Monday, August 13, 2012

Endicott Corruption Continues

"There is a difference between jaywalking and grand larceny". - Gaylord Perry

With Hannon gone and Hrustich on his way, the Fire Starter can now return its attention to King John the Nefarious. 

The Fire Starter has highlighted Endicott Mayor John Bertoni's dirty dealings and blatant nepotism. We have highlighted the many instances where public money has been spent to line the pockets of the FOJ's (Friends of John).  Many family and friends have received no show or little work jobs.  Village property has been gifted to friends and family.  While complaining about firefighters and police officers, Bertoni has systematically fleeced the village for his friends and family.  It is enough to make Boss Tweed blush!

Which brings us to the latest bit of dirty dealings by Mayor John Bertoni.  Within the last year, King John the Nepotist hired FOJ  Darin Moody, to work in the Village Street department as a laborer.  Despite the lack of any competitive testing or apparent relevant experience, this FOJ was given a job in the village.

The Fire Starter was perusing local media outlets when to our surprise we came upon the following item in the Norwich newspaper:

Village of Endicott man arrested for Grand Larceny 4th Degree and Burglary 3rd Degree

 On June 25, 2012 a Village of Endicott man was arrested for Grand Larceny 4th Degree and Burglary 3rd Degree.Deputy Loiselle arrested Darin M. Moody after concluding an investigation that started during a traffic stop.  Deputy Loiselle was assisted by Oxford P.D. during a traffic stop in which two stolen computers were located in Moody’s vehicle.  The computers were found to have just been stolen from Wal-Mart prior to the traffic stop.  Moody is charged with Burglary for allegedly entering Wal-Mart with the intent to steal property while he is currently banned from Wal-Mart stores.  Moody was arraigned in the Town of Norwich court and remanded to the custody of the Sheriff on $5,000 cash bail.  Moody is to appear in Town of Norwich Court at a later date. 

Arrested –   Darin M. Moody Age: 41 

Charges –   Grand Larceny 4th Degree and Burglary 3rd Degree.

The Fire Starter  has learned that this is not Mr. Moody's first brush with the law. Apparently, he is well known to local Wal-Mart personnel and is banned from entering any store in the area.

Mr. Moody is still a probationary employee in the Village of Endicott.  As a result, he can be terminated at any time.  In other words, the Village is still within its rights to get this bad apple out of the barrel with little effort.  But this is an FOJ.   So the rules are different.

So what action has Bertoni taken?  Has he suspended the employee? has he begun his own investigation? Has he even questioned Mr. Moody? Please...we all know that the rules don't apply to Bertoni and his gang.
The Fire Starter has reliably learned that the only action taken by Bertoni was to threatened other Street Department employees with termination if they speak of Mr. Moody's criminal dealings.

Of course none of this should come as any surprise to anyone following Endicott politics.  Nor is it at all surprising that this has not been reported in the local media.

So what about it?  Can WBNG possibly report this?  Can Steve Reilly at the Press & Sun Bulletin bring himself to report this?  He seems to have no trouble undercutting law enforcement and fire fighters.  But what about corrupt village mayors?

We have our doubts.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Hrustich Gives Notice

 "Addition by subtraction." -Branch Rickey

Fire Starter recently learned that Stephen Hrustich, the chief of Endicott and Johnson City fire departments has decided to end his deadly reign.  Fire Starter has learned that Hrustich gave 2 weeks notice to the respective villages and will bless the area by his absence as soon as August 20th.

Fire Starter has been reliably informed that Hrustich handled the transition in the incompetent and devious manner to which have become accustomed.  Apparently alleging a family emergency, Hrustich asked the respective villages for two weeks off.  However, there was no family emergency.  Rather, he lied so that he could steal two more weeks from the villages and attend to arrangements for his transition to a new job in the Atlanta area.  In other words, he walked off the job in the villages to feather his next the taxpayers expense.

Not surprisingly, while Hrustich was planning his next move, he let his duties as fire chief go unattended.  The Fire Starter has learned that several months ago, Mayor Deemie instructed Hrustich to prepare a new federal SAFER grant.  The SAFER program is a federal program with the purpose of assisting local governments with funding for staffing of fire services.  Despite the explicit direction from Mayor Deemie, Hrustich failed to take any action regarding the grant application.  Only one week before the grant is due to be submitted did village officials learn that Hrustich had dropped the ball.  The scramble is now afoot to meet the August 10th deadline.

Hrustich's narcissistic and self serving reign is now coming to an end.  Anyone surprised by the circumstances of his departure has not been paying attention.  He spent the last several years padding his retirement on the backs of taxpayers and at the expense of health and safety. 

Maybe now the people of the villages will again have the kind of fire department they deserve. In part, that will depend on his replacement.

