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Posts Tagged ‘HFD’

Fearing the fire reform

This ought to be interesting. Rumblings of coming reforms in Houston Fire Department’s operations have union leaders and the department’s command staff wary, despite Mayor Annise Parker’s insistence that these concerns are unwarranted. HFD’s staffing shortage has driven up overtime costs, creating a budget crisis that has, on some days, seen ambulances and fire trucks […]

We have our first HFD rolling brownout

And nothing bad happened. Three Houston firetrucks were pulled from service Friday morning, the first “brownout” in the city’s fire fleet since the Houston Fire Department’s budget struggles came to light in early February. In keeping with a plan Fire Chief Terry Garrison announced last month that called for trucks in areas with lower call […]

Firefighters union ratifies no-brownout agreement

Good. Members of the Houston firefighters’ union have signed off on a deal with Mayor Annise Parker that would prevent pulling firetrucks from service to help balance the Fire Department’s budget. “We’re very pleased that the union membership ratified the agreement,” Houston City Attorney David M. Feldman said in a statement released Friday. Now that […]

HFD union reaches a deal with the city to avoid “rolling brownouts”

From the Inbox: Houston Professional Fire Fighters Association (HPFFA) President Bryan Sky-Eagle joined Mayor Annise Parker this morning to announce a tentative agreement on an interim contract that will avoid the brown-outs of fire apparatus proposed earlier to solve an $8.5 million overtime shortfall at the Houston Fire Department. “I want to thank the union […]

Firefighters union sues city to block cutbacks

Not sure about this. Houston firefighters went to court Tuesday in an effort to block the city from removing personnel, trucks and ambulances from service. But a judge rejected their argument that the “rolling brownouts” plan violates the union’s collective bargaining agreement with the city. State District Judge Elaine Palmer turned down the request for […]

HFD’s budget problems

I’m sure you’ve heard of this by now. The safety of Houston’s citizens and its firefighters will be compromised over the next four months as the fire department limits the number of personnel on duty and removes trucks from service in an attempt to cut spending, Fire Chief Terry Garrison said Thursday. “People that are […]

City sues HFRRF again

From the inbox: In the face of growing concern about its ability to meet long-term retiree pension obligations, the City of Houston filed a lawsuit today against the Houston Firefighters’ Relief and Retirement Fund (HFRRF), one of three pension systems covering City employees. The lawsuit seeks to enable the City to have the same input […]

Endorsement watch: For Calvert

The Chron’s second endorsement on Friday, and what should be their last for the regular election, was for Rogene Calvert in At Large #3. Experience is valuable on Houston City Council. Council members often spend their first two-year term learning the basics of job: Figuring out who the players are, learning how various departments and […]

A deeper look at the city’s pension funds

I appreciate this just-the-facts analysis of the city’s pension funds. It’s delightfully free of fearmongering and doomsaying, which tend to cloud most stories on the funds. I don’t have anything specific to say about the article, but I do want to make a few general points about the city’s pension situation. 1. I reject the […]

We must destroy the pensions in order to save them

There’s so much wrong with this I almost don’t know where to begin. Houston is the Titanic – it certainly looks impressive, but icebergs lie ahead. That’s the image that mayoral candidate Ben Hall drew when he talked to the Houston Chronicle editorial board last week. No debate here. Like an iceberg on the horizon, […]

Hall and the firefighters

Ben Hall has the support of the firefighters’ union. He has also criticized Mayor Parker for not doing enough to deal with the financial stability of the pension funds. How does he reconcile these two seemingly contradictory positions? Not surprisingly, he’s light on the details. The fire union’s endorsement puts Hall in a political pickle. […]

The Chronicle is very disappointed in you, Houston delegation

Here they are throwing a hissy fit to express their deep sense of disappointment. Just shy of 6,000 bills were filed in the Texas Legislature prior to last week’s deadline. Nearly half of those came in the usual blizzard of filing activity 72 hours prior to the Friday, March 8, witching hour. Some of these […]

City pension funds make their case

This deserves more visibility than it’s gotten. Representatives of Houston’s three employee pension boards told a Houston City Council committee Monday that the sky is not falling and pleaded with council members to be patient in examining the city’s pension obligations. The presentations from the firefighters’ pension, the municipal employees’ pension and the police pension […]

Interview with Todd Clark and Chris Gonzales of the firefighters’ pension fund

I have written numerous times about the ongoing battle between Mayor Parker and the Houston Firefighter’s Relief and Retirement Fund, which is to say the firefighters’ pension fund. After I noted a legal victory by the city in its attempt to get more information from the fund, I was contacted by a representative of the […]

City wins access to firefighter pension information

From the Inbox, late Friday afternoon. Mayor Annise Parker today announced Judge William Burke of the 189th District Court of Harris County has mandated the Houston Firefighters’ Relief and Retirement Fund (HFRRF) Board to provide and disclose information requested by the independent actuary retained by the City of Houston. HFRRF has refused to provide data […]

Council approves funding for sobering center

Good. City Council agreed Wednesday to spend $4.3 million to outfit a warehouse at Star of Hope Mission and $353,000 a year to operate it as a place to take drunks instead of jail. City officials expect the 84-bed facility to open later this year and justified the expense on the hope that it will […]

