Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Guess Who Is Running The Fire Department This Week!

My kids have become very interested in a band that I listened to a bit when I was in college. But it isn't Led Zeppelin, The Beatles, or AC/DC, or any of the usual trans-generational bands that kids pilfer from their mom and dad's CD collections. No, the band they have on iPod (or i-Whatever) heavy rotation right now is called Devo. The very outfit that came to the attention of millions around the world with their near-smash '70s and '80s hits such as "Whip It," "Block Head," and "Peek-A-Boo."

Devo has now reissued a few of their classic albums, with bonus material included. And because of some masterful publicity work by their label and management, Devo is now enjoying something of a nostalgia boom out there amongst the citizens. They are also selling a ton of concert tickets, t-shirts, and brightly colored plastic "Devo hats." Heady stuff.

But before they became world renowned rock stars, Devo was just a little art band out of Akron, Ohio. Part of an independent music boomlet at the time, one that sought to apply somewhat outre' political viewpoints and social criticism to the issues of that era, all to the jagged beat of what was then known as "art rock." And through the masterful use of music video and surrealist stage performances, they became the heralds of a satirical philosophical viewpoint that they called "de-evolution." Which is, of course, how Devo got their name. Here is how de-evolution is defined on their Wikipedia page:

The name "Devo" comes "from their concept of 'de-evolution' - the idea that instead of evolving, mankind has actually regressed, as evidenced by the dysfunction and herd mentality of American society."

So now it is around 35 years since Devo cooked all that up, and if they were right in their diagnosis of what has happened to this country, then we are now deeply into the "de-evolutionary era." And a fine example of that having taken place would be the recent City Council elections here in Sierra Madre. After all, when issues such as "decorum," private lifestyles, and a cooked up pseudo-panic over "outsourcing the volunteer fire department to save money" become messages that seize the attention of the voting populace, thereby causing them to vote against their own interests, then we are hardly anybody's "City of Enlightenment."

One of the finest examples of de-evolutionary politics in action here emerged just as our recent election had wrapped up. Quoted in a Sierra Madre Weekly article written by a noted local collector of fireman photos, fire department Battalion Chief Michael Bamberger went off on then Mayor MaryAnn MacGillivray over something he claimed happened after an earthquake occurring 19 years earlier. His assertion being that MaryAnn had deserted the City during that time of extreme peril. Of course Bamberger's attack was an utter fabrication, and many were justifiably outraged. Was this the kind of thing our fire department had been telling people on the sly during the election? Is the honor this organization enjoys here misplaced?

This patently false accusation would never have been printed in anything daring to call itself a newspaper in more responsible times, but the de-evolutionary and apparently shameless Sierra Madre Weekly never bothered to check the claim, rather just printed this fallacious statement as fact because they believed it suited the political needs of people they hoped to please.

Nor did they ever bother to issue a real retraction of the claim, even after the Sierra Madre Fire Department Chief at that time, Ed Tracy, delivered the following statement regarding Bamberger's journey into sour fanatasy:

In reading the article in the Sierra Madre Weekly, I was surprised by the comments made almost 19 years later by Michael Bamberger regarding the "fire department's hands were tied with limited resources on hand." The fire department had adequate personnel; throughout the incident and responded well to the event, as noted above. At the time of the incident, and due to his position in the fire department, Michael Bamberger was not involved in the command operations of the strategy and tactics associated with the incident and the updates provided to the City Council and the City Administrator. Therefore, his statements referenced in the Sierra Madre Weekly article are unfortunately not factual. Additionally, the statement that he and many others "lost respect for MacGillivray" is unfounded and did not exist in the fire department during my administration as you were always supportive of the fire department and appreciative of the services provided by its members.

