Councilman blasts demotion of 14 firefighters as ‘retaliation’

city councilman jim kenney
City Councilman Jim Kenney.
Credit: Rikard Larma / Metro

Councilman Jim Kenney on Thursday introduced legislation calling for a City Council hearing investigating the proposed demotion of 14 Philadelphia firefighters, a battle that is currently playing out in court.

The firefighters were promoted – five of them to the rank of captain and nine to the rank of lieutenant – after Court of Common Pleas Judge Leon Tucker on May 14 ruled the city must fill firefighters vacancies with those who passed the promotion exam and whose names were included on a list.

But Commonwealth Court Judge Dan Pellegrini on Sept. 18 reversed the ruling, siding with members of Mayor Michael Nutter’s administration, who claim Fire Commissioner Lloyd Ayers is not required to fill firefighter vacancies with those who pass the exam, but that he can pick and choose who to promote.

The legal battle continued after Judge Ellen Ceisler on Tuesday put a temporary stop to the demotions as Tucker reviews the case.

“Yesterday, Commissioner Lloyd Ayers attended a hearing dealing with challenges to the Commonwealth Court’s ruling that [the firefighters] could be demoted and he said in court he was ‘forced’ to promote these people based on a court order,” Kenney said during Thursday’s City Council hearing.

Holding up photographs of the promotion ceremony for the firefighters whose titles are now in question, Kenney said, “Commissioner Ayers is smiling in every one of these pictures. It doesn’t seem to me he was forced to do these promotions.”

“The reason why it resonates with me is in 1967 and again in 1975, my father was promoted to captain and battalion chief,” Kenney continued.

“I attended those ceremonies with my brothers and mother. Those are some of the most important memories I have growing up. We were very proud of what my dad did for a living because he put on a uniform every day and saved lives.

“Every single family member in any of these pictures went through the same feelings and are all now going through the feelings of, ‘Why is my brave dad who became a captain or lieutenant being demoted by the city they serve and the fire department they serve?’”

Kenney reiterated he doesn’t believe it was Ayers choice or desire to demote the firefighters.

“The day before yesterday, Everett Gillison said that, along with the city solicitor and Deputy Mayor [Mike] Resnick, that they were exercising a ‘management prerogative,’” he said.

“So now, on the one hand, Fire Commissioner Ayers said he was forced to do something. On the other hand, Gillison and others are saying they were exercising a ‘management prerogative.’”

He called on the fire department and city to instead foster a productive dialogue with firefighters, noting there are still 39 fire department openings for captains and lieutenants.

After the Council session, Kenney blasted the decision to demote the 14 firefighters as “retaliation” by Mayor Nutter, Chief of Staff Everett Gillison, Deputy Mayor Resnick and City Solicitor Shelley Smith.

“Instead of getting an order that’s favorable to them and saying, ‘Well, maybe it’s now time to change the climate. We have a whole bunch of other openings that we can promote people for. We keep these 14 people on the job and we can go forward with a better and brighter and more positive attitude.’ But no, they can’t do that,” Kenney said, saying the officials instead put on a “tough guy act.”

“It’s all retaliation,” Kenney said.

“Everything that they have made this commissioner do and that he’s done relative to discipline, forced transfers, arbitration disputes, and now this promotional stuff, is all done out of antagonism – period. And I don’t care what they say about ‘management prerogative’ or anything else, it’s all about sticking it to them, and that’s a shame. The public safety people in this city who would willingly give their life for you, they’re the ones you want to pick on. It’s pretty senseless.”

A ruling regarding the 14 firefighters’ demotions is expected Thursday.



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
National

Mutant worms stay sober, even on alcohol

U.S. researchers have developed "mutant worms" that do not get drunk by alcohol, a breakthrough that could lead to new treatment for people trying to quit drinking

Local

K-9 nose helps capture $150K in cocaine at…

A furry, four-legged security agent helped authorities stop an illegal cocaine shipment from sneaking past JFK customs.

National

Minnesota man asked to leave Southwest flight after…

A man and his two sons were asked to leave a Southwest Airlines flight after the man sent a tweet complaining about being treated rudely by a gate agent.

National

Man sues hospital after surprise penis amputation

An Alabama man who went in to a hospital last month for a circumcision awoke after surgery to find his penis had been amputated, his lawyer said on Thursday.

Movies

Review: Brett Ratner's big 'Hercules' movie is small…

The latest "Hercules," starring Dwayne Johnson as the half-god beefcake of Greek myth, strips its hero and tale of most of its fantastical elements.

Arts

Scientists recreate world's smallest Monet copy

Scientists have reproduced a famous Impressionist painting using nano-printing, to create what has been described as the world's smallest work of art. Reworked at the…

Television

Jerry Seinfeld is ambidextrous, and other Reddit AMA…

See some of the weirder highlights of Jerry Seinfeld's recent Reddit AMA.

Going Out

Grab a pedestrian and start dancing at What…

As a New Yorker, I’ve mastered the art of focusing my gaze straight ahead. Though it occasionally piques my interest, the absurdities that play out…

NFL

2014 NFL Fantasy Football Top 100 overall player…

2014 NFL Fantasy Football Top 100 overall player rankings

U.S. Soccer

NYCFC announce signing of Frank Lampard

The tease of a big signing Thursday by new MLS side NYCFC ended up being one rumored for weeks. England midfielder Frank Lampard agreed to…

NBA

NBA great LeBron James sends 800 cupcake apologies…

By Kim PalmerCLEVELAND (Reuters) - NBA star LeBron James, whose recent return to the Cleveland Cavaliers in his home state of Ohio sparked a frenzy…

NFL

Jerry Reese confident with Giants, skipping countdown clocks…

Last year, Giants GM Jerry Reese installed a countdown clock in the locker room to inspire Big Blue to play in their own stadium for Super Bowl XLVIII.

Tech

Forget Wi-Fi: Li-Fi could be the future

Li-Fi technology – developed by Mexican company Sisoft – is wireless internet connectivity using specialized LED light.

Tech

Weather app Climendo might be the most accurate…

The wait for a truly accurate weather forecast could finally be over thanks to a nifty new app called Climendo.

Tech

Napkin Table puts focus off the phone and…

Michael Jan, a design student at Tunghai University in Taiwan, has invented a serviette-picnic blanket hybrid called the Napkin Table.

Style

Essie's new Color Boutique

Essie launches high-tech kiosks at major airports and malls across the country.