Thursday, May 28, 2009

Baker's Budget Passes, Layoffs Take Place July 1st

Citizens Form Volunteer Brigades To Assist Career Colleagues

by: Lou Angeli

WILMINGTON, DE (May 28, 2009) -- Even with 4 NO votes and 2 abstentions, the city of Wilmington's controversial FY 2010 budget passed City Council this evening with just 7 votes. Last week the vote was tabled to give the city more time to hammer out an agreement with Wilmington Fire Fighters Local 1590.

"Oh, we hammered," says Kevin Turner, president of IAFF Local 1590. "We hammered on Bill Montgomery's door day in and day out -- and he never answered."

So, in essence, the Baker administration flipped Wilmington City Council the Golden Phoenix, ignoring Council President Norm Griffith's assurances that "we'll have an agreement by next Thursday."

Well, today is next Thursday, and it has come and gone. The administration will not consider a simple language change, a short clause which would protect newly-hired firefighters from being dropped. A small request to bring about unity and guarantee citizen safety.

"Their reluctance to add such a caviat,' says UD professor Claude Reynolds, 'is proof positive that it has been the administration's plan to conduct layoffs all along."

Negotiations experts from across the country are following the drama closely, suggesting that Mayor Baker's mind may have been taken over by former Vice President Dick Cheney.

"It's as if he doesn't feel the need to answer to anyone," commented Patrice J. Gooding, acting CEO of The Medium Sized City Political Coalition. Council members should have been insulted by Baker's lack of response, Gooding says, instead "they seem to like the fact that he's not paying any attention to them."

In the meantime, Lord William Montgomery suggested that 8 layoffs would not be sufficient and to expect more firings.

"We're considering 30 layoffs in total,' Montgomery explained, 'because we still haven't fully funded the Barber Shop Quartet Festival," which is scheduled to be held on the Riverfront in August.

Montgomery continued, "Knocking off another 22 firefighters should do the trick and provide us the monies needed to make this a wholesome, well attended event."

"Even with 30 firefighters gone, we'll be able to maintain rapid response times and quality service." says Nunzio Scarpetti, a firefighting consultant who Mayor Baker has elevated to SuperDooperChief of the Wilmington Fire Department.

Scarpetti, a volunteer from Long Island, laughed. "We'll show these Wilmington boys how to make a 2-man engine company effective." Asked to explain, Scarpetti noted that he wasn't sure what he meant. "I just like to say shit that sounds good."

In the meantime, Wilmingtonians are gearing up to provide their own fire-rescue protection.
In the city's Little Italy section, a new mimi-pumper was donated by private contributions to residents of "The Antonian," a high rise apartment complex for the elderly. The brigade is currently conducting training in the parish rectory, and includes both men and women.

Leading the new brigade into action is Brother Mike, a St. Anthony's icon, most recognized for his work during the Italian festival. Mike is confident that the brigade will be effective.

"I guarantee you that we'll smoke Engine 6 anywhere northof 8th Street," said the 87 year old Oblate. "Hell, let em roll the entire house -- we'll have the fire knocked down by the time they arrive."

"They can take up my freakin' lines!" said Dolores DeFeo, who at 92, is wagon driver for the brigade.

Dolores proudly notes that she comes from firefighting stock. Her great grandfather was part of the Rome Fire Brigade during Nero's famous violin solo.

Other brigades are forming around the city, but are less boastful than those on "the hill."

"We concede that our career colleagues are under a bit of a disadvantage," said Rev. Theo Green, of Riverside. "We're simply trying to give them a helping hand during these hard times."

It's Rev Green and Brother Mike's enthusiasm that will allow the members of the Wilmington Fire Department to keep their minds during the final years of the Baker administration.

We're all hoping that by then, someone special ascends to Wilmington's Mayordom. Perhaps someone who understands that public safety is about protecting the citizen public -- not playing head games with firefighters and law enforcement personnel.


Note: Like Weekend Update, many of the stories and comments which appear in the piece have been fabricated. For example, Dolores DeFeo is only 91.

1 comment:

Julie Wan said...

Hi Lou - I'm an editor of a national magazine called Weatherwise. I came across your blog and am interested in interviewing you for a regular feature we run called "On the Job," which is about people with interesting jobs affected by the weather. Would you be interested in this? The interview itself would take no more than 30 minutes. You can check out the magazine at Please drop me a line at Thanks!