Here comes the pension fight

Not looking forward to it. A day of reckoning has arrived in Houston, the city’s financial stewards say, to choose between pensions and pothole repairs. Days after voters in two California cities curbed public employee retirement benefits and voters in Wisconsin rejected an effort to recall a governor who required state workers to pay more […]

City sues firefighter pension board

We knew this was coming. The city of Houston sued the firefighters pension board in state District Court on Wednesday in an effort to pry open the retirement system’s books for a look at supporting data behind the $61 million annual bill it sends to City Hall. “We need access to this very basic information […]

If you can’t specify it, it’s not wasteful

After reading this op-ed by Todd Clark, the chair of the Houston Firefighters’ Relief and Retirement Fund (that is, their pension fund), I have decided to adopt two rules for all future discussion of the city’s budget. Let me speak briefly about the city’s Long Range Financial Management Task Force. This advisory committee could have […]

It’s always easier to talk in the abstract

I have three things to say about this. The city of Houston has been papering over multimillion-dollar budget deficits for nine years by borrowing money, tapping its rainy day fund, selling buildings and just plain putting off bills to the future, according to city finance officials. [...] This year, Mayor Annise Parker has pledged not […]

A bit of perspective on pensions

Mayor Parker and current members of Council will receive pensions from the city some day. They also will some day vote on what steps the city should take to deal with the pension system. Is that a problem? “Whenever you’re an elected official, there’s not an easy way around it,” agreed Josh McGee, vice president […]

Interview with Fernando Herrera

For what I really do think will be my final interview with a candidate for municipal office, I bring you Fernando Herrera, who was the first declared opponent for Mayor Annise Parker. Herrera is a Deputy Chief with the Houston Fire Department, having graduated the Fire Academy in 1981. He is also a businessman, the […]

HFD ratifies deal with city

It was a close vote, but the deal they reached in March was ratified. Union members passed the contract by a 1,560 to 1,391 vote. The deal saves 236 firefighters from layoffs in 2012, but concessions include a two-year pay freeze and a 1 percent raise in 2014. Also under the agreement, the firefighters who […]

The Mayor and the firefighters

Despite the tone of this, I wouldn’t make too much of it. While looking for tens of millions of dollars through a combination of cuts, deferrals, savings and fee hikes, Mayor Annise Parker repeatedly has identified the Houston Fire Department as one of the largest of budget bogeymen. Whether describing an intransigent pension board, a […]

The city’s 2012 budget

Cuts, deferred payments, and more cuts. Mayor Annise Parker, facing what she described as the toughest fiscal environment in more than 20 years, on Thursday proposed a $1.8 billion budget that calls for laying off 747 employees, closing pools and community centers and slashing other programs. The budget eliminates city-funded sports leagues, reduces library hours […]

Firefighters avoid layoffs

The city and the firefighters’ union reach an agreement on the deadline for sending layoff notices to cut HFD’s budget by $17.7 million but not require any layoffs. The agreement’s components include program cuts and fees for services that are currently free such as plan checks for new construction. But the largest chunk of the […]

More city layoffs

How high will it get? More than 600 city employees have received layoff notices this month as the city sheds payroll in a budget crisis. The count is mounting daily as city leaders orchestrate a department-by-department approach to telling their employees that they no longer will have jobs come July 1. Wednesday afternoon, back when […]

The State of the City 2011

It’s getting a little better, but we’re still not close to being in good times. The city of Houston’s budget deficit for the coming fiscal year has been whittled to roughly $80 million from $130 million, Mayor Annise Parker said after her annual State of the City address on Friday. Parker, speaking at a Greater […]

Do we have an opponent yet for the Mayor?

Probably not. Houston Fire Department Deputy Chief Fernando Herrera has filed papers appointing a treasurer for a mayoral campaign fund-raising committee. He was the Republican candidate for District 148 state representative in 2010. He lost to incumbent Jessica Farrar. However, Herrera said today he’s 95 percent sure he won’t run for mayor. “It’s a difficult […]

Mayor seeks pension fund cuts

Given the size of the budget shortfall for next year and the amount that the city pays into the various pension funds, Mayor Parker’s proposal to pay less should not be a surprise to anyone. City Attorney David Feldman and Finance Director Kelly Dowe already have asked firefighter pension executives to accept $14 million less […]

HFD news

Couple of big stories relating to the Houston Fire Department in the news this week. First, the EEOC makes a ruling: The Houston Fire Department’s failure to properly address discrimination complaints by a female firefighter and subsequent retaliation subjected her to a “hostile work environment” based on her gender, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has […]

The pension problem

I don’t know enough about the particulars of the city’s pension problems to be able to sort out the competing claims made in this story. I do know that the current system is not sustainable, and that the fight to make changes in it will be long and nasty. I know some folks would like […]

Some Prop 3 action

Campos observed last week that there hasn’t been any action on Prop 3, which is the red light camera referendum. That’s about to change. The Houston Professional Firefighters Association, a group that represents more than 4,000 firefighters, said it supports red-light cameras. President Jeff Caynon is urging Houstonians to vote for Proposition 3 on Election […]

Still focusing on overtime

Mayor Annise Parker talks again about trying to control HPD and HFD overtime costs as a way of bridging the city’s budget shortfall. Mayor Annise Parker provided an early picture of how she intends to close a $140 million budget gap to City Council Wednesday, indicating she will steer the city away from layoffs and […]