From The Secretary ...
By Frank Kelly, Secretary
Promotional Selection Process

The promotional process, absent for nearly a decade poses quite a dichotomy. The single most important component for your future (the promotional process) is based on components for promotion that remain a paradigm of subjectivity.

Our attempts to diminish such subjectivity failed in the California Supreme Court.

Charter Section A-8-590 5 (9) (3) “… explicitly provides that binding arbitration is not the means of resolving this dispute.”

The dispute; after nearly three years of negotiations, Civil Service declared impasse and implementing banding. Local 798 sought relief in the Courts seeking arbitration.

Charter Section A8-590-(9) (3) “… implicitly permits the City to implement the new Rule 313 unilaterally after bargaining in good faith to impasse”.

Those two declarations proved to be the dagger in the heart. However, the court precluded “we emphasize the narrowness of our holding. We do not, of course, decide whether in fact the Commission’s alternative will survive legal challenges based on antidiscrimination laws. No such challenge is before us. Nor do we decide that the Commission’s selection method is superior to those proposed by the Union.”

The H-30 Captains selection process announcement is now before us, and the bittersweet future of the SFFD family is now in the hands of Chief Joanne Hayes-White.

The Chief may very well be between a rock and a hard place. The Certification Rule statistically valid grouping (banding)* coupled with non-quantifiable secondary criteria is in conflict with Civil Services’ promulgation of the merit system.

Although non-Quantifiable Secondary Criteria appears in the Rules and has Civil Services’ blessing, the Charter and Civil Service Rules contain a non-discrimination clause. The clause ends with this verbiage “… and other non-merit factors”. Secondary Criteria not specifically defined nor quantified yet interwoven as an integral part of the selection process is by definition a non-merit factor.

Promotional appointments should weigh heavy on the Chief’s mind. Broad discretion and subjective secondary criteria smack of the possible rebirth of the Spoil System. The accompanying siblings, favoritism, cronyism and nepotism, if accommodated, will lead to a dysfunctional family. Not exactly something the San Francisco Fire Department family needs for the next 25 years.

The Famous San Francisco Fire Department Survey Circa 2006

Don’t ya love surveys? I mean, surveys, we’re just suckers for surveys, kid! Ya know, the phone rings, you pick up the receiver and … pause … Hello my friend, how are you today? You answer Well! I mean I’m well thank you … uh … How are you? You’re think’n here, what the hell, I’m home alone, got nothing goin’ on in life, you’re feeling tired and forsaken … Oh! Very good sir … suddenly your thought process interrupted by a recording … We’re conducting a survey, if you wish to participate please press 9 followed by the # sign, we hope you have time to answer a few questions?

Great you think to myself … I mean it’s raining outside and as I said, you got nothing going on anyway … Sure! You respond, what’s up? Surveys – come on, like they’re to die for right!

The new SFFD employee survey looks very official. The cover page includes San Francisco Fire Department lettering, the official San Francisco City and County Fire Department Seal, Employee Survey Instructions, and it’s dated July/August 2006.

What!!! You haven’t seen the survey? Tick! Tick! Tick! Oh! ... I apologize but attorney client privileges prevent me from declaring my sources, but umm, the document appears to have originated from within the San Francisco Fire Department headquarters at 698 Second Street. Oh, and there’s an ongoing official internal investigation to find out who leaked the survey to Local 798. My lips forever will remain sealed, but ahh … between you, me, and the fence post, call off the jam, there’s more than one copy of the survey out there.

But wait!! Who authorized the official looking survey? Certainly, not some of our friends from the EMS Administration. I thought the former DPH operatives/profiteers abandoned their attempted coup to take over the San Francisco Fire Department after the passage of Proposition “F”. Ya mean they’re still trying to slay the fire eatin’ goose that lay their golden eggs?

Well, the one sure positive in this whole scenario is that Chief Joanne Hayes-White upon receiving information/knowledge of the unofficial survey ordered all such surveys to be rescinded, destroyed, shredded, incinerated, never again to see the light of day. But why stop there?

A thirty eight question survey. I can only hope the Captain’s selection process is as extensive! Oh, and by the way, the survey implies if you’re assigned to Suppression, you’re basically the problem. Your safety and patient safety is at risk. Your freedom of speech is compromised and the work ethic of your immediate supervisor is questionable at best.

Of course, we have heard all this sheep dip before, as token subordinates of our DPH saviors. Where oh where would we be without their largess?

What? … You question my veracity or suggest that I may prevaricate?

Let’s review question #20 of the survey … #20. “…I AM SATISFIED WITH THE LEADERSHIP IN THIS DEPARTMENT”

Excuse me, pretty blatant, that’s what’s known as a “NO CONFIDENCE VOTE”, evidence for your detractors to submit to your superiors for your unfortunate demise. And by the way, the authors of the Survey are still working at 698 Second Street. Go figure!

Contrary to theory, the fox doesn’t always hunt alone. Remember, “when the cheese comes around it’s usually after dinner - but the fox is after dinner too.


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