Recalls in the News

Coastside fire approves controversial ‘transition’ estimate
Thursday, September 27, 2012

The Coastside Fire Protection District board approved its proposed budget for the 2012-2013 fiscal year with a split vote during a regular meeting on Sept. 26.
Operating expenditures are slated to increase by $2,316,529 when compared to expenses in the current year. Most of that is due to an estimate of costs involved in transitioning from CalFire management to an independent fire department.
“That’s just a number that was thrown at us, which I think is irresponsible,” said Director Gary Burke. “It was exclusively Doug Mackintosh who decided that number.”
The more than $2 million cost is being funded from supplemental reserves, said board President Doug Mackintosh. He called the figure a “place-holder,” because specific costs have yet to be calculated.
“We know we have a transition cost bill coming,” he said. “We don’t know how much yet.”
Director Mike Alifano nominated Mackintosh and himself to form a new committee to study organizational transition plans and costs, as well as the cost of an on-going department.
Burke, who has found himself on the opposite side of the board majority many times since the board decided to ditch the state fire agency, said the money budgeted for the transition would prevent other potential expenditures.
Burke made a motion to instead use the money to eliminate parcel taxes in the old Point Montara and Half Moon Bay districts for the next three years. Mackintosh and Director Gary Riddell were against the suggestion, and the motion failed.
“We lack, in this district, a strategic plan … that identifies what our priorities are,” said Burke. “I think we need to be more transparent in what we’re doing.”

Transition raises fire district budget – Documents show 46 percent increase
Thursday, September 27, 2012

The Coastside Fire Protection District staff has released the proposed budget for the coming fiscal year, and it’s expecting less money and greater operating expenses than in the current fiscal year.
Actual revenue in 2011-2012 was $8,891,949 — $792,338 more than what had originally been budgeted. A tax rebate worth $637,673 that had not been included in the budget accounts for most of the increase, along with a decrease in the district’s own property taxes, which accounted for another $50,000. This year, expected property tax revenue is lower, totaling $8,745,845.
Operating costs in 2011-2012 were lower than anticipated at $6,811,299, as compared to the budgeted $7,640,251. The proposed budget for 2012-2013 suggests operating costs will jump 46 percent or $3,175,481 to $9,986,780. Much of the increase, about $2 million, is attributed to the potential cost of transitioning to a stand-alone department.
Typically, this money would be put in reserves, said board President Doug Mackintosh.
“We’re holding it for transition costs — we’re not by any means saying that these transition costs will be $2 million,” he said.

HMB Review Editorial: Fire board should reconsider most important hire
Thursday August 30, 2012

Here’s the thing about good-old-boy networks. They are generally not clutches of evil-doers bent on dictatorship, but rather well-meaning people who simply think they know best. So it is with the emerging cabal that is determined to return Coastside fire services to “local control.”

The dissolution of the Coastside Fire Protection District’s CalFire contract is sad for many reasons. By most guesses, the stand-alone department that emerges will be more expensive at a time when money is so scarce for other public projects and infrastructure. It marks the return of acrimony surrounding the local fire department. And it has sparked an unfortunate effort to recall elected members of the board of directors.

But if you are looking for the most obvious reason to be concerned about the future, look no further than this: The board majority that caused this mess has decided on its next fire chief without so much as posting the job. Forget vetting candidates in public. Three men on the coast don’t even plan on interviewing anyone at all.

Board President Doug Mackintosh told the Review last week that he had no intention of advertising the job. Like-minded board member Mike Alifano told us something similar on Monday, adding that the board was not required to notice the job. They already know who they want to be chief. [emphasis added]

We don’t know whether the fire board is technically required to advertise the chief’s position, but why in the world wouldn’t it choose to do so? If you were on a public board and contemplating paying your top employee something like $200,000 a year, wouldn’t you want to entertain outside candidates for the position?