Monday, August 6, 2012


 "I think my resignation was the only way to avoid bloodshed." - EduardShevardnadze 

 The Fire Starter has repeatedly written regarding Chief Stephen Hrustich's incompetence.  His unwillingness to ensure proper staffing has led directly to the deaths of at least three citizens.  His technical incompetence has led directly to career ending injuries to at least one fire fighter.  His petty vindictiveness has caused him to lie under oath in an attempt to punish a detractor.  His neglect of his responsibilities caused him drive recklessly with children in his official vehicle and subsequently smash into a citizen from behind due to his inattentiveness. 

Hrustich was hired to "manage" two separate fire departments.  In theory, in return for his princely salary, he would spend a minimum of 20 hours per week at each department.  However, a review of time records reveals that Hrustich frequently claimed to be at one department or the other while he was at neither.  Frequently, Hrustich is gone for weeks at a time while submitting false time cards to the Villages of Johnson City and Endicott.

So one has to ask oneself, what does it take to get fired as fire chief in these villages?  While Hrustich has abused the public trust and placed lives in danger, elected officials have looked the other way and allowed this fiasco to continue.  There seems no limit to the cowardice of public officials.  Absent some personal affront to these elected officials, Hrustich will be allowed to continue to kill.

We have previously posited that Hrustich is soulless.  We have no doubt this is true.  No one who possesses a soul could literally walk over the bodies of the dead and the careers of his fellow fire fighters simply to make a buck.  The level of his amorality is staggering.

But in the likely futile hope that there is a glimmer of morality still residing in Hrustich, we make this plea.  Resign. 

Resign before more more are injured.

Resign before more fire fighters with superior knowledge and talent leave.

Resign before more die.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Training Injuries

People are always talking about tradition, but they forget we have a tradition of a few hundred years of nonsense and stupidity, that there is a tradition of idiocy, incompetence and crudity - Hugo Demartini  

When a fire chief acts recklessly such that individuals die or are injured, an investigation is warranted.  Not if you are Stephen Hrustich.

Thus far 3 and maybe 4 individuals have died due to Hrustich's mismanagement and incompetence. Yet he continues to receive his six figure salary while barely working a total 20 hours per week for the villages of Endicott and Johnson City.

The Fire Starter has learned that several months ago, Hrustich conducted an ill-fated training exercise.  Although unqualified, Hrustich supervised a"bail-out" training session where fire fighters practiced using a rope system to escape a building.  Due to Hrustich's incompetence, two fire fighters suffered serious injuries when the equipment they were using was not properly assembled and they plunged to the ground.  One injured fire fighter may well have his career cut short due to Hrustich's incompetence.  Several other fire fighters had minor injuries.

Despite Hrustich's incompetence and recklessness leading to a possible career ending injury, no action has been taken to investigate or discipline Hrustich.  
Recently, several North Las Vegas fire fighters were injured during a training session.  Unlike leaders in our villages, City officials have stated that the chief must be held accountable.  The chief has been placed on administrative leave pending an investigation.

NORTH LAS VEGAS (KSNV & MyNews3) -- As you're about to see, training to fight fires can be as dangerous as the real thing.

News 3’s Mackenzie Warren obtained video of an accident during a training drill in January that lead to last week's suspension of the North Las Vegas Fire Chief.

What was meant to be practice got a little too real. That day, four men were hurt—two badly. Shortly after, the exercise burned up a partnership between two fire departments and now six months later, the accident could cost Chief Al Gillespie his job.

Urgent radio calls and expletives from onlookers provide insight into the failed live fire drill. Three different cameras captured the accident, as two veteran firefighters bailed out of the drill just in time. And after the two men got out, it was a matter of seconds before the flames intensified. A camera mounted above the training exercise shows a different view of the escape—both of them suffering first and second degree burns.

As the flames continue to rip, the drama continues, when two fuel sources spontaneously ignite - they weren't supposed to - and blow the plywood windows right off the makeshift building.

North Las Vegas Fire Chief Al Gillespie is now feeling the intense heat. Because of the January mishap, the city has placed Gillespie on paid administrative leave. Gillespie’s department was in charge that day.

“As fire chief he understands his role and responsibility for all aspects of that department and he doesn’t take that lightly,” says City Manager Tim Hacker. Hacker is the one to decide whether the chief will keep his job. “To make sure that there was the appropriate level of communication and cooperation and in essence, I’m concerned with oversight,” says Hacker.

Hacker's decision will be based partly on a report ordered by the city of Las Vegas that reveals a lack of communication and no evacuation plan. A briefing was held before the live fire drill—but the report describes the meeting as “disjointed.” The report also reveals there was confusion amongst firefighters about who was in charge and a discrepancy over how many firefighters were actually in the burning building.

