Mon
Jan 23 2006
12:35 pm

Betty Bean has the latest on the Knoxville Fire Department controversy that involves racial tensions between the Chief and his assistant chiefs, back and forth charges of discrimination, and alleged rumor mongering. According to the article, there may be more to the story than just internal disagreements:

“I’m beginning to think that Chief Perez is being set up,” said Dr. Loida Velazquez, a member of the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (her husband Luiz is executive director of the organization). “Why is it not discrimination when the chief is called ‘the little Mexican Pedro’ when he’s not Mexican and his name is not Pedro? And now, his assistant is not guilty of race discrimination, but Chief Perez is guilty of age discrimination?”

Velazquez is also disturbed because the substance of Stuart’s phone call has been ignored.

“Chief Perez is trying to bring some concept of discipline to this fire department, and all these things he is trying to do are not being well received by some of the firefighters, and that is creating this kind of reaction. They are doing what they can to get rid of him.”

The article quotes a veteran fireman who says "good old boys" in the department are pressuring Mayor Haslam to "run him [Chief Perez] off". There's also a statemment by City Council member Rob Frost regarding the rumors that Perez had a "secret plan" to close a North Knoxville fire station, which residents apparently first learned about by way of anonymous fliers stuffed in their mailboxes.

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