The board has hired a good man, former San Mateo Fire Chief Dan Belville, to study the next steps toward forming a stand-alone department. His most important task is to find some way to attract qualified firefighters to what would be a fledgling department —without breaking the bank. That means navigating the morass that is the state’s retirement system for public employees. The Coastside’s new department would likely incur as-yet-unknown health care and retirement expenses that could easily run into the millions of dollars.

When he’s done decoding CalPERS indecipherable rules and expenses, Belville should tackle another all-but-impossible task. He should ask board members to change their minds. Cronyism is among the most damning charge made against any public board. By announcing the new chief without a single interview, the current board majority would be acknowledging they are good old boys indeed. [emphasis added]

Matters of Opinion: Exploring the rationale for recall
Jim Larimar
August 23, 2012
Half Moon Bay Review

A year ago Coastside Fire Protection District Directors Mike Alifano and Doug Mackintosh were both granted four-year seats on the district’s Board of Directors without a contested election. And a year ago the idea that the community would return to a stand-alone fire department was not on the community’s political radar.
Five years ago, CalFire won a competitive bid to service the community’s fire protection needs after a costly and disastrous locally run fire district staff was replaced for cause. The non-professional bickering, lawsuits and worse, poor performance, of the local fire department required a drastic remedy. That remedy was outsourcing fire services to an independent contractor. CalFire won the first contract to provide fire protection services.
Every service and every contract can be improved. Rather than improving the contract and re-competing the service, the new majority of directors, Alifano, Mackintosh, and Gary Riddell, has decided to return to a stand-alone service without informing anyone of their prior intent. Had they announced their intent to remove CalFire a year ago, and before the election, this issue could have been decided in a fair and open election where the voters’ choices were obvious. That did not happen.
In December of last year, the month immediately after a no-contest election, the intent to go backward to a costly and previously disastrous fire service became obvious. The majority claimed that CalFire was not meeting its obligation to serve the community. Members claimed that CalFire had defaulted on providing the contract’s obligatory services.
Two studies, one performed before the last election by an independent contractor and another recent effort by the San Mateo County civil grand jury, evaluated CalFire’s performance against the contract requirements and actual performance history. Both concluded that CalFire was meeting its contractual obligations and, additionally, that it was providing outstanding service to the community.
The grand jury found no substantial evidence to support the fire board majority’s claims of inadequate performance. The grand jury report recommended that the majority end efforts to return to a stand-alone fire department and the report recommended extending the CalFire contract for another year. Outsourcing contracts should be re-competed on a regular basis, but the majority has not allowed any discussion of this option to occur — they have decided to go backward to a failed service model.
Going backward to a stand-alone fire department will cost this community an additional $1.5 million to $2 million per year. A stand-alone fire service is not likely to provide better fire protection for the community and it will increase the district’s operating cost by around 50 percent.
CalFire has the lowest wage scale of any fire department in San Mateo County and its work rules require firefighters to work 28 percent more hours per year than any other fire service. All other fire districts require more staff to man the same number of fire engines for a full year of service. CalFire’s employees are well paid relative to the private sector and receive better benefits.
Paying firefighters more, giving them more days off, and providing them with even more generous benefits will not fix a problem; public employee salaries and benefits in California across the board are already very generous. This, however, will be a consequence of Alifano’s, Mackintosh’s and Riddell’s goal to reconstitute a local fire department. It makes no sense to do this and they have not bothered to obtain a voter-approved mandate to support their actions. That is why I signed the recall petition. It is the only option left to put this decision to the vote it deserves.


