This is a follow-up to an article that appeared on another blog a few weeks ago. It was sent to me anonymously and I read it through a few times before sharing with all of you. I will not say enjoy but I will say share this with everyone you know. It drives home what we are talking about. M
You have to hand it to Fire Commissioner Lloyd Ayers; he’s no diplomat, and he’s certainly no politician. If he was, he would have never released a recent three-page diatribe ostensibly defending his indefensible record on matters of race and discipline as Commissioner of the Philadelphia Fire Department.
In case you don’t know, the PFD is still reeling from the recent inexplicable and tragic loss of two of their own. Veteran Lieutenant Robert Neary and Firefighter Daniel Sweeny were killed when a hulking, vacant Kensington warehouse collapsed on them while fighting a raging inferno there. The department is also still coming to grips with the very public suicides of Firefighters David Panella and Firefighter Jack Slivinski. Commissioner Ayers handled the Slivinski affair particularly badly, harshly disciplining a vulnerable young firefighter for what amounts to charitable outreach; something ordinarily celebrated in healthy societies.
At almost every turn, Ayers says or does the wrong thing. In this instance, while his obviously shaken department is still grieving their most recent loss, he decides to launch into a public missive about race relations; an area in which he has little credibility. Ayers does so in the form of an official departmental memorandum in response to a Philadelphia Magazine article.
Why Ayers felt he had to engage in a public battle with a reporter, especially now, is bizarre to say the least. As Fire Commissioner, he is clearly supposed to be above a reporter’s public criticisms; but Ayers is notoriously thin-skinned. Apparently the criticism dished out by the reporter (well-documented and dead on) hit home. Why he simply didn’t give the reporter a call to discuss the article privately is bewildering. After all, Ayers gave the reporter access and knew that the story was being written.
In his three-page rant, Ayers dismisses claims of racial problems in the PFD. He also claims that he is as pure as the driven snow on issues such as discipline. His chutzpah is surpassed only by his breathtaking and willful disregard of the truth. To believe Commissioner Ayers on issues involving race and discipline in the fire department, as Hillary Clinton once famously said, “requires a willful suspension of disbelief.” Ayers boldly proclaims he is concerned only with the facts, yet he ignores inconvenient facts.
Here are some facts that the Commissioner would rather not exist:
His department was sued successfully, and a settlement was paid out of taxpayer funds, because his Deputy Commissioner (allegedly) improperly attempted to influence a promotional board into favoring minorities. This is the same Deputy Commissioner who is widely despised within the rank and file, and achieved a RANDOM number 1 on multiple promotional exams. That number is supposed to be generated by a computer RANDOMLY, yet somehow, years apart on different exams, the computer assigns him a random number one ranking. The odds are astronomical. Such promotional and testing “irregularities” are commonplace and have destroyed what little credibility this department has on the issues of hiring and promotions.
This same Deputy Commissioner spent almost no time as a Battalion Chief and no time as a Deputy Chief, yet is somehow more qualified to hold his job and title than other senior officers, who have spent years honing their fire ground and emergency scene command skills. He is still employed by the department.
Ayers also promoted another wildly inexperienced and tactically challenged African-American Battalion Chief to Executive Chief; again skipping over other highly qualified Deputy Chiefs and a rank.
Ayers’s safety Chief is so widely despised that he cannot hold a field command. Ayers is reportedly considering elevating the safety Chief to Executive Chief as well, so he will have authority over the Deputy Chiefs who are hurting his feelings because of his poor management as the head of that critical office. This man has recommended disciplining firefighters who get burned fighting fires.
Ayers’s pick for head of the PFD Homeland Security office is unqualified, and the unit had to be placed under Fire Prevention so he could nominally remain in charge.
Ayers forgets about the African-American captain who improperly attempted to influence the fire department ENTRANCE TEST. Ayers PROMOTED him to Battalion Chief while describing him as “sharp,” yet he is widely regarded as incompetent. What message does that send?
Ayers forgets about the African-American captain who (allegedly) stalked and sexually harassed a female firefighter to the point where she cannot work in proximity to him. He, too, was PROMOTED to Battalion Chief.
Another African-American captain who was FIRED for his racist views was subsequently re-hired (under the Hairston administration) and promoted to Battalion Chief. This man has enjoyed the favor of Ayers and his Valiant associates.
As past president of the Valiants (an association exclusively for African-American firefighters) Ayers proudly boasts of his ties to that organization, while persecuting those who oppose his racial agenda. Ironically, the one high-ranking officer he did fire was involved in a personal, off-duty domestic dispute with his wife. His real infraction was being touted as Ayers’s replacement.
There are a slew of other cases like this where the Commissioner has ignored charges or meted out anemic discipline to minority firefighters, while slamming white firefighters and officers for infractions. Lying, theft, gun charges, and vehicle accidents are all swept under the rug; oftentimes the culprits promoted, even though civil service regulations forbid the practice. It is no secret why.
More inconvenient facts come out in the most recent internal PFD survey that overwhelmingly indicates there are significant racial issues dividing the department. Ayers is content to ignore them as well. These findings were backed up by the PICA-funded Berkshire Report. It’s all there in “black and white” for anyone who wants to find the real facts which Ayers wishes didn’t exist.
Ayers’s blatant racial agenda is the most important aspect of his administration to him and his cadre. He is as much as admitted it. Incredibly, he points out the case of Captains Michael Bresnan who is white and Jeff Thompson who is African-American as an example of his colorblind justice. If it wasn’t so pathetic an example it would be funny. BOTH men were demoted on the flimsiest of charges. Sadly, Thompson was widely acknowledged as a sacrificial lamb due to the controversy Bresnan’s demotion caused.
As head of CAFFA (the Concerned American Fire Fighters Association) and current board member of Local 22 IAFF, Bresnan was disciplined clearly for his outspoken opposition to the administration’s race-based conduct and policies. Thompson was demoted for nothing more than a firehouse prank… and poor timing.
Local 22 has files and records of the incredible disparity that passes for discipline in the PFD today. Astonishingly, while Ayers laments a low percentage of minority officers, he claims minorities account for a disproportionate amount of DISCIPLINE. He is so far out of touch that his own arguments make no sense. The rank and file are not the only people disturbed by his lack of leadership. Apparently, City Council has also had enough. If last week’s budget hearings are any indication, he is wearing out everyone’s patience.
Finally, we have the last nail in the coffin. It is the notorious YouTube video where Ayers, unflinchingly, in full uniform and with a big grin on his face gives an on-camera endorsement of the African-centered bookstore “Black & Nobel.” This very same bookstore sells adult material and delivers to prisons. Ironic that Ayers persecuted Jack Slivinski for “selling sex,” while at the same time he is giving “shout outs” and endorsing stores that do it for profit. While he claims he was caught off-guard by the interview, the “I Heart Black & Nobel” sticker festooned on his sweater indicates otherwise. Ayers’s lies do as much damage as his policies.
If Lloyd Ayers’s objective was to divide and destroy this department, he has succeeded wildly; along with this Mayor. If it was to improve and unite it, he has failed miserably. His incompetence and the incompetence of those with whom he has surrounded himself is doing irreversible damage and needlessly putting lives at risk. His resignation is long overdue.