In addition, the Sierra Madre Fire Department used to be viewed as an apolitical entity and its By-Laws prohibited a firefighter from getting involved with the politics of the City. As evidenced by the Sierra Madre Weekly, and its reference to Michael Bamberger being a "long-time Sierra Madre firefighter," perhaps this By-Law no longer exists in the Sierra Madre Fire Department, or maybe it is just not enforced by the leadership of the Sierra Madre Fire Department and the Sierra Madre Firefighter's Association.

Of course, the By-Law cited by Chief Tracy does still exist, and Bamberger's whopper became an object of much conversation in town. There were rumors of anger within the department itself, and some expected that disciplinary action would be taken against the loose-lipped Battalion Chief. The SMFD had been given an ethical blackeye by one if its senior (and salaried) members, and consequences were to be expected.

It is now a mere six weeks later and the current Fire Chief, Stephen Heydorff, has headed off on a vacation. So who do you think will be one of those running the SMFD in Heydorff's absence?

Judging by what we're seeing now, Sierra Madre's Fire Department became a politicized organization during our recent elections, and those currently running the City apparently see no reason to enforce the SMFD's By-Laws against any such involvement. Nor has there been any indication whatsoever from City Hall that this isn't the case. Rather, and based upon what we're seeing this week, it would appear that this is how they actually want our Fire Department to operate.

Welcome to de-evolutionary Sierra Madre.

51 comments:

  1. this ant no desco;this ant no foolin around. this is about burning down the house!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Speaking of "Outre",having a "turn of the century"Fire Department to serve our needs is also scary.As long as we are spending mega bucks to live in this berg,we might as well go first class.Let's set aside our wishful longing for the past and step up and seek the services of professionals.Stop with the sentimentality!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Could our Police Chief and her Captain run our Fire Department?

    ReplyDelete
  4. I'm sure with the millions of dollars that will be raised by the Mosca water rate hike they'll be able kick our volunteer force up to paid status. With retirement benefits and more. After all, isn't that what they've all been promised?

    ReplyDelete
  5. So what is the difference between a "political" fire department and a militia?

    ReplyDelete
  6. 8:11
    No difference

    ReplyDelete
  7. yes,8:11. the difference is about 451 degrees fahrenheit.!!! onward to distopia!!!

    ReplyDelete
  8. What a town full of suckers Sierra Madre has become.

    ReplyDelete
  9. It is a disgrace.
    There was a post a few days back from Eyes Wide Open that made perfect sense. Be unethical and you will succeed politically/socially in this town

    ReplyDelete
  10. Police, Fire and Sheriff are all tied together in LA County as labor unions with huge retirement investment groups. Volunteer FD no longer stands a chance, since the expansion of jobs has been deemed necessary by the union, particularly if local Fire is seen as necessary to "defend" more large development and help pay for the County efforts with respect to events like the Station Fire. This whole Sierra Madre takeover is being pushed from the County level with help from the development community.

    As always, just follow the money.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Rumors I've heard is that many of the volunteer staff at the SMFD believe
    that they will be brought in as salaried
    employees in time. I wonder if the backdoor
    UUT hike being combined with a water rate
    increase has anything to do with that...

    ReplyDelete
  12. Makes sense, 10:06. If you're going to turn this town into Glendale or Pasadena there are a lot of things you'll need to upgrade. Water systems, streets, infrastructure in general, Police and Fire, zoning, all of which seems to be on the menu right now. And that the City wants to dupe the residents of this town (people who are instinctively against this kind of development) into paying for it all? Priceless cynicism.

    ReplyDelete
  13. It is well known by many that the fire department has been engaged in Sierra Madre politics for several years now. Their behavior during the last election came as no surprise to many. Why do you think Mosca, Moran and Buchanan all have had their pictures taken in front of the fire department during their campaigns?

    ReplyDelete
  14. The fire dept volunteers surely sacrifice alot,but
    even if the department were turned over to the county, many would not have the minimum training qualifications to pass the tests to meet county certification standards

    ReplyDelete
  15. all I know that if I ever have a fire, I'll first call the Arcadia Fire Department.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Ditto that. And I have the LA Sheriff's Dept number on my refrigerator as well.