Fire board adjourns without chief’s report
July 26, 2012
Half Moon Bay Review

The Coastside Fire Protection District board cut short a regular meeting Wednesday night, adjourning without hearing a report prepared by Chief John Ferreira that contains financial information and related public comments.
Ferreira’s report, in part, serves as a response to cost estimates produced by a legal consultant who suggested a stand-alone department was financially feasible. Fererria’s report is available online at
Among other things, the report touches on salary and benefit cost differences between CalFire’s existing model and the consultant’s proposed model. It says that the consultant’s model was based on “several invalid assumptions” about CalFire’s contract, resulting in miscalculations in various personnel and overtime costs. Ferreira also suggests the consultants overlooked other potential costs.
The chief’s report also tracks CalFire achievements. “This is what you’d grade (the services of CalFire) against,” Ferreria said after the meeting.
Ferreira claims that CalFire only billed for actual cost — $5,040,000 for the last fiscal year. That is significantly lower than the originally budgeted $5,553,151. These savings, Ferreira said, can be used toward paying down debt, equipment purchases and other uses.

… Director Mike Alifano lamented that he was “done” with arguing and didn’t intend to let Ferreira address his report that night. Board President Doug Mackintosh declared the meeting to be adjourned and some members of the board and audience were left incredulous.
“I’m so shocked. I’m so appalled,” said director Ginny McShane later. During the meeting, she said that hearing Ferreira’s presentation was a matter of respect. Director Gary Burke apologized to the chief, stating that he was “embarrassed as hell.”


Investigation under way following recall complaints
DA looks into Alifano’s behavior
July 26, 2012
Half Moon Bay Review

A San Mateo County District Attorney’s Office investigator has been assigned to look into complaints about a series of verbal run-ins between a Coastside Fire Protection District board member and recall supporters that occurred over the past two weekends.
The first confrontation happened the weekend of July 14 outside the Half Moon Bay Safeway. Supporters of a petition to recall three CFPD board members — Mike Alifano, Doug Mackintosh and Gary Riddell — had set up a table to collect some of the 2,714 signatures necessary to get the recall on an upcoming ballot. Recall supporters say that Alifano and a firefighter from over the hill were once again intimidating petitioners as they sought signatures at Harbor Village over the weekend.
At least one recall supporter reported feeling threatened by Alifano, who showed up to offer his view on the petition to passersby. Recall supporters say Alifano was intimidating potential signers, a contention he denies.
Intimidation could be in violation of California Election Code 18630, which outlaws attempts to influence elections by intimidation.
Alifano allegedly took photographs of the circulating petitions that would get the recall on a future ballot. He denies taking photos of the petitions or names of signers. California Election Code 18650 forbids the use of signatures for anything other than qualifying for the ballot.
Government code excludes recall petitions from state open records laws.
“That means that there is some expectation of privacy relating to them,” said Wagstaffe.
Breaking any of these election codes could qualify as a misdemeanor.

Letters: Board majority, friends display contempt for electorate
July 26, 2012
Half Moon Bay Review

The dictionary definition of “lackey” is “servile follower or toady.” It is a deeply derogatory term. And it is the word deliberately chosen by onetime fire-board president Chris Cilia to describe the citizens of the Coastside — citizens he once served in office — who want to recall directors Mike Alifano, Doug Mackintosh and Gary Riddell and keep CalFire in our community.
That Cilia so openly despises his former constituency should be no surprise. The board majority Cilia supports has displayed the same contempt for the voting public for many months, even if they haven’t expressed it in such insulting language. The arrogance of Alifano in particular has been most recently demonstrated by his odd appearances at petition-signing sites, often accompanied by two imposing companions who happen to be volunteer firefighters.

