Lantigua attacks Firefighters for “getting paid to sleep”

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Willie Lantigua 06-13-06
Lawrence Mayor Willie Lantigua

Lawrence Firefighters react to Lantigua’s Attacks

By: Tom Duggan – July 2010

Lawrence Mayor Willie Lantigua’s war against police and firefighters in the city of Lawrence has reached a new low, firefighters told The Valley Patriot last month after Lantigua attacked them as lazy and greedy during several city council meetings and public statements in the press.

Lantigua has accused the Lawrence firefighters of refusing to “come to the table to negotiate” in public even after admitting that there would be no negotiation with the unions. Lantigua was offered a counter proposal of cuts by fire and police unions that would avoid most of the layoffs and demotions Lantigua proposed in his original budget.

But the mayor refused to accept any alternatives to layoffs, refusing to even address public safety officials’ offer to take a pay cut, give back raises and make department cuts in other areas.

But it was Lantiguas comments that the cops and firefighters were lazy, “being greedy” and “getting paid to sleep” that caused firefighters to start speaking out individually.

“One of the earlier speakers talk about moral responsibility, I like that,” Lantigua told the Lawrence City council while trying to convince them to approve his budget which contained cozens of layoffs in public safety while he was handing out raises to friends in city hall.

“I don’t think any of you get paid when you sleep, some of them [firefighters] do. I don’t think any of you get paid overtime on your day off, some of them do. I don’t think you get paid to change your uniform when you get work, and then change it back up when you leaving. So, when we talk about saving jobs, let’s look in the mirror. Let’s be serious. Our doors have been open from day one. I came before you June first and stated clearly (inaudible Willlie-speak). Most recently some have eluded to try to negotiate, eluded to.. to walk away and go home… that’s it. And they want to blame US? That’s easy to do. But if that comes with the job I will take that responsibility.”

Lantigua said that if people get hurt as the result of the layoffs he fought for in public safety, the blame lies with the Sullivan administration whom he blames for the city’s reported financial “crisis”.

“What the mayor did was gross. I’ve been a firefighter for about 10 years and I have never seen anything like this,” one firefighter said after calling into The Valley Patriot newsroom and asking not to be identified for fear of retribution “like what’s going on in the police department and what he is doing to Chief Murphy.”

“He wants to paint us like a bunch of lazy clowns who get paid to sleep. I would like to see Willie Lantigua climb a ladder and pull a baby from a third floor porch with third degree burns unable to cry because she is in so much pain. I’d love to see any politicians in this city do what we do for one week and tell me we get paid to sleep. We get paid to miss Christmas and holidays with our families. We get paid to respond to emergencies on a moments notice. We have tried very hard to work with this new administration but they were determined, and I include Bob Nunes from the State Department of Revenue in this, they were determined to destroy this department for political reasons. God help this city!”

The Valley Patriot newsroom received no less than a dozen similar calls from Lawrence firefighters saying that they were worried about the lives of those firefighters remaining on the job after the Lantigua layoffs take affect. One firefighter said he didn’t “know how this city can go a year with this kind of staffing and not lose a life as a result.”

RELATED STORY: Targeted! Fire Chief Murphy: I’m Being Targeted

All pictures and written material are (C) Copyright, Valley Patriot, Inc., 2010