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Letters related to Rodeo-Hercules Fire Protection District

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Letters related to Rodeo-Hercules Fire Protection District

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									RODEO - HERCULES FIRE PROTECTION DISTRICT
1680 REFUGIO VALLEY ROAD, HERCULES, CALIFORNIA 94547
(510) 799-4561 • FAX: (510) 799-0395
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1 APRIL 2010
This letter to my fellow board members is my Vote of No Confidence Vote in those colleagues.
My loss of confidence in my fellow directors is based in three specific concerns; (a) this board is,
on a ongoing basis, making fiscally irresponsible decisions; (b) the decisions to force former
Chief Gary Boyles to step down; and (c) my colleagues actions in denying me, the director who
garnered the largest number of votes at the last election, my lawful right to fully participate in all
board business.
The most egregious of your actions is your ignoring of the financial realities of 2010.
I talked with County Assessor, Gus Kramer, who agrees with me that the Rodeo-Hercules Fire
Districts (RHFD) income from property taxes will be down about 16% this year and probably
16-18% the following year. There will be a continued slide as more and more property owners
go "under water" and loose their homes. This reality is likely to continue longer and to be more
devastation that of some years back and RHFD will not recover the lost property tax revenue for
many, many years.
1. You have made a conscious choice to ignore these realties and approve a 3 year collective
bargaining agreement granting raises in each year while receiving no consideration from labor
for agreeing to an altered work schedule that provides advantages to the employees.
2. This Board approved spending $25,000 of RHFD money to build a restroom adjacent to the
Refugio Valley Road fire station because some employees complained that CERT class members
would use the restroom in the fire station located a few steps away, while attending training
classes held totaling 24 class sessions each year - that's over $ 1,000 per class so that the
firefighters are not inconvenienced by CERT members using "their" restroom. All of this is
occurring at a time when RHFD is hemorrhaging money. If in fact a restroom was justified,
RDA funds could have been obtained from the City of Hercules.
3. You have expended several thousands of dollars on legal fees to usher Chief Boyles out-the-
door; in unsuccessful efforts to deny me my seat on the board; and arguing over the meaning of
the terms in Chiefs Boyles agreement with the District. It is reasonable, in light of your
behavior, to expect that these expenditures will continue to grow
4. Your conduct with regard to the strike team manpower is disgraceful. The State requires that
three firefighters be provided with required equipment when providing strike team aid for
forest/wild fires; but will reimburse the district for a fourth member if sent. I agreed with Chief
Boyles that this fourth member be a "reserve" for training. A few disgruntled employees
I":
RODEO - HERCULES EIRE PROTECTION DISTRICT
1680 REFUGIO VALLEY ROAD, HERCULES, CALIFORNIA 94547
(510) 799-4561 • FAX: (510) 799-0395
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consider this plan an affront because it reduced their overtime opportunities. You capitulated to
the vocal malcontents abandoning your duty to manage the public money responsibly.
5. You are currently allowing a long time Battalion Chief to "spike" his pension by increasing
his acting chief pay to the same amount Chief Boyles was making only after Chief Boyles went
through multiple pay step increases. None of this is either "providing leadership" or being
"fiscally responsible".
This board has removed a very capable Administrative Chief Officer (and a 37 year veteran of
the Fire Service) for no viable reason; in spite of the fact that an independent investigation,
financed by the board in response to the Union's "no confidence" vote, found no wrong doing on
his part. It appears from my perspective that an appointed director with a personal agenda led the
attack on Chief Boyles and that other directors were intimidated.
You illegally prevented me from participating in the discussions concerning Chief Boyles'
departure; and even now continue to pursue a Quo Warranto action while every lawyer I have
spoken with agrees that there is no legally sufficient basis for the action. The Contra Costa
Times has been highly critical of your actions in this regard.
This effort has been costly for the district; and will cost more before it is ended unless you
decide to act reasonably.
This board is charged with responsibility to think far into the future and act to ensure that RHFD
has the ability to provide for the public's safety and to respond to the needs of our citizens. This
Board has blatantly abandoned these duties. I question all of your abilities to serve on this board
and I question your motives in making the decisions enumerated here.