In one encounter, Alifano confronted an 87-year-old World War II veteran who was made so uncomfortable that he packed up his petitions and left. And Alifano’s now-infamous Safeway visits were followed this past weekend by a cameo at the Harbor Village Farmer’s Market in the company of a San Mateo firefighter and his wife who tried to interfere with the petition people. It’s worth noting that, although Alifano insists the recall is divisive, no signature gatherer has reported a single problem encounter with anyone in our community — except Alifano himself.
To Cilia, who abruptly quit the fire board in the middle of his term, every one of the thousands of signatures already gathered on the recall petitions represents a brainless drone, not an informed citizen. And that’s what they all think of us, folks. Cilia has eloquently expressed the contempt that the entire anti-CalFire cadre holds for the Coastside electorate.
The only appropriate response to that contempt is to sign the recall petitions and regain control of our fire protection from three people who are determined to impose their own private agenda on the entire community.
Mike Gaynes
Moss Beach



Recall effort on Coastside fire district stirs emotions
July 20, 2012
San Mateo County Times

The controversy surrounding the Coastside’s fire agency heated up this week when allegations surfaced that a member of the organization’s board harassed people gathering signatures to recall him.
Last weekend one of those board members, Mike Alifano, confronted volunteers who were gathering signatures outside Safeway in Half Moon Bay. He said he wanted to counter false statements the signature-gatherers were making to passers-by; they say he was intimidating volunteers, scaring off potential signers and attempting to take photos of the petitions with his iPhone, a possible violation of state election law.

“I made a mistake. I should have never went out there,” Alifano said Friday, explaining that he let his emotions get the best of him. “They wanted me to stoop to their level.”
Karen Anderson, a volunteer who was at Safeway that day, said she saw Alifano place his smartphone a foot from the petitions as if snapping a photo. The previous day she claims to have seen him berating an elderly volunteer.
“The more he makes a fool of himself in public, the easier it will be to recall him,” she said Friday.

Recall supporters make last push for November election
July 19, 2012
Half Moon Bay Review

Fire board focuses on finding new chief
July 18, 2012
Half Moon Bay Review

The process of finding a new chief ought to be started as soon as possible, Mackintosh added. The position will be advertised and then the board will see who is interested in applying, said board director Gary Riddell.

Riddell said he anticipates a competitive hiring pool. “It’s so difficult to get in, and there’s such few jobs available,” he said.

Proponents of the move away from CalFire say they will offer competitive salary and benefits that will be attractive to qualified candidates.

Once hired by the board, the fire chief would proceed with hiring other personnel. Board director Mike Alifano advises that the new chief work with community members and consultants during the transition period to determine the financial and logistical feasibility of hiring for the stand-alone department. If it’s not possible under the current timeline, Alifano said, then the board may initiate talks with CalFire to extend the contract.

Matter of Opnion: We must take back fire services from misguided board majority
July 18, 2012
Half Moon Bay Review

Alifano asks in his full-page ads, “Does the risk outweigh the benefit?” Alifano, Riddell and Mackintosh have effectively ended our CalFire contract, have no plan or budget in place to form a new fire department, have less than 11 short months to create a department from scratch and hire about 43 firefighters. The risks of creating another poorly run, more expensive, short-staffed fire department filled with allegations of cronyism and lawsuits surely outweigh any benefits.


Editorial: Strong personalities need to act their age as fire saga continues
July 18, 2012
Half Moon Bay Review

On Saturday, recall supporters set up shop by the entrance of the grocery. If they are to be successful, they need to collect the signatures of nearly 3,000 district voters who think district Directors Mike Alifano, Doug Macintosh and Gary Riddell should be recalled. Alifano and a couple friends showed up Saturday at Safeway and began shooting photos of the recall effort and offering their own take on fire services. In response, recall supporters shot photos and video of Alifano and friends.

Alifano was completely out of bounds. A man facing recall should seek to impress constituents with his demeanor. He should consider the impact his actions have on his allies on the board. He, more than most, should understand that the integrity of the democratic process is important. He says he didn’t want to give his political enemies the satisfaction of seeing him walk away from the disagreement, but that’s what a thoughtful adult would have done.

Fights heats up over fire protection in Half Moon Bay
July 14, 2012
CBS5 San Francisco

Fire board recall effort moves forward
July 5, 2012
Half Moon Bay Review

“To have three people basically take control of the entire political process surrounding our fire service is lunacy,” said Mike Gaynes, a proponent of the petition effort. He acknowledges that seeking a recall is troublesome. “I don’t think anybody is happy about this.”


