gang of thugs ran roughshod through a community event.  Both of these events sent shockwaves through our community.

During this same time, the local media landscape, especially the editorial board at 1 Riverside Avenue, has taken on the role of crusaders against the deadly police and fire pension fund, trying to make people believe this city will perish because of “those greedy fire fighters.”

During this pension attack, I haven’t seen one editorial piece dedicated to the quality of life in our city.  Not one pertaining to the above mentioned articles in an effort to openly debate where our city is really heading. No JCC or Jacksonville Chamber press releases. No “Blue Ribbon Panels.”  No polls.

Nothing.

None of these entities seem concerned that Arlington, once a picture perfect model for a city suburb, is full of crime.  How does a community that is home to a Mayor and three council members decline like that?  

In 2011, I conducted a scientific poll about issues in Jacksonville.  5% of the public at the time considered fire fighters and their pensions an issue.  The Times Union is harping on a subject that over 90% of the city doesn’t even see as an issue.  Now……..people concerned about being the victim of a violent crime?  I bet that would poll higher than 5%.

I understand that as Jacksonville continues to grow beyond the 1 million mark in population, you are going to undoubtedly have a growth in some crime.  I also understand that neighborhoods like Arlington will go through cycles.  Cities such as ours are going to have highs and lows.

But at the end of the day, the many entities who have their claws in city government and salivate and scheme to get their hands on $1.2 Billion in pension fund money must step up and have a constructive debate on where the quality of life in our great city is heading. Fire Fighters step up for this city every day.  So should they.

 

Jacksonville Fire Fighters Unveil 2013 Fireworks Safety Brochure

For over 235 years, Americans have celebrated their independence by grilling, boating, swimming, sports, and fireworks.  Of all the activities we partake in, fireworks still seem to injure the most people.

While this is a great time to celebrate freedoms no one else on this planet have, I would like to remind you to try to be as safe as possible. Every year, hundreds of Americans, including many children, are injured due to improper use of fireworks.

With that in mind, The Jacksonville Association of Fire Fighters would like to share with everyone its 2013 Fireworks Safety Brochure.  It is packed with safety information on how to properly protect yourself while launching fireworks.  It also has a section for grilling safety.

This brochure is free to download.  It is our hope that you will share this with your friends, families, church groups, home owner associations, and anyone else you can think of.  Our goal is to help you celebrate safely.

Click here to view the 2013 Jacksonville Fire Fighters Fireworks Safety Brochure

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Welcome To Our New Blog

Hello, and welcome to Jacksonville’s Burning Issues, a new blog created by the Jacksonville Association of Fire Fighters to keep the public informed on issues regarding their public safety.

As fire fighters, issues affecting public safety would of course be our number one topic.  This will of course include discussions about levels of service being provided to communities, the budget, and of course pensions.  Providing commentary on this blog will be:

Larry Osborne.  Larry is the 12th District Vice-President for the International Association of Fire Fighters.  He is retired from the Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department, where he was a Battalion Chief in the Rescue Division and even served a stint as the department’s Chief of Operations.  He brings 40 years of labor experience to the discussion.

Randy Wyse.  Randy is the President of the Jacksonville Association of Fire Fighters.  He was first elected in 2008 and has been re-elected by acclimation since.  Randy is 25 year veteran of the JFRD, having served as the District Chief of the JFRD Special Operations team, which encompasses the JFRD Hazardous Materials and Urban Search and Rescue Teams.  Of his 25 years on the department, 21 of those have been spent serving on the Jacksonville Association of Fire Fighters Executive Board.

Mark Treglio.  Mark is a 15 year veteran of the Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department and the 1st Vice-President of the Jacksonville Association of Fire Fighters.  He has been handling Public Relations/Social Media for the Jacksonville Association of Fire Fighters since 2002.

Fire Fighters are truly immersed in the communities they live in and work in.  It is the hope of this blog, and its original authors, that we can expand beyond public safety issues and shed some light on other issues that are affecting our great city.  With that in mind, we will be opening up the blog to special guest bloggers from time to time.

Thank you in advance for your support of our new endeavor.

Mark Treglio