In all, four firefighters were hurt—two of them seriously: a Henderson and a Las Vegas firefighter. It’s likely no coincidence the city of Las Vegas has since called off an agreement to train with North Las Vegas fire. And now Hacker is left to assess the damage...

“It’s important to me that when we are working with other entities that we are holding ourselves to an even higher standard,” says Hacker. “Because we are influencing those relationships.” He will make a decision about the chief in the coming weeks. Hacker’s calling the botched training an “isolated incident” and wants all jurisdictions to have confidence in North Las Vegas.

Now we return to the Villages of Johnson City and Endicott.  3 confirmed dead.  Several fire fighters injured; one perhaps career ending.  Countless examples of recklessness.  Yet neither village has taken ANY action to protect the community and fire fighters from this worthless "leader".

The time to act is now; before someone else is injured or killed.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

How Many Need To Die?

"A system of morality which is based on relative emotional values is a mere illusion, a thoroughly vulgar conception which has nothing sound in it and nothing true." - Socrates

  As incredible as it may seem, it has happened again.

We have detailed the way in which Endicott and Johnson City Fire Chief Hrustich has mismanaged the respective fire departments.  We have detailed how firefighters and residents have been placed at risk due to his reckless cutting and under staffing.  We have shown how on at least two occasions, Hrustich's "risk management" has led to the death of a resident.  Just two weeks ago, we detailed an incident where a resident collapsed on Arthur Avenue in Johnson City and due to Hrustich's order, the four fire fighters on duty were not allowed to respond to the call.  The fire fighters could have responded within less than two minutes and provided CPR and other life saving assistance.  Unfortunately EVES was busy and it took them 8 minutes to respond and the resident died.

As shocking as the incident of 2 weeks ago was, it is even more shocking that it has happened yet again.

This past Saturday evening, the Johnson City Fire only had four fire fighters on duty.  In keeping with the long discredited policy, Hrustich ordered that the fire fighters not respond to Delta emergency calls.  The fire fighters were only allowed to respond to Echo calls where cardiac arrest has occurred and death is imminent.  However, even the casual observer can see that a Delta call can quickly turn into an Echo call where death is imminent.

A call came in Saturday evening of a man having collapsed at 278 Harry L Drive.  It was initially a Delta call so the Johnson City Fire Department was not allowed to respond.  The call quickly escalated to an Echo call.  UVES responded and was on the scene withing 4 1/2 minutes.  They were unable to resuscitate the man and he died.

The response time by UVES was within normal tolerances.  UVES was available and responded promptly.  But the Johnson City Fire Station, was just 2 blocks away.  Johnson City fire fighters could have responded in less than a minute.  Instead, they sat helplessly obeying the order of an incompetent.

What will it take for the Village of Johnson City to recognize its error and terminate this sad excuse for a manager. The Village Board is responsible for the health and safety of Village residents and employees.  There is now ample evidence that Hrustich is reckless and incompetent and emotionally unsuited to a position of such grave responsibility. 

One can be sure that if this was Bruce King's twin brother, Luke Slota's father, Greg Deemie's son, Rick Balles' brother-in-law or Diane Marusich's husband, there would be action.  But why should it have to hit that close to home for action to be taken?


Thursday, July 5, 2012

Hrustich Must Go

"Facts are stubborn things." - John Adams

We have written about the many failings of Joint Fire administrator Steven Hrustich.  We have detailed the devastating effect of his mismanagement and incompetence.  We have written of his dishonesty.  We have written of his recklessness.  To date, no action has been taken by either municipality.

Let's review:

  • The appeals court in the Meany discipline case found that Hrustich had lied under oath.  Ironicallly, this was what Hrustich had accused Meany of doing.
  • Hrustich recklessly commands fire scenes from the road without any first hand knowlege of the fire scene.
  • Hrustich has advocated the elimination of firefighters which has resulted in under staffing which has placed firefighters and citizens at risk
  • His half-baked staffing policies have led to the death of at least two residents.  Firefighters were left to sit helplessly while a resident died on the ground unattended.
  • He is absent from both departments more than he is present.  He spends no more than an hour or two at each department per day and is paid a salary of $125,000.  he is accountable to no one.
  • He has been the subject of no confidence votes of both Endicott and Johnson City firefighters.  These no confidence votes detail numerous instances of misfeasance and malfeasance.
  • He responded to emergency calls with lights and sirens driving recklessly and at a high rate of speed placing fellow fire fighters and citizens at risk.  He even responded to a call with lights and sirens and at a high rate of speed with his children in the "Command Vehicle".
Despite the foregoing, there has been no disciplinary action taken against Hrustich.  Why should anyone be surprised that Hrustich thinks he is above the law and the rules don't apply to him.  Apparently they do not apply to him.

