A knock on my door two days ago produced an unusual guest. Larry Spencer, an area Libertarian Gadfly was standing their with purpose in his countenance. I invited him in where he produced a letter he is hand carrying around the district bashing the Timberlake Fire District's chief.
In the letter, he alleged several things. First was a diatribe against a proposed levy to bring the district into compliance with the fire rating bureaus. He suggested that the levy was out of line substantially with other districts of like size and that the chief was using a threat to close two unmanned fire stations as a pressure tactic for passage of the levy. He quotes a passage from the fire district's own web site, saying,"You can either pay more for insurance or invest more into your local fire protection district." That followed by Spencer saying, "That's some choice you offer us, chief."
He goes on to blast the $14,000 raise Chief Krill received, snarking that it was out of line for a department that size. What he didn't mention was that the first year was a probationary salary to be renegotiated at years end, which it was.
The real issue surfaced, though, when he got into the endorsements of candidates for district commissioners. He endorsed David "Rudy Rudebaugh, owner of victory Auto Parts and Solid Rock Solutions, in Athol followed by Marty Fish, a plumber and real estate agent. With those endorsements, he clearly showed in print and verbally that he is extremely anti-union. The other candidates are unabashedly pro-union.The fire district full time staff is unionized. The other candidates are, Phyllis Page, wife of former Timberlake Fire District firefighter, and Monty Aarestad a firefighter currently employed by the Sagle Fire Department. Page's husband is also employed at Sagle. Spencer alleges that Aarestad doesn't live in the district he is running in. When asked, fire chief Krill explained that all four candidates were vetted for eligibility and are qualified candidates. Interestingly, both of the candidates just mentioned are connected with the Sagle Fire District, one that the fired empoyees of three or so years ago are now working.
What didn't make the "white paper" that Spencer is circulating are the verbal shots he took at Chief Krill. Anyone that cares to Google Jack Krill can find the details of his termination in an article by the Wassilla newspaper. In it was the headline, "Board Wants Krill Back." Apparently some allegations, never proven and some others that were subjective were the cause of his suspension followed by termination. Among those, were that he yell at and verbally abused his troops. I asked Timberlake Union President of local 4483, Jake Capaul, what he thought of the chief. He replied, "We love the guy." When asked about the alleged abusive management style, he laughed and said, "Chief Krill never yells or even raises his voice."
Spencer is famous with his taking half truths and spinning them toward whatever his goal is. In this issue, he is true to form. I don't at this time have issues with any of the candidates, excepting that the parties from Sagle may have retaliation in mind. It would appear that chief Krill is popular with his employees and the elected board that hired him.
Chief Krill declined comment, saying,"I don't have any business involving myself in a political discussion, especially when it is about those I work for." He went on to say that all of the correct information is available at the district's web site.
Back to the issue of a levy, one must understand that this fire district was essentially leaderless for several years in which old antiquated equipment got older and more antiquated. Here is an excerpt from the district's web site.
"The fire district is trying to educate our residents about the state of the district and our needs for the future. On Monday, October 12, 2009, we were given a letter signed by Larry Spencer and were asked to respond to his comments and accusations. We encourage all residents to learn about the current state of the fire district and the proposed levy by visiting our web site at www.timberlakefire.com."
More from the web site:
The commissioners agreed that a permanent levy is needed and one commissioner suggested a February 2010 election. However, there has been no official decision regarding if a levy election would happen, how much the levy would be, or when it would occur.
The 86% relates to a $500,000 increase as recommended by the chief to make the necessary corrections and improvements. The commissioners have not made any decision on the amount of increase.
"In 2000, the fire district earned an ISO rating of 4/8 by a slim margin (60 points are needed for a class 4; we earned 61.7). A lot has changed in 9 years. We worked hard to prepare for the August ISO review, but there was no way we would maintain the 4/8 rating with our current equipment and deficiencies. Based on all of the facts and records, we are not a Class 4/8 fire department anymore." (ISO stands for Insurance Services Office, which advises the Idaho Rating Bureau how to rate various fire risks.)
"The closing of a fire station is dependent on the available equipment and personnel. To meet minimum requirements by ISO, each station needs one fully equipped fire engine and we must show that the fire engine actually responds to calls. In a few months, our newest fire engine will be 16 years old (1994 model); the other 5 will be 21-30 years old (1989, 1987, 1986, 1984, and 1980 models). We have 6 stations and 6 engines currently in service. I am having each engine evaluated for safe operations by a qualified fire mechanic, based on those evaluations; we may have to reduce our fleet which essentially means closing a station. We have a 1979 engine that was taken out of service last year after being evaluated by a certified fire mechanic because it was too costly to repair (over $20,000 in materials and over 500 hours of labor) and had not been properly maintained in the past (water in the pump gears caused corrosion). If a piece of equipment is not safe to operate, I will not put our firefighters and residents at risk by continuing to operate it. The fact is that we need funds to properly maintain our assets and funds set aside to replace them when they have reach the end of their lifespan. We will be cost effective with these funds – for example, we can remount at least 2 of our current fire trucks (compartments/pump) on new chassis, which will save us half of what a brand new truck would cost."
These statements appear to be factual. The fire district encourages concerned citizens to call the department at 683-3333 with any questions or concerns they have. It also appears that the choices that Chief Krill has outlines aren't choices, but inevitable alternatives that you the voters will decide. Polling places for the replacement commissioners, two, are your usual polling places at general elections. Timberlake High School, Garwood elementary,Bayview community Center, and the Athol City Hall. This election will be held November 3.The real issue here appears to be that without upgrading equipment and personnel needs, the fire rating people will substantially lower our district ratings, causing an even greater cost to homeowners and business than the levy request. All government agencies are in a tough fiscal position during this financial crisis we find our selves in. Here are two choices. Higher insurance rates, or more taxes to pay for the upgrades needed.
I am not taking a position on any of the candidates, except to hope that the two candidates don't suffer too much from Spencer's endorsements and rumor mill. Rumors on the street say that candidate Fish didn't circulate his petition himself, but rather, Larry Spencer did. Stalking horse for an out of county wanna be? Here is a statement by Rudy Rudebaugh:
Thank you for allowing me to provide clarification for why I want to serve our taxpaying citizens of the Timberlake Fire Protection District as a Fire Commissioner.
“I David “Rudy” Rudebaugh wish to continue my public service by utilizing my 30 years of experience in leadership and solid business principles. This skill set is important in properly serving the taxpaying citizens and district employees in assuring we focus on today’s business in a tough economy and balance growth for the future."
"All of us must look at the tasks or current needs of the district and there impact not only today but also the future growth of our district in a fair unbiased responsible decision making process."
"The delicate balance between the responsibility of providing first class of fire protection service to our district citizens, the needs of the district operating correctly, and the cost to the taxpaying citizens of our district is why we need well rounded individuals to serve as your Fire Commissioners. I am committed to serving the citizens of the Timberlake Fire Protection District in this responsibility of being an effective Fire Commissioner for You the Taxpaying Citizen.”
“I would like to personally thank those who already are supporting me and thank those undecided in advance, for there unbiased commitment in educating themselves in understanding the candidates and why they want to serve the taxpaying citizens of the Timberlake Fire Protection District. This allows all of us citizens the ability to make an educated choice for the next Fire Commissioner to serve them”
David “RUDY “Rudebaugh
Candidate Timberlake Fire Protection District Zone 4
*Comments from other candidates will appear here as they become available.
CLICK ON IMAGE AND JOIN OUR GROUP
50 minutes ago