"In a Democracy, the people get the government they deserve" - Alexis de Tocqueville
Disasters often bring out the best in human nature. Friend helping friend. Neighbor helping neighbor. Stranger helping stranger. It is this miracle of generosity that reaffirms our belief in the goodness of mankind.
Unfortunately, tragedy can also reveal the darkness in men's souls. It can reveal the callous self interest of the privileged. It can reveal the indifference of our leaders to anything other than their political future. It can reveal the contemptability of the incompetent. It is with regard to these human cockroaches that the Fire Starter issues these dubious awards of indistiction.
The "Risk Management Award'
When Joint Fire Administrator Hrustich assumed responsibility for the Village of Endicott and the Village of Johnson City, he assured us all that he was an expert at risk management. He assured us that he could properly manage the assets of both departments for the benefit of both villages. He assured us that there would "never be simultaneous emergencies in both villages". This assertion was made notwithstanding the 2006 floods.
However, when the impossible occurred, he was caught totally flat footed. Hrustich largely left the Village of Johnson City for command of the Endicott department. In several instances, the Village department was being led by a brand new lieutenant with no practical command experience.
In addition, While JC Fire Fighters were rescuing residents from their homes, the JCFD boat was ordered out of the Village and to Endicott to assist with the Endicott water treatment plant. This might be considered a reasonable allocation of assets. Except the JCFD boat was merely used as a "back up" during the water treatment plant work. The boat which could have been used to rescue residents sat idle in Endicott.
Apparently risk management largely involves sacrificing the needs of one village for another.
The Let Them Eat Cake Award
This award goes to Trustee Ron Davis. In the midst of the flood disaster, the Johnson City Fire Department responded to an active fire in an apartment building on Crocker Avenue. Apparently, Trustee Davis received complaints from his well heeled friends on the hill (like John Sullivan) that their water pressure was adversely affected by the use of water on this working structure fire. Apparently, some hill dwellers were unable to water their orchids during the fire.
Davis responded to the scene of the fire wanting to know why the pumper truck was not being utilized to extinguish the blaze. He plead the case for the waterers on the hill while citizens homes burned. This is why he is our Marie Antoinette.
The Insurance Industry Award
The winner of this award is already familiar to the readers. He is the risk manager who did not anticipate simultaneous emergencies in the two Villages. Yes! that's right. JFA Stephen Hrustich. What did he do to bring such credit to himself with the insurance industry?
As waters rose toward the Harry L Drive Fire Station, objects needed to be moved from the lower level to the upper level of the station. Various articles were ordered moved to safety. The Fire Department has older and spare cutting tools and the like that are stored in the lower level. But JFA ordered those be left behind so that he could claim them as a loss with FEMA! It is this sort of integrity that earns JFA Hrustich the Insurance Industry Award!
The Double Dip Award
The Winner of this award has already been recognized. It is almost embarrassing the multitude of ways he is debasing himself through this crisis.
Personal leave time is a contractual benefit that may only be used when staffing allows and at the discretion of the chief. In times of county wide emergency, one would not expect such leave time being granted. Well that may be true unless you are one of the JFA's pets. Hrustrich authorized a personal leave time for one of his acolytes in the midst of the crisis. Of course, his supplicant had a personal emergency he needed to attend to, right? Wrong! This particular toady used his leave time and was paid by the village for the day. He then came into work and worked his regular shift and received overtime pay of time and a half. So for being at his job for his regular shift, this individual received 2 1/2 times his regular pay. Life is good for those who curry favor with the JFA. And to further bolster the JFA's Insurance Industry Award, this overtime will likely be submitted to FEMA for reimbursement.
The Bubble Boy Award
As the waters rose on Wednesday and Thursday, area residents grabbed all they could and fled their homes for higher ground. In some instances our neighbors were only able to make it out with the clothes on their backs. They left behind a lifetime of dreams to be swallowed by the flood waters.
So what was John Sullivan doing while others ran for safety? The Fire Starter saw John Sullivan adjusting his campaign signs on Harry L Drive in front of Wegmans. While people were in need, all Sullivan could think of was his own political fortune. "I am safe in my bubble. Tough luck for you. And vote for Sullivan!"
The SPCA Award
In this category we have two winners. Many have read of the animals that were lost at Petco in Johnson City. Mayor Hannon found the deaths of the animals "disgusting". But what Hannon fails to even try to rebut is Petco's explanation. Note that Hannon does not claim that Petco was told to evacuate. He merely claims that they should have known. The responsibility for these animal deaths falls squarely on Mayor Hannon and his administration. But don't hold your breath for that admission from Hannon.
What many do not realize is that there was an additional opportunity to rescue these animals. When Petco became aware of the risk to animals, it brought workers and boats to access the store and rescue the animals. Unfortunately, JFA Hrustich refused to allow them access and the animals died.
For these reasons, this Award must be shared by JFA Hrustich and Mayor Hannon. Great work guys!
In the face of all of this dishonesty, double dealing and selfishness we have innumerable examples of bravery, compassion and dedication. Many examples come from our fire fighters and police officers. These public servants in many instances left their own personal disaster to mitigate the disasters of their fellow citizens. And of course, there were the friends, neighbors and perfect strangers who stepped up to do what they could. It is against their blinding excellence that the dark self interested actions of our "award winners" can be seen.
And in this instance, we hope that the public really gets the leadership it deserves.