Jan 28 2006
08:33 am

After giving KFD Fire Chief a chance to respond to rumors about station closings on yesterday's front page, today's KNS front page has a column about all the problems at the KFD that questions Perez's job performance. Guess they got the call to launch the swiftboat. Money quote:

Politics certainly plays a part in the culture of the Knoxville Fire Department, said Mayor Bill Haslam, and it's a culture he'd like to see change.

Whether he has confidence in Fire Chief Carlos Perez to usher in that change, however, is a question the mayor wouldn't answer Friday.

The column goes on to recite a litany of Perez's problems without much background or context, saying "questions have been raised about his job performance."

They mention the budget problem and make it sound pretty bad, but they fail to mention that he's only 2.5% over and that he says it's because he is having to use overtime to staff 28 vacant positions that will soon be filled and that he's working to get overtime under control and has already reduced it dramatically (even WBIR got that right). The column quotes the Mayor as saying Perez understands that one of his key jobs is bringing his department in on budget. Expect this to be the official reason given.

They mention his previous "firing" (and the fact that the Mayor knew about it), but fail to mention that he was going to bat for his fire fighters to get overtime (that he allegedly promised without authorization) for responding to a tornado disaster, or the fact that the fire fighters later sued and eventually got compensation.

The column also does not mention Chief Perez's qualifications or any of his accomplishments during his short tenure with the KFD.

So I guess we can all see now where this is going.

Look, I don't know why I'm defending the guy. Other than what I've read that seems to indicate he's qualified and he's determined to bring about positive changes in the department, I don't know him, or anything about the internal workings of the fire department except what I've read in the comments on the previous post about this, and I especially don't know anything about the politics surrounding the situation. But what I can see, what we've all seen before and will see again, is how the local media appears to work in coordination with local government to influence public opinion and outcomes.

Bbeanster's picture

The money quote: "Politics

The money quote: "Politics certainly plays a part in the culture of the Knoxville Fire Department, said Mayor Bill Haslam, and it's a culture he'd like to see change" is hilarious.

Firehall politics-hating Mayor Bill Haslam is the same Bill Haslam who was the guest of honor at a breakfast at Firehall #1 (the one that left firehalls empty all over town for the duration) when he was candidate Bill Haslam? The one who had firemen putting up his signs? The one who promoted the guy who put on the breakfast (and contributed $2,000 to his campaign) to interim chief?

THAT Bill Haslam wants to get politics out of the firehalls?

K-Mark's picture

I see this as part and

I see this as part and parcel of the local GOB system. "Hey. To prove our politics aren't entirely inbred, we're going to hire a hispanic (read: African-American lite) to run the fire department." But when the other GOB's in the fire dept. don't take too kindly to "Pedro" actually giving orders, well, the choir can sing: "Hey. To prove our politics aren't entirely inbred, we used to have a hispanic (read: African-American lite) fire chief.

In other words, "Hey. We tried." 
Granny's picture

Way to tell um Betty. You

Way to tell um Betty. You have been on to this fraud from the beginning. Looking forward to more in your column monday. Thanks to you and Michael Kaplan and R. for getting some truth out in this town. You are the best journalist in town and this pack of good ole boys is running scared.

rikki's picture

    That is definitely

    That is definitely incomplete reporting. Omission is the most insidious form of bias.

    There seem to be legitimate concerns over moving the ladder truck out to Fountain City, but that is hardly reason for broad swipes at the chief. If Haslam is serious about wanting to reduce the political culture in KFD, this would have been a good time to put a hose to the brush fire. Instead, he chose to stay mum and watch the flames.

knoxrocks's picture

bias news media

wbir should have told all of what is known ,in regards to chief perez' background, which is favorable, instead of leaving a bad light on the chief. I wonder if the negativity directed towards the chief is because he is not a local boy, or of his race?. wonder how many latino/hispanic children of been on mondays child with bill williams??????????

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