From late September 2009 to May 22, 2011, my phone calls to Fire Chief Jeff Murray were regularly answered by his voice message. Requests for returned calls were not honored.
On some occasions, when his secretary or a staff member answered, they would tell me that my call would be attended to. During a July 13, 2010, call, a staff member told me that her boss would reply on or around the 20th. That day came and went and the nonreply pattern resumed.
Why does the top leader of our Fire Department fall short in his words and action?
These calls were all about following up on a report I filed with Murray on unwarranted conduct by his subordinate at the Fire Prevention Bureau in September 2009. My report to him has been ignored to this day.
This lack of interest and courtesy to concerned citizens are a blot on the chief's leadership role and integrity of his department. It impairs the delivery of open government.
Therefore, is it a good thing that a County Charter amendment proposes that his department be overseen by the Fire Commission? I think not.
With all good intentions, the Fire Commission meets usually once a month with a full load of business to conduct. If a meeting quorum can't be obtained, the commission cannot function. Thus, it lacks a continuous flow of oversights, unlike our county government. It lacks also our county government's day-to-day reality check on its efficiency.