I have always supported top qualified employees and I have always supported top pay and
benefits. I have also supported our hiring and retaining the best available candidate. I do not
support the outrageous expenditures of public money; and failure to support responsible
management.
Respectfully submitted,
William "Bill" Prather
Rodeo Hercules Fire District, Director since 1994
Palo AUa Office:
William D. Ross
Kypros G. Hoslettcr
Karin A. Briggs
Isabel Birnicta
Matthew S. Schuman
Law Office of
William D. Ross
400 Lambert Street
Palo Alto, California 94306
Telephone: (650) 843-8080
Facsimile: (650)843-8093
520 South Grand Avenue, Suite 300
Los Angeles, CA 90071-2610
Telephone: (213) 892-1592
Facsimile: (213)892-1519
File No: 42113
April 14, 2010
VIA EMAIL
The Honorable J. R. Stafford, Chairperson
and Members of the District Board of Directors
Rodeo-Hercules Fire Protection District
1680 Refugio Valley Road
Hercules, California 94547
Re: April 1, 2010 Letter from Director Prather to Board of Directors;
Factual Summary of Representations	
Dear Chairperson Stafford and Members of the District Board:
This communication responds objectively to representations made by Director
Prather in the above-referenced letter. We have reviewed District documents applicable
to each of the representations.
Collective Bargaining Agreement
Director Prather claims the District Board of Directors' (the "Board") approval of
a new "collective bargaining agreement" was not financially favorable to the District.
Minutes from the November 19, 2009 Board Special Meeting show that the Board
approved a new Memorandum of Understanding between the District and Local 1230
with four of five directors voting yes. Director Prather was absent from the meeting. The
Minutes show that Director Prather was unreachable by cell phone.
Station 76 Improvements
Director Prather claims the Board approval of expenditures of $25,000 to build a
restroom adjacent to Station 76 was not justified. The Minutes from the August 26, 2009
Board Regular Meeting show that the Board approved the proposal. Director Prather was
present when the motion was approved. The Minutes do not specify how many directors
approved the proposal, and provide only that Director Trujillo moved to approve the
G:\421.003\LTR\2010\Stafford (prather complaint) 04i310.doc
The Honorable J. R, Stafford, Chairperson
and Members of the District Board of Directors
Rodeo-Hercules Fire Protection District
April 14, 2010
Page 2
proposal, that Director Bartke seconded, and the motion was approved. Only Chairperson
Stafford was absent. The Minutes specify that the funding would be provided by the
District developer impact fees account.
Lepal Fees
Director Prather claims the District has spent several thousand dollars on legal fees
to "usher Chief Boyles out-the-door," to "deny me my seat on the board," and "arguing
over the meaning of the terms in Chief Boyles' agreement with the District,"
The Board authorized District Counsel to represent the District in matters
regarding Chief Boyles on an hourly basis. All other legal representation has been under
the District retainer agreement with District Counsel, including a quo warranto action
involving Director Prather.
Strike Teams
Director Prather claims the District has not actively encouraged the use of reserve
firefighters on strike teams.
A list of strike teams used in 2009 show that reserve firefighter Reed was used on
three strike teams. Battalion Chief Biagi issued a memorandum dated July 7, 2009 to
District reserve personnel asking for their availability. Moreover, District Bulletin 15,
Section U - "Strike Team Response," provides in part, at pp. 14-15:
Relief crew is formed using overtime list for full-time firefighters. The
fourth person on the crew should he a reserve" (emphasis in original).
8.
And
10. A [strike team] crew will consist of the following:
(Captain or Engineer)
(Engineer or Driver Operator)
(Engineer, Firefighter/Driver Operator or
firefighter)
one officer
one driver
one firefighter
G:\421.003\LTR\2010\Stafford (prather complaint) 04l3IQ.doc
The Honorable J. R. Stafford, Chairperson
and Members of the District Board of Directors
Rodeo-Hercules Fire Protection District
April 14, 2010
Page 3
(Reserve firefighters may respond as the 4th person on any Type I
Engine)
Compensation for Interim Fire Chief
Director Prather claims the Board is "allowing a long time Battalion Chief to
'spike' his pension by increasing his acting chief pay."
