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Brentwood Manipulated ECCFPD Application Process

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The City of Brentwood is set to finally make its East Contra Costa Fire Protection District Board of Director appointments next week as the Fire Ad-Hoc Sub-committee made their recommendations after months of delay.  The problem is, the most qualified candidate was not chosen in Ben Whitener who is a former firefighter within the district.

To say that former ECCFPD firefighter Ben Whitener does not place in the top 4 of 11 is a joke and I would hope the rest of the City Council would reject these recommendations as this process was fixed from the beginning with Robert Brockmans anti-union and anti-firefighter comments.  Right when he opened his mouth in July, these process was manipulated and ultimately its how it played out by the ad-hoc committee.

I’d encourage the full council to correct this manipulation.

The committee is made up of Council members Erick Stonebarger and Robert Brockman who are recommending at a minimum, the following three applicants be appointed to the Fire District Board as the Brentwood representatives:

  1. Stephen Smith (term to expire 12/31/2015)
  2. Greg Cooper (term to expire 12/31/2015)
  3. Joe Young (term to expire 12/31/2014)

So while the ad-hoc committee made the recommendation after interviewing 11-applicants, the unfortunate thing was this was done in a very private setting instead of alerting the public interviews were on-going.   To make matters worse,  missing from the staff report are the full list of applicants along with their applications and qualifications. Oakley provided this, Brentwood should have extended the same courtesy within its staff report.

The truth is, when you compare Mr. Whiteners track record to any of the other candidates on paper, its likely not even close because Whitener has actually served the District–but we wouldn’t know that since the applications and experience were not shared.  Whitener knows the District inside and out and could do a lot of good on the Board as he knows what can and cannot be done and could work towards a long term solution.

On November 30, city clerk Margret Wimberly provided me with the following list:

  • Jana Aubert
  • Anthony Bargiacchi
  • Bruce Bradley
  • Harold Bray
  • Greg Cooper
  • Gabriele Dawson
  • Patricia Howe
  • Stephen Smith
  • Rolando Villareal
  • Ben Whitener
  • Joe Young

In looking at the list, only one name stands out to me and he was not chosen (Whitener). A major disservice was done to Brentwood and the District by this ad-hoc committee which goes back a few months to comments made by Council member Brockman during their July 24 council meeting.

During the meeting, Brockman made anti-union and anti-firefighter statements stating he wanted neither to serve on the Board showing immediate discrimination towards potential applicants.  Brockman continued stating he wanted someone who will look out for “Brentwood” instead of the District. So if one is in a union, a firefighter, or looking out for the entire District, you were not going to be picked from the start.

The other side of this is they are recommending three appointments which I can live with, but who is the one council member who will stay on? Steve Barr as stated he would like to remain but I’d like to see Joel Bryant or newly elected councilman Gene Clare be the representative of the council until they are termed out with this process. However, the best case scenario is one that is highly unlikely given this council which is four appointments.

BACKGROUND

The current Fire District Board consists of nine members: four from the City of Brentwood, three from the City of Oakley and two from the unincorporated County area, each residing within the District and the respective City limits being represented. Four members of the Brentwood City Council have been serving as the Board members since 2009. The initial appointments were for a term of four years or until qualified successors could be appointed by the Council.

At the request of the Council, the Fire Ad Hoc Sub-committee (Council Members Brockman and Stonebarger) conducted interviews with eleven applicants and are recommending at a minimum, the following three applicants be appointed to the Fire District Board as the Brentwood representatives, effective January 1, 2013:

  1. Stephen Smith (term to expire 12/31/2015)
  2. Greg Cooper (term to expire 12/31/2015)
  3. Joe Young (term to expire 12/31/2014)

If no current Council Members wish to continue serving on the Fire Board, the Sub-committee recommends appointing Anthony Bargiacchi (term to expire 12/31/2014) to serve as the fourth member of the Fire Board. The Sub-committee is recommending the terms of the appointees be staggered for continuity on the Board although the Fire Board By-laws reference four year terms.

Additionally, the Sub-committee recommends that, should no current Council Member wish to continue serving on the Fire Board, that proposed Board Member Stephen Smith be designated as the City Council liaison to the Fire Board and that he provide regular updates on Fire Board activities to the City Council at regularly scheduled Council meetings.

Additionally, the Sub-committee recommends the terms of the appointments be staggered to provide continuity of representation and recommends that proposed Board Member Stephen Smith be designated as the City Council liaison to the Fire Board and that he provide regular updates on Fire Board activities to the City Council at regularly scheduled Council meetings.

At this time the City Council may wish to appoint up to four Brentwood residents to serve as Brentwood’s representatives to the Board, replacing current Council Members. The Council has the ability to appoint a maximum of four public members, or to appoint fewer than four and have some members of the Council continue to serve on the Fire Board.

Finally, the Sub-committee recommends that Council direct staff to only provide those support services to the Fire District Board that are in contractual arrangements with the Board. Since the Board was reconstituted in 2010, City staff has been providing various support services to the District (financial analysis, etc.) without reimbursement for their efforts. At this time there is a contractual arrangement for certain Information Systems services to be provided to the District, and the Sub-committee feels it prudent to discontinue providing any additional services to the District beyond those provided for by contract.

FISCAL IMPACT

There will be no fiscal impact associated with the appointments to the Fire Board of Directors. The City has not assumed any financial or legal obligations of the locally governed District Board.

Click here to view full staff report

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Categorised in: Brentwood, ECCFPD

8 Responses »

  1. “Brockman continued stating he wanted someone who will look out for “Brentwood” instead of the District.” What an outlandish statement! That sort of thinking is what worries those of us that live outside the cities (in the District). Oh, my.

  2. I was absolutely SHOCKED that they didn’t pick Ben!

  3. Technically, Brentwood has not made this official and can be rejected at the Dec. 11 meeting. Kudos to Burk for bringing this out to the open. To leave out the full list of applicants and applications from the report is reason enought to reject these suggested appiontments. Maybe the Board did not want someone who would be buddy-buddy with the firefighters or have a conflict of interest with the labor negotiations but he could always obstain.

  4. When the fire board was created I said that it would turn into a cesspool because of the council members appointing themselves to the council. The ECCFPD would become the cities against the unincorporated areas with Brentwood being the biggest problem. I don’t often say this but “I told you so” comes to my mind.

  5. Lets look at the last paragraph of the background segment. What additional support services did the city supply?

  6. Barbara, for the most part you are right. However if the board members from Oakley and the unincorporated areas, aka “county” hold together then they hold an advantage over Brentwood’s selfish mentality. Oakley and Co. would only need to vote together a few times to let Brentwood know who is really in control.

    The two unincorporated county board members become the swing votes for either Oakley or Brentwood.

    I also think it is a real shame that Brentwood put politics before experience. I’m not surprised since the city’s leadership has been in a free fall for a few years. They used to have one of the best city councils in east county and are now known as one of the worst. Not even Blob Taylor is 100 percent responsible…..you can add Stonebarger and a few others for Brentwood’s fall from grace.

    This recent development (appointment process) is just another example that reflects poorly on the city and further degrades the fire district.

    Thanks Mr. Whitener for applying to this dysfunctional board. It’s too bad they don’t want any level of expertise to a troubleshoot a problem they are unable to solve.

    We are a long way from a solution.

  7. This is not only typical Brentwood city council stuff but you will find it in Antioch also. Self centered people not looking out for their community.

  8. Morons in Brentwood!!!!!!!!

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