    ReplyDelete
  17. If the plan is to have the volunteer fighters paid, it will slowly creep into being in very small increments. First there will be a rather insignificant item on the City Council's Consent Calendar such as the fire fighters will be given a small stipend for each occurrence to which they respond. The item will be passed and no one will understand the ramafications of the item nor will they care. After awhile, they will receive compensation for training. Over time more small paid perks will be added. They will still call themselves our Volunteer Fire Fighters and the stupid residents will actually believe that is what the city has. The mayors will continue to heap on their praises about how wonderful they are and how much the volunteer fire fighter do for the city. Very few will realize there will be a huge budget for these free services. The uninformed and uninvolved residents of this city will allow this to happen.

    ReplyDelete
  18. Maybe it will be like when the UUT increase was on the ballot. Everyone will get postcards that will have pictures of teddy bears dressed up like firemen.

    ReplyDelete
  19. Thanks, Sir Eric, for printing the letter from Chief Tracy, the last really professional fire chief to volunteer for service in Sierra Madre. The whole thing is a scam as I happen to know that many who voted for the Gang of Four also have openly expressed views that the Fire Department should be devolved into LA County and take the police department along with it. But when presented with an opportunity to manipulate public support for an independent city (even if run by clowns), these same people manipulated the whole thing to get this Gang of Four elected, no matter what they thought.

    Watch out Fire Department!! Bart Doyle will show you no loyalty. When it's time to sacrifice you, he'll send you down without a blink of his eye.

    You'll feel foolish then, and worse.

    ReplyDelete
  20. I am not well versed in the history of the fire department. I have just heard very softly spoken cautions about not trusting the fire department in an emergency. And there was a terrible event where a woman lost her life because the volunteers didn't know how to deal with the electricity. It seems that once it was successful, now it isn't. More than one old timer has told me it's the sacred cow of Sierra Madre and you dare not speak out against it.

    ReplyDelete
  21. Dr. S., sounds like the voice of experience.

    ReplyDelete
  22. Maybe the people other than yourselves are not Stupid , Uninformed , manipulated , uninvolved
    suckers, Maybe they just disagree with your
    position. It sometimes seems this blog is run by Fox news.

    ReplyDelete
  23. Denial is a part of being human....the best we can do is to be on the look-out for it in ourselves, make the effort to see clearly.
    However, once denial is invested in? Once it's defended and championed.
    Bad juju.

    ReplyDelete
  24. You know 1:27, a lot of people are dying to hear well thought out and believeable opinions that contrradict their own. Care to offer one?

    ReplyDelete
  25. 1:27, calm down. How about responding to a specific post?

    ReplyDelete
  26. Reactions aside, Bamburger slandered someone.
    It's a fact, not an opinion.

    ReplyDelete
  27. I do believe you can hear the Moderator's hoots of hilarity at being equated with FOX news!
    I'm guessing here, but I think he might be a little more akin to Jon Stewart than Rupert Murdoch.

    ReplyDelete
  28. People just need more Shemp in their lives.

    ReplyDelete
  29. Think I've got a new acronym: SUMUS.
    The Sierra Madre SUMUS.
    Thanks 1:27.

    ReplyDelete
  30. It is obvious that Bamburger needs to make a public apology for lying about Mayor MacGillivray.
    If he does not, he cannot be trusted as a leader of any kind.

    ReplyDelete
  31. 2:08, you must be new to town.
    It's ok to lie here.

    ReplyDelete
  32. If after years of lies and corruption all one need do is "apologize" it's no wonder the Dirts are able to stay in power.


    Look up Stockholm Syndrome

    ReplyDelete
  33. Devo is the word of the day. The acceptance of lying by public figures equals devolving.

    ReplyDelete
  34. 3:02, Bamburger's apologizing at the next council meeting would be a start.