The Board approved the employment agreement between Alan Biagi and the
District to serve as District Chief in closed session at the regular meeting on July 16,
2009, reporting the action in open session.
Minutes from the July 16,2009 meeting show that Director Prather was absent
from the meeting. However, Director Prather was present at the June 25, 2009 meeting.
At the June meeting, the Board met in closed session and approved further negotiation of
the agreement between the District and Alan Biagi to serve as Interim Fire Chief to be
finalized before the July regular meeting, reporting the action in open session.
Censure and Quo Warranto Action
Director Prather claims that the Board "illegally prevented me from participating
in the discussions concerning Chief Boyles' departure; and even now continue to pursue a
quo warranto action . . . [without] sufficient legal basis . ..
Minutes from the June 25, 2009 meeting show that the Board resolved to censure
Director Prather before the Board adjourned to closed session to consider Chief Boyles'
departure and the employment of Alan Biagi as Interim Fire Chief.
Conclusion
This summary is meant to provide the Board with factual information with respect
to Director Prather's correspondence.
If you have any questions please contact our office.
Q:\42l.003\LTR\2010\SUifford (prather complaint) 041310.doc
The Honorable J. R. Stafford, Chairperson
and Members of the District Board of Directors
Rodeo-Hercules Fire Protection District
April 14,2010
Page 4
Very truly yours,
William D. Ross
WDR:ms
Cc: Alan Biagi, Fire Chief
Donna Heymans, District Clerk
GM21.003XLTRV2010\Stafford (praiher complamO 0413 LO.doc
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RODEO-HERCULES FIRE PROTECTION DISTRICT
1680 REFUGIO VALLEY ROAD, HERCULES, CALIFORNIA 94547
(510) 799-4561 FAX: (510) 799-0395
FM1
April 14, 2010
Board of Directors
Rodeo-Hercules Fire District
1680 Refugio Valley Road
Hercules, CA 94547
In reply to comments by Board member Bill Prather in his letter (April 1, 2010) to the
Rodeo-Hercules Fire District Board and his assertion this administration or certain members are
either fiscally irresponsible, or here to "Spike" their pension I would like to offer the following:
The restroom facility recommended by me was approved by a full vote of the Board 5/0 in
favor and included Director Prather. Had there been concerns regarding expenditure of funds I
would have thought those would have been voiced at that time. It is true; $25,000 was used to
place the restroom. There were costs consisting of the unit purchase, new ADA compliant access
decking, and holding tank. Funding for the project came from the Fire District Developer Impact
Fee Account (DIF) of $45,000. DIF's can only be used for facilities or equipment that would
benefit the areas from which the fees are generated and cannot be used for any other purpose.
Restricted use of DIF's was fully complied with by this administration. Expenditures on the
training grounds and classroom facilities over the last five years are approximately $147,412.
Those projects were funded out of the general budget and DIF and approved by Board action.
Point of fact, a restroom facility was planned at the time the classroom was installed and could
have been accomplished for less than $9,000 but was denied by the Chief.
Site preparation for the restrooms, oversight of construction of the restroom itself, refitting of
the classrooms, window installation, construction of the workout facility, interior painting,
landscaping, retaining wall construction, electrical work, plumbing and holding tank installation
was conducted in-house by Fire District personnel at no additional cost and with substantial
savings of "public money". This project was also permitted and inspected by the City of
Hercules Building Department with all fees waived.
The notion this restroom was installed just to placate firefighters and to keep CERT members
from using the firefighters restroom is absurd. I would however, remind the Board that a theft of
firefighter personal property occurred when access was allowed within the station and was found
to have involved a CERT participant. Use of the classroom for CERT is small by comparison to
overall use of our training facility. CERT classes typically consist of fifteen to twenty
participants attending one two-hour session a week for eight weeks three times a year.
Beginning in March of 2009 and into 2010 there were over 130 events held within the classroom
and training ground, not just the CERT class sessions noted.