What they’re [the recall proponents] doing is wrong,” said Alifano.

Coastside Fire Protection District to cut ties with Cal Fire
July 5, 2012
San Mateo County Times

Coastside fire board votes to go it alone
July 3, 2012
Half Moon Bay Review

Consultants, the civil grand jury and a handful of current and former fire chiefs have supported a CalFire contract.

But in December, the board majority hired consultants and charged them with analyzing whether it could run a fire department for less than $6.5 million a year. Those consultants said it could be done, though they acknowledged that such a service would be more expensive than CalFire’s service.


Hanging over it all was the threat of a recall election. Proponents of a recall have a certified petition and have begun collecting the 2,714 signatures that would be necessary to get the recall of Mackintosh, Alifano and Riddell on an upcoming ballot.


“I’m not doing this for any other reason than my belief that this change is best for my family,” [Mackintosh] said.

Stand-alone department on fire district’s agenda
July 3, 2012
San Mateo Daily Journal’s%20agenda

…San Mateo County Chief Elections Officer Mark Church has approved recall petitions for board members Mike Alifano, Doug Mackintosh and Gary Riddell by a group of coastside residents who say the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection is saving them big money while fully staffing their stations.
“They want to go back to the old, discredited model of a stand-alone department,” said Moss Beach resident Mike Gaynes, one of the leaders behind the recall effort. Gaynes and those who want to keep Cal Fire on the coast have 120 days to collect enough signatures to get the recall on the ballot.

Cal Fire has saved coastside residents nearly $1.5 million, Gaynes said.

Prior to Cal Fire’s arrival, fire departments on the coast were a costly mess, Gaynes said, resulting in more than $1.2 million in lawsuit settlements and legal fees as well as high turnover and poor morale.

Reestablishing a new fire department for the coast would be a costly endeavor, Gaynes said.

“We’ve got no more scandal, no more firefighters suing their own department and we are spending less on overtime,” Gaynes said.


Recall Fire Lit – San Mateo County Coastside Fire Board
July 1, 2012

…the district’s troubles seemed to be in the past but over the past couple of years new board members have taken seats on the consolidated district board and have been pushing to bring back a locally controlled fire service again. This idea, for those who remember what the situation was like five years ago, has gone over like a lead balloon. The San Mateo County Civil Grand Jury 2011-12 report leambasted the idea as both unwise from a management perspective but also determined that such a change could present a financial risk for district taxpayers. Even a consulting firm hired by the district to study the issue came to a similar conclusion.

Many local voices, including the local Half Moon Bay Review, have also chimed in warning of such a change and questioning the motives of the board majority for championing the concept in the name of local control. But all of the public noise did not deter the three member majority of the fire board pushing for the change. Finally, two weeks ago, local residents turned to the recall to prevent a loss of Cal Fire service. Time is of the essence as the contract with Cal Fire essentially ends at the termination of 2012, leaving recall proponents little time to remove board members who favor a return to the past.

Nonetheless, the Coastside Fire Protection directors targeted by this recall have real reason to be concerned. The district’s population is small, perhaps 30,000 residents, and the recent history of fire service on the coast is still well within memory of local voters. And with the local press already positioned against the drive for a return to the old, it looks like this recall may actually catch fire.

Editorial: Fire board continues down perilous, expensive path
June 21, 2012
Half Moon Bay Review

Seven months after officially broaching the idea of a new department, the CFPD board is still at the starting line. It hasn’t accepted the boilerplate policies and procedures consultants have offered. It has merely suggested a pay range and a complicated, two-tiered retirement scheme that would favor some firefighters over others. And it certainly hasn’t galvanized public opinion in favor of ditching a perfectly good fire service in favor of something more expensive.

