RFFOW President’s Message | June 2001

by Richard Warbrouck

As I write this article on Sunday May 27th (2001) for our June Newsletter, the first 30day Special Session of the Legislature has come to a close. “Special” is the legal term for the session that follows the regular annual session. SB 6166 which deals with the LEOFF surplus has passed the Senate but has not passed the House. The Bill is alive and is being considered along with all the other proposals being discussed in an effort to develop a state budget. Governor Locke said on Thursday that he will give the legislators a week’s recess and then call them back for a second Special 30day Session to begin June 4. If SB 6166 passes as presently written we will have no choice but to file a lawsuit. I for one consider a lawsuit a last resort and feel that we should turn to the court only after every other attempt has failed.

As I reported at the last meeting I am very disappointed with the attitude and performance of the Coalition. It appears at times that we are like a Greyhound bus going down the road without a driver. There seems to be more of a reactive than proactive agenda. Meetings are called with very little notice. Some of the delegates are not invited to the meetings therefore information is not equally shared by all the delegates. Opinions are formed based on feeling and not fact. Some delegates are hell bent on going to court and have little to no interest in trying to resolve the issue. Motions are made and not carried out. Two or three week periods pass between meetings with little or nothing done, making our performance less than professional. What bothers me the most is the suspicious nature that we are administered by. There are constant personal attacks on members and the lack of a unified message coming from the Coalition. For example, two board members will speak to two different groups and give two different messages as to the position of the Coalition. I feel that we may have missed a window of opportunity to develop a package that all interested parties could have agreed to. I don’t want to discourage you but I do feel that it is my responsibility to give you the facts. All is not lost. The original intent in forming the Coalition is still prevalent. I have written a four page letter to the Chairman with copies to the Board outlining my concerns. I have discussed this extensively with our delegates, alternates and with the Board of Directors of the RFFOW. I addressed this issue at our last RFFOW meeting. I have also let it be known that I am beginning to question whether it’s in the best interest of the RFFOW to continue as a member of the Coalition.

I have not transferred the checks (donations) that many of you sent in as a result of my solicitation letter and will not do so until these problems are resolved. We have discussed this entire issue with a very prominent attorney to identify all possible alternatives. We do not want and will not do anything that would jeopardize a successful conclusion. There is a possibility that we could take legal action that would complement and strengthen any litigation filed by the Coalition. There is a meeting of the Coalition scheduled for this Tuesday. I will make every attempt to bring these issues to the forefront for a full discussion. I am optimistic that we can resolve these problems, however if all attempts fail we will be prepared with proper legal advice to do what is in the best interest of the Retired Fire Fighters of Washington.

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