Why Are Houston Firefighters Endorsing Perry Over White?
September 28, 2010

Governor Rick Perry will travel to Houston on Wednesday to pick up a big endorsement from the Houston Professional Fire Fighters Association – Local 341.

President Jeff Caynon confirmed that his group will back Perry over former Houston Mayor Bill White in the race for Governor of  Texas.

“Governor Perry has consistently supported fire fighter’s causes,” said Caynon in response to my text message asking why the 3,800 member association is supporting Perry.

When I asked if  firefighters had any problems with former Mayor White,  Caynon responded, “On balance, White’s administration was good for firefighters. We got a long well for the most part and successfully negotiated two collective bargaining agreements.”

At this point I think it’s worth noting that many groups that endorse in political races have a  “friendly incumbent” rule.

That means the group will endorse an incumbent who shares the basic philosophy and supports its causes, even if  the opponent also supports the group’s issues. 

How will this endorsement play in the larger context of  a statewide campaign?

I’m sure folks in East and West Texas will wonder why Houston firefighters chose Governor Perry over the city’s former mayor.

As long as the union doesn’t slam White’s record on public safety , White can minimize the damage.

However, Perry’s campaign would be smart to tout the endorsement from the country’s fourth largest firefighter’s union located in his opponent’s hometown.

Houston Fire Fighters Association Plans to Appeal Firings
September 8, 2010

Earlier today, I posted a statement from the Houston Fire Fighters Association regarding the firing of   three firefighters.  I am updating this post with a statement from the Houston Fire Department at the end: 
Firings by HFD Chief Follow Another Inept City Investigation of Firefighters
HOUSTON, Sept. 8, 2010 – The Houston Professional Fire Fighters Association announced today it will immediately appeal the firings of three Houston Fire Department firefighters after a city investigation failed to identify who added a racially insensitive comment to an electronic patient care record several months ago.
Late Tuesday, Acting Fire Chief Rick Flanagan “indefinitely suspended” the firefighters from Station 55. The firings will be appealed today to an independent hearing examiner, the HPFFA said.
HPFFA President Jeff Caynon stated, “This inept city investigation – which could not identify who wrote the comment – caused yet another injustice for Houston firefighters and their families. Firing three people for the despicable actions of a single person is legally and morally wrong.”
When abusive investigative tactics by the city Office of Inspector General failed, Caynon said, Flanagan simply fired all three firefighters after they refused to admit to the city’s allegations and rejected 60-day suspensions. The HPFFA alleges city investigators repeatedly violated state law by denying the firefighters access to HPFFA or legal representation during questioning. The firefighters were questioned for up to six hours at a time.
Caynon added, “It’s ironic that one of Rick Flanagan’s final acts as acting chief was to protect a firefighter who was videotaped allegedly committing a crime in an HFD uniform yet he then fired firefighters after an investigation that proved nothing – except his willingness to destroy the reputations or careers of men whose innocence or guilt he cannot determine. We are troubled by the city’s pattern of treatment of firefighters in recent high-profile investigations – from the debunked ‘noose’ incident last year to the alleged HFD Station 54 graffiti incident and now this travesty.”

Statement from the Houston Fire Department

The Houston Fire Department confirms that disciplinary action was taken against three members regarding an incident in which a racial epithet was entered into an emergency medical record.  The discipline was administered following due process for the members. Use of such language as described in the related complaint constitutes a violation of public trust and will not be tolerated by the Houston Fire Department. 

One member received an indefinite suspension.  Two other members were offered 60-day suspensions in lieu of indefinite suspension.  Both chose indefinite suspension.  All three are afforded the opportunity to appeal to a hearing examiner, as specified by contract.  All three have chosen to appeal.


President of Houston FireFighters Association Responds
December 9, 2009

I received an email from Jeff Caynon, the President of  The Houston Professional Firefighters Association, regarding my earlier  post about Council Member Sue Lovell’s political mail piece targeting her council colleague Jolanda Jones.

 While Caynon says he didn’t have a problem with what I posted, he did what to reiterate that firefighters appreciate Lovell’s support.

He says she has fought for fairness and benefits for the men and women of the department.

Here is Caynon’s response: 

The nearly 4,000 men and women of the Houston Professional Firefighters Association regard Council Member Sue Lovell as a trusted friend. She is endorsed by our organization because she regularly fights for firefighters’ issues. Her recent mail piece was, in our opinion, an effort to do just that. Like nearly all of her City Council colleagues, she has been reasonable, respectful and responsive to the city’s needs. We appreciate her efforts and continue to support her.

Jeff Caynon  – President- Local 341

Houston Professional Fire Fighters Association

1907 Freeman

Houston, Texas 77009

Houston FireFighters Endorse Gene Locke For Mayor
August 13, 2009

It’s been a tough couple of weeks for Houston Firefighters. 

Allegations of racism and sexism in the department have overshadowed the good work that the men and women are doing on a daily basis to fight fires and save lives.

Houston’s next mayor will have to address issues like policies, procedures and funding for the department.

firefighters for locke 001firefighters for locke 002

On Thursday, The Houston Fire Fighters Association, IAFF Local 341, endorsed Gene Locke for Mayor of the City of  Houston.

During a brief news conference, Association President Jeff Caynon  said the group screened all four major candidates – Locke, Annise Parker, Peter Brown and Roy Morales.

firefighters for locke 003

“We ultimately endorsed Gene Locke because of his perspective on issues important to firefighters and Houston citizens and his professional experience with labor issues.”

In addition to presenting Locke with a $10, 000 campaign contribution,  Caynon also noted that this is a challenging time for Houston firefighters, and the 4-thousand member group believes that Locke is “the best candidate to maintain and build upon our recent efforts to improve workplace and labor conditions within the Houston Fire Department.”

Locke  called it an “honor to get the endorsement of  the brave men and women who protect the city.”

The endorsement is considered one of the major union endorsements during a city election, though usually not as big a deal as the Houston Police Officers Union.

2 on the Beat is anxiously waiting to see who will pick up that support.