Thursday, September 06, 2007

Continuing Fire Department Controversy

The controversy over personnel continues in the St. Louis Fire Department, and it may cost the Chief his job.

Sam Simon, the city's public safety director, has sent a letter to Chief Sherman George, ordering him to make all the promotions necessary to fill the more than 30 positions in the department which have remained vacant for at least three years because of a legal battle over the promotions test.

Today on my KMOX show, I asked Mayor Slay's chief of staff Jeff Rainford if this order really came from the mayor, what would happen to Chief George if he did not comply, whether this was a coordinated effort to push the chief out, and whether the Mayor's actions are the result of pressure from Local 73 of the firefighter's union.

We also discussed the appalling number of applicants who failed the fire department entrance exam this summer -- nearly 1,000 out of 1,350 -- and whether the city's withdrawal of that exam and cancellation of its results are because it fears litigation. If it turns out that the majority of those applicants are graduates of the St. Louis public schools, this is a harsh condemnation of a system that failed to teach the basic skills of reading, writing, and math.

Listen.


In response to the city's letter, Chief George's attorney Tom Blumenthal spoke with my colleague Carol Daniel to rebut the city's claims, explain what the Chief will do now, and whether the order from Sam Simon is legal in the first place.

Listen.