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
International

'Barack Obama cheats on Michelle' claims Japanese politician…

A senior Japanese politician has marred Barack Obama's official visit to Tokyo with bizarre claims that the President cheats on his wife Michelle. Kazuyuki Hamada,…

International

British Royal family devastated by freak NY death…

The British royals have been left devastated by the death of Mark Shand, younger brother of Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, after a freak fall in…

Local

DA: Homeless man severely beat by men in…

Two former college football players pleaded not guilty to the alleged severe beating of a homeless man in Allston earlier this year.

National

Hamas, Abbas's PLO announce reconciliation agreement

The Gaza-based Islamist group Hamas and President Mahmoud Abbas's Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) agreed on Wednesday to a unity pact.

Television

‘Survivor: Cagayan’ recap: Episode 9

It was only an hour-long episode, but there's a lot to cover this week. The drama of Survivor strikes again as the identity of the…

Going Out

Thursty: Revamped Audubon is back in action

Having been a long time fan of Trina's Starlite Lounge in Inman Square, one of my only complaints about the place is that there's only…

Entertainment

Here's what to do in Boston this weekend

MUSIC Huun Huur Tu Friday, 8 p.m. First Church in Cambridge 11 Garden St., Cambridge $28, 617-876-4275 www.worldmusic.org This group comes from the tiny nation…

Television

TV watch list, Wednesday, April 23: 'Suburgatory,' 'Modern…

'Suburgatory' The men of "Suburgatory" go camping and Tessa mentors a social outcast in a Miss Chatswin contest, which brings her, once again, into conflict…

NFL

2014 NFL Mock Draft: Updated, new April 24…

2014 NFL Mock Draft: Updated, new April 24 version

MLB

MLB video highlights: Red Sox top Yankees, 5-1

John Lackey shines, Pineda ejected in Red Sox win

NHL

Bruins - Red Wings Game 4 preview: Boston…

Bruins - Red Wings Game 4 preview: Boston greedy for more dominance

MLB

Fantasy baseball: Searching for early season prospects

It’s relatively rare for a mediocre 30-year-old hitter to suddenly go nuts offensively for 162 games. That’s why minor league prospects are so exciting.

Style

Pippa Middleton's Etsy pick: Golden Thread Jewelry

Get a look at the jewelry Pippa Middleton loves and find out how you can buy it too.

Parenting

What every parent needs to know to get…

Mom and author of "Small Talk," Tracey Blake, shares her five practical tips to help you develop your children's language skills.

Sex

Subway crush: Meet your soulmate on your commute

Read about a couple who has been 40 years after meeting on the train.

Tech

Happy birthday, Game Boy! The handheld console turns…

Nintendo's Game Boy turns 25 this week. To commemorate, we look at some of its better games, like "Tetris" and "The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening."