Mike Alifano is quoted in the June 6, 2012 HMB Review as saying “No decisions have been made. We’re simply trying to compare what we have.” Unfortunately this statement is simply not true, as on April 25, 2012 Mike Alifano, Douglas Mackintosh, and Gary Riddell decided to vote against extending the CAL FIRE contract. Alifano, Mackintosh, and Riddell continue to say one thing while doing another, and hope the public won’t notice. When Alifano makes statements such as “No decisions have been made” after he voted against extending the CAL FIRE contract, it shows he either has no idea what he’s talking about, he has no idea of the consequences of his actions, or he hopes that no one is paying attention. This vote was extremely significant, and its significance cannot be overstated.
- This vote told Coastside residents that the Board intends to get rid of CAL FIRE.
- This vote told the 37 CAL FIRE Firefighters serving the Coastside that they better start looking for a job elsewhere.
- This vote told CAL FIRE that they need to start planning to re-deploy the 37 Firefighters on the Coast to other locations. That process will start months ahead of the June 30, 2013 end of the CAL FIRE contract.
- This vote told other firefightering organizations that the Board negotiates very poorly, as we’re now in a position where we’ll have to pay someone else to fight fires for us and we’ve just laid all our cards on the table.
- This vote told everyone that even if somehow we decide to continue with CAL FIRE service after July 1, 2013, this Board will continue to be a poor partner in public safety.
This vote has started to quickly galvanize public opinion against Alifano, Mackintosh, Riddell. I have attended at least the last 4 successive Board meetings, and listened to dozens of members of the public address the Board. Nearly all these speakers are upset at the Board’s direction, and many were downright distraught. Many literally begged the Board to reconsider the actions.
In all these recent meetings, listening to several hours of discussions, I have heard only two members of the public speak in favor of the Board’s actions. One of those speakers went on to insult other members of the public during his speech, calling them ‘retarded’ during his public comments. The other member of the public who spoke in favor of the Board’s direction admitted that he was a former neighbor of Gary Riddell’s. It seems that there may be only 5 Coastside residents in favor of the Board’s direction – these two members of the public, and the Alifano, Mackintosh, and Riddell.
We realize that initiating three recalls is a drastic measure. No one wants to do this. No one is happy about this. We are acting because we are compelled to save our relationship with CAL FIRE, the best firefighting agency the Coastside has ever seen. I, personally, am getting involved because I couldn’t live with myself if I stood by and did nothing, and watched Alifano, Mackintosh, and Riddell destroy our fire service.