Recently Hrustich was involved in a motor vehicle accident while driving the Johnson City Command Vehicle.  He apparently "rear-ended" another vehicle.  Was he texting or using his cell phone?  Was he drunk or high on drugs?  Was he "otherwise distracted"?  We don't know because little or no investigation ensued. But the photo tells the whole story.

 Hrustich was obviously not paying attention and then tried to pass a vehicle in front of him on the right.

Does anyone think that if this had been one of the firefighters under Hrustich's command there would not have been a full investigation?  Do you really think that if it had been a union leader Hrustich would not have been looking to terminate them?

Enough is enough!  Hrustich has to follow the same rules as everyone else.  The sum of his offenses exceeds by an order of magnitude, everything he has accused others of committing.

The facts lead to only one conclusion.  Hrustich must be fired.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Hrustich Kills Again

So·ci·o·path [soh-see-uh-path] n. a person with a psychopathic personality whose behavior is antisocial, often criminal, and who lacks a sense of moral responsibility or social conscience.

For the last several years, the Fire Starter has attempted to bring to the attention of the public issues that have been under reported or unreported by the local media. Incidents of misconduct by local elected leaders and their allies have repeatedly detailed on these pages. Rarely has the local media picked up on these stories. Rather, they have been willing accomplices to egregious abuses of power. Their silence has allowed petty tyrants to utilize the apparatus of government to target individuals with the well founded belief that their deep pockets and a complicit (and at times corrupt) media would shield them from notice.

We have attempted to present the misconduct in a factual yet entertaining way. (Really…who wants to continuously read the shrill reporting of a stifled blogger?) We illustrated absurdity with absurdity. There have been many instances when the use of local leaders own words appeared to be parody. Sometimes Mayors Hannon and Bertoni were our unwilling accomplices. Sometimes movie or television references illustrated the point. In short, we have attempted to inform yet never took ourselves too seriously.

Unfortunately, there is nothing funny about the latest incident in the Village of Johnson City. No pithy quotes or one liners will take the edge of the situation. There is nothing to laugh about.
We have illustrated the recklessness and self promoting behavior of Joint Fire Administrator Hrustich. He has repeatedly shown himself willing to place the public and the fire fighters who serve with him in grave danger in order to advance his own interests.

We reported that Hrustich had set a policy in Endicott that if his severe cuts to the fire department resulted in five or fewer fire fighters being on duty, they would not answer Medical calls classified as “Delta” calls which are classified as serious situations requiring advanced life support. Rather, the call would need to worsen to become an “Echo” call before fire fighters respond to the call. An Echo call is a maximum priority call where cardiac arrest has occurred and death is imminent. His cuts led to the death of an Endicott resident.

No action was ever taken to hold Hrustich accountable. The tragic death of a resident was swept under the carpet and forgotten. It was excused. It was discounted as a fluke situation.

Unfortunately, it was no fluke. Tuesday night, while most of us were home with our families, a Johnson City resident collapsed. At 9:20 PM, Broome County 911 dispatched a call of a man with breathing difficulty and loss of consciousness on Arthur Avenue in Johnson City. This was classified as a Delta priority call. Since there were only four Johnson City fire fighters on duty, Broome County dispatch knew that under Hrustich’s policy, Johnson City would not respond.

Broome dispatch sent the call to the Union Volunteer Emergency Squad (UVES). Unfortunately, they were busy answering multiple calls and were unable to arrive on the scene until 9:28 or eight minutes after the initial dispatch. The call was immediately upgraded to an Echo call as the man was in full cardiac arrest. Valiant efforts at CPR were undertaken by UVES but the resident passed away.
While all of this was going on, four Johnson City fire fighters sat a couple of blocks away, helpless. Hrustich’s order prevented them from responding to the initial call. They easily could have been on the scene in two minutes. Instead, this father, husband or brother was left on the ground a total of eight minutes before assistance was available.

Six additional minutes may seem like a minor inconvenience to some. But if you are lying on the ground and unable to get oxygen to your brain, it is life and death. 

Hold your breath for two minutes. It will seem like an eternity. Now try to hold your breath for eight minutes. 

Hrustich’s “risk management” has now led to two deaths in less than a year. If he had a soul, it would keep him up nights. However, he sold his soul long ago and we are sure that these deaths are “risks” he is willing to take. 

We know that Endicott Mayor Bertoni is unwilling to hold Hrustich to account for any misconduct. But what about Johnson City? What action will Mayor Deemie take? How about Balles, Slota, King and newly appointed trustee Marusich? After the reckless reckless cuts, wild driving, perjury and now two deaths, will they finally terminate this worthless piece of trash?

Don’t hold your breath.

***Note:  We were contacted by a neighbor who witnessed the events and advised that the event occurred on Arthur Avenue.  We have corrected the blog post. It is also worth noting that this neighbor verified the events of Tuesday night.