Call the Tune: Union makes poor choice in selection of messenger

By Mike Anthony

By Mike Anthony

We have to admit we were surprised to see an International Association of Fire Fighters official present negotiation proposals to the Mehlville Fire Protection District Board of Directors last week on behalf of union employees.

That official was Mark Woolbright, a captain with the Pattonville Fire Protection District and 2nd District vice president of the IAFF. That’s really surprising because Mr. Woolbright hasn’t exactly been an advocate for Mehlville residents.

When Rep. Walt Bivins, R-Oakville, introduced legislation last year that sought to give the MFPD board the legal authority to place a tax-rate decrease measure before voters, three people testified against that proposal during a hearing before the Local Government Committee of the Missouri House.

Mr. Woolbright, then serving as legislative affairs director of the Missouri State Council of Fire Fighters, was one of the three who testified against Rep. Bivins’ legislation.

Despite Mr. Woolbright’s efforts and the efforts of the Missouri State Council of Fire Fighters to block legislation permitting tax-rate-decrease measures to be placed on the ballot, MFPD residents overwhelmingly approved two such proposals in April.

Mr. Woolbright also is the same IAFF official who issued a news release last December criticizing MFPD Board of Directors Chairman Aaron Hilmer for comments Mr. Hilmer made after a Mehlville firefighter then serving as Local 1889 vice president was arrested on federal murder-for-hire charges.

Mr. Woolbright’s release referred to “unenlightened, self-serving comments” made by Mr. Hilmer.

“… Those remarks are offensive to the law-abiding firefighters of the Mehlville Fire Protection District, and only serve to erode the confidence the citizens of the district have in their first responders,” Mr. Woolbright stated in the release. “While Mr. Hilmer has made remarks to a number of reporters, he has prohibited employees of the Mehlville Fire Protection District from discussing the issue with the media.”

At the time, Mr. Hilmer told the Call the allegation he had prohibited district employees from discussing the issue with the media was “absolutely untrue.”

Despite Local 1889’s poor choice of a messenger, we hope the MFPD board will give the union’s negotiation proposals all the consideration they deserve.