A public dispute between a Republican mayoral candidate and Mayor Greg Goodnight escalated this week with local public safety unions decrying statistics provided by the sitting mayor.
Last week a plan put forth by Republican candidate for mayor Tyler Moore drew upon numbers concerning Kokomo Police Department and Kokomo Fire Department work hours, of which he claimed he received from the respective unions, as a point to call for increased staffing levels within the departments.
His plan drew sharp criticism from Goodnight, who called Moore a liar over the work hour numbers the Republican put forth. This week the feud extended to the Kokomo Fraternal Order of Police and Professional Firefighters of Kokomo Local 396, who decried Goodnight’s explanations for police and firefighter work hours.
Moore’s public safety plan claimed that the average local firefighter worked almost 60 hours a week, while the average Kokomo police officer worked more than 50 hours a week. Those numbers served as the impetus for Goodnight’s recent spat with Moore. Primarily, Goodnight cited internal data from a 30-week period starting in January as he said KPD officers work, on average, 35.17 hours a week. Similarly, for firefighters Goodnight’s data suggested they, on average, work 48.75 hours a week.
The city’s original data, however, included firefighters that haven’t worked this year, and once those totals were removed from the equation the average increased to 49.98 hours per week for KFD firefighters.
Regardless, Local 396 President Chris Frazier said Goodnight’s methodology was a “insulting” for local firefighters because the city data factored vacation time into the averages when the department operates utilizing a Kelly Shift Schedule. That is, firefighters operate on a nine-day cycle, starting with one 24-hour shift, followed by a day off, then another 24-hour shift, followed by a day off, and then a final 24-shift is completed prior to a four-day break. Then the cycle repeats, said Frazier, meaning some weeks amount to 48 work hours, while others can be 72-hour weeks.
“These responses come from a pro-union administration that Goodnight claims he is,” said Frazier. “If you took this argument to a union meeting, and said, ‘OK, well you guys might say you work a 40-hour week, but you don’t. And here’s why,’ then come in and cut it down and cut it down. They wouldn’t take that very kindly. That would be a slap in their face … There are vacations, all these things that are benefits that we’ve negotiated for and worked for. Now, they’re summarily pulled out of our total numbers and told, ‘That’s not true because you don’t actually work this many hours because you had a vacation’ and this and that. That’s kind of the idea behind it, why it’s more insulting than anything.”
Frazier said not accounting for vacations, KFD firefighters average 56 hours a week.
Kokomo FOP President Jeramie Dodd gave a statement in response to last week’s article and declined to answer further questions.
“In reference to the numbers recently released by the city, in the less-than 40 hours a week that they say police officers work, it’s our opinion that this is more of the city belittling what police officers actually do,” said Dodd.
Goodnight, stood by his recently-released data, claiming the numbers were “facts from the city’s payroll department” and asked why none of those involved have released any hard data concerning their claims.
“This is getting bizarre,” said Goodnight. “Dodd and Frazier gave Tyler Moore bad information, and Tyler Moore promoted that bad information. Now, Dodd and Frazier are personally embarrassed for letting their political candidate down. They have egg on their face and are now lashing out to try and make it up to Tyler.”
Frazier went on to claim that last year Goodnight told him the city intended to hire four more firefighters by the end of 2018 and four more at the beginning of 2019. However, he said three of the city’s chosen hires opted out of the positions with the fire department due to pay and benefits. The city, said Frazier, ended up finding one more individual to hire, but that left the new hires two shy of the stated goal. The plan to hire four additional firefighters at the beginning of the year, said Frazier, was abandoned, but he said the intent showed the city needed more firefighters.
“They’ve already told [us] it’s not going to happen,” said Frazier. “We’re not hiring this year at all … because Greg is not running for mayor. That was all done in a show for election when he was still trying to decide if he was going to run. He was going to hire four and then hire some more. It would take away some of the argument of, ‘You’re not hiring any firefighters.’ Since he decided he’s not going to run, they’ve completely canned that, and they’re not hiring anybody now.”
Goodnight didn’t outright deny Frazier’s claim but called it a “political game.”
“This is part of the same political games they have been playing for years,” said Goodnight. “Remember, Jeramie Dodd’s dad ran against me for major four years ago only to lose in his primary. They attack with falsehoods and misdirection because that is all they have. It’s been over a week, and we are still waiting for Tyler Moore to show us any facts to back up his claims.”