Recall notices handed to fire board majority
June 6, 2012
Half Moon Bay Review

Standing up during the public comment period, El Granada resident Marshall Ketchum handed recall notices to three directors, including board president Doug Mackintosh, Mike Alifano and Gary Riddell.

“You’ve been served,” he reportedly said.

The notices were identical for all three directors, stating they were unfit for office because they were ignoring constituents and the findings of a San Mateo County Grand Jury released in April. The same 10 people signed each of the recall notices.

The three directors have been under fire for letting a CalFire contract expire and indicating they would prefer having the district hire its own firefighters.

Fire board hears expensive options
May 31, 2012
Half Moon Bay Review

On Wednesday night, district directors heard that a new department would likely be more expensive than the current CalFire contract, but price may not be the deciding factor.
On Wednesday a sometimes-hostile standing-room-only crowd heard that a standalone fire department would likely cost taxpayers at least 12 percent more than the district’s current contract with the state fire agency.
The consultants – a former Woodside town manager, a firefighting expert and an attorney – contemplated a 37-employee district similar to the one that existed before the 2008 contract with CalFire. They then compared similar staffing were it managed by the Woodside Fire Protection District and the newly established San Carlos fire department. Both of those scenarios were significantly higher than the current cost for service on the Coastside.
And the consultants agreed the cost would only go up from there. The most expensive benefit package considered, at a service level that compares to services in Woodside, would be 28 percent more than the status quo. That didn’t include any overtime expenses. The district incurred an average of $1 million in overtime expenses in each of 2005, 2006 and 2007, the three years immediately preceding the CalFire contract.
The consultants initially ignored a difference in the work schedule between current CalFire firefighters and that contemplated for a new standalone department. CalFire employees work three days on and four off; the consultants presented plans for employees who would work two days on and four off. That means it would take more firefighters in a standalone department to cover the Coastside’s three stations.
One of the consultants, Bryan Collins, an assistant chief at the San Ramon Valley Fire District, told the board that the two-days-on, four-days-off schedule would be necessary to attract competent firefighters in the Bay Area.
The meeting got off to a rocky start when several members of the audience stood to address district board members. All of them were critical of ditching CalFire.
Midcoast Community Council President Bill Kehoe was among the more reasoned speakers. He told the board that, regardless of its motives for considering the standalone department, it was ill-served by its words and actions so far.
“This is not adequate,” he said. “You aren’t doing a good job getting the data out. Perception is reality. If you are going to sell this, you are doing a really poor job of selling this.”


Editorial: Fire board majority determined to ignore evidence and go it alone
May 3, 2012
Half Moon Bay Review

Irony of ironies, a San Mateo County civil grand jury issued a damning report on the shenanigans at the Coastside Fire Protection District on the very day that the fire board met to discuss whether to wander further into the jungle of overpriced consultants, union agitators and innuendo all aimed at bringing back the Coastside’s most notorious management boondoggle.

The brief history is this: For decades, fire and rescue services were run by parallel old boy networks that sometimes feuded like the Hatfields and McCoys. The Half Moon Bay Fire Protection District finally saw the light after 28 firefighters quit the 22-man department over the course of six years, a time that included five lawsuits that cost district taxpayers $1,223,845 in legal fees and settlements. The district contracted with the state fire agency in 2006, which is about the time the district merged with the Point Montara Fire Protection District to form the Coastside Fire Protection District. Citizens were treated to several years of tranquility and less expensive service.

Well, relative tranquility. Behind the scenes, some board members worked tirelessly to unravel the deal that ended the acrimony and saved taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars a year by virtue of CalFire’s more reasonable pay scales, work schedules and economies of scale. And why would they do that? It’s all about union politics and personal connections.

There have now been three grand jury reports in the last five years that point to the success of the CalFire contract on the coast. More than one chief has begged for the current arrangement. The board majority’s last consultant, hired little more than a year ago, reported that the state agency was effective and relatively inexpensive. CalFire’s employees are better trained, more stable and provide better service than their predecessors in every way. There is absolutely no evidence, save snide anecdotal complaints about firefighters getting lost on their way to calls, to suggest there is a better way.

