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Posts Tagged ‘HFD’

Ambulances and ERs

Very interesting story about the overuse of ambulances in Houston and how the city is trying to deal with it. But in truth little works in a system that has been broken for years. Over the past generation, patients began to see emergency rooms as doctor’s offices, taking ambulances to get there. It’s the most […]

The Memphis pension cutting experience

In discussions about Houston’s pension liabilities, the city of Detroit is often trotted out as an analogy and cautionary tale. There’s another city that may be a more accurate comparison, and it’s offering an illustration right now of what might happen if things proceed as many candidates for local office and the Houston Chronicle would […]

Police officers’ pension fund speaks up

The firefighters’ pension fund is the one that gets all the attention, but it’s not the only one the city is responsible for. The Houston Police Officers Pension System (HPOPS) has sent a letter to the city reminding it that they have a deal that restricts what the city can request from the Legislature. Police […]

Council’s pension meeting

It was about what you’d expect. Many City Council members who attended a special meeting Friday to discuss Mayor Annise Parker’s controversial deal with the city’s firefighters pension called the gathering a success, despite two members walking out and breaking a quorum before a vote could be held to support or oppose the agreement. The […]

Council meeting called to discuss firefighter pension deal

Some Council members are determined to discuss the deal Mayor Parker made with the firefighters’ pension fund. Four City Council members have taken advantage of a rarely used provision in city law to call a special meeting Friday to discuss Mayor Annise Parker’s controversial deal with the city’s firefighter pension board that was announced last […]

King makes his official entry

Add Bill King to the “made his official announcement” list. In the middle of a noisy, torn-up west Houston street that he said epitomized Houston’s crumbling roads, Bill King launched his campaign for mayor Monday morning, pledging to return the city “back to basics.” King, a former Houston Chronicle columnist and a mayor of Kemah, […]

2015 Mayoral manifesto: Public safety

Preliminaries Transportation When I first started thinking about this series a couple of months ago, this section was all going to be about the budget. We’ve covered this ground before – public safety is about 65% of the total city budget, yet it’s always “off limits” for consideration when there are shortfalls. It’s always the […]

Appeals court reverses ruling about pension retiree information

So much for that. A state district court’s 2013 ruling that Houston’s fire pension board must turn over detailed information on its retirees to help city officials better project future pension bills has been overturned on appeal. Justices with the 1st Court of Appeals issued the opinion Tuesday, arguing that, in essence, state law protects […]

Don’t look for a meet-and-confer bill in the Lege this year

Buried in this story about the city and the county preparing to play defense during the legislative session is this update on the state of relations between the city and the firefighters. In her first two sessions, Houston Mayor Annise Parker failed to gain traction with legislation that would grant the city meet-and-confer powers that […]

Firefighter pension board makes an offer to the city

This was unexpected. The trustees of Houston’s firefighter pension, who for years have fought the mere mention of changes to benefits as Houston’s enormous pension burden has continued to grow, now are shopping a compromise proposal. Fire pension leaders say they simply are trying to save the city money as it approaches several years of […]

Parker proposes new firefighter pension plan

We’ll see about this. With the city of Houston facing huge and rising pension costs, Mayor Annise Parker on Thursday unveiled a proposal to put new firefighters in a separate, less generous plan that would do away with expensive automatic cost-of-living adjustments. The move would not affect current firefighters covered by the Houston Firefighters Relief […]

At an impasse

Doesn’t look like there will be any new collective bargaining agreement between the city and the firefighters this year. Houston’s firefighters union declared an impasse with the city over a new labor contract, which a union negotiator called a “slap in the face” on Thursday. The deadlock comes less than a month after Mayor Annise […]

Back to the drawing board for the city and the firefighters’ union

Don’t expect much at this point. Negotiators for the city of Houston and its firefighters union will return to the bargaining table to discuss a new labor contract weeks after union members soundly defeated the last proposed deal, Mayor Annise Parker announced Wednesday. The mayor and Houston Professional Fire Fighters Association Local 341 president Bryan […]

City exploring new pension for new firefighters?

Maybe. Long concerned about the cost of Houston’s pensions and stymied in her attempts at reform, Mayor Annise Parker is considering a dramatic step to place new firefighters into a separate, less generous pension plan, sources with knowledge of the discussions said. Officials acknowledge the existing Houston Firefighters Relief and Retirement Fund likely would sue […]

Firefighters union rejects contract deal

Oops. The contract rejected Tuesday by 93 percent of the roughly 2,900 firefighters voting would have taken a similar approach, granting a pay raise in exchange for concessions on members’ ability to take leave. With the no vote, as of July 1 members of Houston Professional Fire Fighters Association Local 341 enter an “evergreen” period […]

City reaches contract agreement with firefighters

Give a little, get a little. Houston firefighters would give up some of their ability to schedule time off in return for a pay hike under a tentative new labor contract that city officials hope will enable them to rein in overtime costs that threatened to bust the fire department’s budget this year. The City […]

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 […]