    ReplyDelete
  35. Don't hold your breath about Bamburger apologizing. If he was going to do that, he would have done it weeks ago. To him, he did no wrong. Also, don't expect Heydorff to do anythine either. It would have done by now. And, it just wasn't MacGillivray that Bamburger slandered, it was the whole City Council at the time - Gary Adams, Clem Bartoli, George Maurer, (I forget the other one) included. He actually admitted that he meant everyone on the Council, not just MaryAnn. It was only MaryAnn that he singled out in the Weakley because that is who Mosca and crowd were running against.

    ReplyDelete
  36. I lost all last bits of confidence in our FD when the previous Chief promoted his daughter within the department.

    7 year resident, a few years ago our FD printed a promotional brochure. It included a picture that depicted incorrect techniques and nobody caught it. Ed Tracy pointed it out and caught it when the brochure was made public.

    I'd be terrifed if the SMFD pulled up to my house. Once our FD kills or endangers another resident, maybe the oldtimers and those that like to think that we are a "small town" wikk be silenced and we can get a professional fire department, not one that has part time insurance salesmen and white collar mid management corporate types as firefighters.

    ReplyDelete
  37. let's not forget that a hack writer and a hack editor at the Weekly allowed a 19 year old unsubstantiated grudge be printed as if it were fact.

    I thought that hack writing was only limited to Hail Hamilton and Susan Henderson's rag.

    Guess you get what you pay for and in the case of the Weekly and the Observer, it's about 1 cent per word paid semi annually with a cap of $25 salary per annum.

    ReplyDelete
  38. None of this stuff matters. Ed Roski owns everybody, including Veterans Advantage. The network is infinite all the way up to Sacramento.

    ReplyDelete
  39. Roski can't even convince an NFL team to move to one of the biggest media markets on the planet. Out there in the real world he's a piker. Just because Ahnold takes your calls doesn't mean you count for all that much.

    Anyone he owns is not worth worrying about.

    ReplyDelete
  40. Mark, Mel and DonJune 1, 2010 at 6:15 PM

    Devo?

    my kid is listening to Grand Funk Railroad.

    ReplyDelete
  41. Which Grand Funk? The beer drinking wild men of the 70s, or the rather sedate Christian rockers of today?

    ReplyDelete
  42. 7:53........I do hope you weren't attributing those lines to Devo, that is from Talking Heads, a much headier and progressive band than Devo could ever dream of, David Burns puts these wannabes to shame.

    ReplyDelete
  43. I have heard it said that you are paying higher fire insurance premiums when you live in community with a volunteer fire deartment. Is this still worth it to you Sierra Madre?

    ReplyDelete
  44. 7:38 - Uh oh. it's the battle of the art bands!

    Dude! Ramones or Pistols?

    ReplyDelete
  45. Actually Devo and the Talking Heads did have something in common. They both started out as lean and fiercely iconoclastic underground bands, went on to achieve great critical acclaim and commercial success, and ended up as bloated and pompous parodies of themselves.

    Tho' David Byrne has a really cool radio hookup on iTunes.

    ReplyDelete
  46. I see your true colors and disdain for the fire department are showing through. I am very happy that you are NOT a city councilmember, and you will NEVER become one.

    ReplyDelete
  47. Siouxsie and the banshees sang peek a boo not DEVO

    Get it right spud boys!

    ReplyDelete
  48. Somebody hand 9:22 their Devo badge. That one just passed the test.

    ReplyDelete
  49. Hmm, I just went to The Google and it appears that both Siouxie and Devo had a song called "Peek-A-Boo." Here's a snippet o' lyrics to the Devo version:

    peek-a-boo!
    i can see you
    and i know what you do
    cause i do it too

    http://www.mp3lyrics.org/d/devo/peek-a-boo

    ReplyDelete
  50. morning AnonymousJune 2, 2010 at 8:39 AM

    Ahhh, 9:22, another spokesperson for the civil side.

    ReplyDelete