Board of Directors
Page -2-
April 14, 2010
As I have presented to the Board on previous occasions, your Department is part of a
Training Consortium made up of Rodeo-Hercules, Pinole, Contra Costa County, Richmond and
El Cerrito Fire Departments. This training facility is used and will continue to be used by the
Consortium. Typically firefighter-training classes held here are all day sessions and are attended
by a minimum of 20 personnel each day. The City of Hercules has conducted several all day ICS
training classes here with as many as 20 City staff participants in attendance. Hercules PD has
been utilizing the training facility to instruct Auto Theft Awareness and ICS just to name a few.
The CERT working group (C-8) has held their monthly meetings here. This group of twenty-five
or more is made up of agency participants from all over Contra Costa County.
Justification for this facility was based on the need to better serve the public and firefighters,
nothing else!
I find the assertion of disgraceful conduct and mismanagement of public funds regarding
strike team manpower to be a completely misinformed comment. While how, when and why
strike teams or overhead assignments are filled is completely within the authority of the Chief
and is an operational matter, there was no change to the process. In 2009 the District responded
on three OES strike teams and to one overhead request. The "Jesusita Fire" in May included one
of our reserve members Brandon Reed. There has always been difficulty in filling the fourth
position with a reserve because our reserve members are either in school or have fall time job
obligations. In light of that difficulty I sent a memo to reserves requesting those who were
interested in going on a strike team to contact Donna and commit to being available on short
notice for a minimum seven-day assignment. Due to schooling, work and other obligations no
members were available for the next deployment in August.
On a "Type I Strike Team Engine" four personnel are required. On a "Type III Strike Team
Engine" a fourth crewmember is common, encouraged and enhances overall crew safety. It is
correct that State OES reimburses the fourth person in a crew. Previously, and in spite of the
knowledge the fourth position is fully reimbursed, a fourth crewmember would not be sent if not
filled by a reserve.
Sending reserves or any firefighter for that matter on a strike team assignment for "training"
is unacceptable to me and should also be unacceptable to members of the Board. Out of county
assignments for wildland/urban interface fires is probably one of the most hazardous assignments
we face today. These types of assignments are considered "Low Frequency-High Risk". No
doubt there are occasions where you are not assigned or even see active fire.
Board of Directors
Page -3-
April 14, 2010
We have in place a more comprehensive and consistent all risk training program for reserves
with a primary goal of making our reserves not only better prepared and safe here at home but to
also work toward certifying and qualifying reserves much the same as is done through the
California Incident Command and Certification process (CICCS) for firefighters. Currently,
even the most attentive reserve lacks some of the most important training necessary when placed
in an unfamiliar environment with an out of control fire. Training for these events cannot be
accomplished in one two hour session a week. These situations are challenging enough for
experienced firefighters.
Additionally, deployment of strike teams or filling overhead assignments does not cost the
District. All costs associated with OES requested strike teams are reimbursed after twelve hours
including salary, workers compensation, administrative surcharge and apparatus costs, as well as
portal-to-portal costs to rotate out crews during long-term assignments. The District is
reimbursed at the rate of $150.00 per hour for an engine and $80.00 per day for a chiefs vehicle.
I do not understand how this is considered irresponsible management of public money.
Generally strike team or overhead assignments are beneficial to the District budget.
I would challenge anyone who would say staffing of strike teams is done as capitulation to
members of this department to provide overtime, or that it is mismanagement of public money.
Finally, with regard to the long time Battalion Chief "spiking" his pension.
When I was given this assignment, my previous responsibilities did not go away. I know the
Board is fully aware that my duties and responsibilities have greatly increased as I am
responsible for my previously existing Battalion Chief/Fire Marshall duties and our portion of
the Battalion assignment of ten (10) to eleven (11) days a month. I did not plan this and I did not
necessarily want this. To suggest I took the assignment to benefit my retirement only tells me
just how out of touch Director Prather is with this District and me. Is it to be expected that I, or
anyone for that matter take on this added responsibility without compensation?
Yours in Service,
Alan Biagi, Chief
Rodeo-Hercules Fire District

								
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