The April 25 grand jury report ends with these words: “The board should refrain from formally considering whether to re-establish a stand-alone fire department unless substantial and material deficiencies in performance surface.” It took only a couple of hours for the board majority to completely ignore that sage advice and move to waste even more of your money. In fact, board members Doug Mackintosh, Mike Alifano and Gary Riddell voted to pay $225 an hour for a retired firefighter from San Ramon as a consultant in this ridiculous farce.

It’s easy to ignore the fire board. Most of us just want to know that competent, well-trained men and women will respond when we dial 911. Well, this is a different kind of emergency. If you care about the way your tax money is spent and if you care about safety on the coast, we urge you to read the grand jury report. Then form your own opinion.

Split board looks beyond CalFire
May 3, 2012
Half Moon Bay Review

By a 3-2 vote, the Coastside Fire Protection District board of directors last week hired new consultants in a continuing effort to determine the feasibility of a stand-alone department, one that would be run without CalFire management. In so doing, the board majority effectively ignored strong warnings contained in a San Mateo County grand jury report issued the very same day.

Meanwhile, the board majority declined to sign a new contract with CalFire, and the state fire agency exercised its option to extend the contract one year — to June 30, 2013. At that time the state agency would hand over operations to some other organization.
Board President Doug Mackintosh and board members Mike Alifano and Gary Riddell carried the day, assigning a $48,000 consultant team to investigate the costs and operational questions necessary to reconstitute a locally managed department. The consultants include a retired San Ramon firefighter who will charge the district $225 an hour for his expertise and Susan George, recently retired town manager of Woodside, who will charge $150 an hour.
Citing ongoing frustration from working with a large state bureaucracy, Mackintosh said after the meeting that the Coastside would see better fire protection and long-term savings if it went back to local staffing. He declined to point out any specific problems with the services provided by CalFire.
The other two board members say there is absolutely no reason why the district should dump CalFire. Director Gary Burke pointed out the state fire agency has not been embroiled in any lawsuits or complaints over four years on the Coastside.
That is in contrast to the stand-alone Half Moon Bay Fire Protection District, which paid more than $1.2 million in settlements and legal costs between 2000 and 2006. That was a dark period for the two Coastside fire districts. Infighting led to lawsuits and highly publicized scraps between management and labor. Eventually, a series of interim chiefs recommended a newly combined district contract with CalFire for management, and the Coastside Fire Protection District did just that in 2008. Since then, the district has won praise in a separate grand jury report, and the board has boasted of saving taxpayers money by virtue of CalFire’s salary scale and work schedule.
Burke was instrumental in setting up the CalFire contract and is unmoved by the majority’s complaints.
“This is an attempt to return the district to the cronyism that we had before CalFire,” he said. “The action taken by the board was dangerous, irresponsible and without justification.”
“We’re in uncharted territory here … and there’s so many unknowns,” said CalFire unit Chief John Ferreira who supervises Coastside firefighters. “It’s never happened that a contract has expired and the contracting body expects us to vacate.”
In a letter sent before the board meeting, CalFire officials announced they saw no other option but to enact an emergency clause in their contract to extend the current terms for one year in order to guarantee that the coast kept a capable firefighting force. That means the district could end its relationship with the state agency no earlier than 2013, and it also gives CalFire time to redeploy its personnel on the coast.
The most recent grand jury report claimed that much of the criticism of CalFire was “unfounded, outdated or of relatively minor significance.” It pointed out that Mackintosh himself was once a plaintiff against the district and claimed that much of the discord over district management through the years was the result of squabbling unions.
In an interview last week, Mackintosh dismissed the grand jury report because it wasn’t prepared by firefighting professionals.


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