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Cave in or get the boot. That was the message Dominick Barbera, incoming president of the county firefighters' union, sent Miami-Dade Fire Rescue Chief Herminio Lorenzo. Only problem is the union doesn't own the building that houses Lorenzo's digs.
The idle eviction threat came in an audaciously snarky letter Barbera sent Lorenzo on December 9 mocking the chief's proposal to require all county firefighters to report traffic citations, arrests, and involvement in criminal actions.
"If it was your intention to deliver this as an early Christmas present, I must respectfully decline your generous gift as its cost far exceeds what our employees are permitted to accept in accordance with our county's gift policy," Barbera wrote.
The union official accused Lorenzo of drafting the new rule to "justify the legion of police officers assigned to the fire department's internal affairs bureau." Barbera closed his letter with a warning: If Lorenzo continues "the harassment, intimidation, and threats against [union] members," the fire union will kick the county fire department out of its Doral headquarters.
Barbera, who did not reply to three messages left on the union's voicemail, mistakenly claims the building is owned by the fire union. Property records list the county as the owner.
Riptide wonders if Barbera doesn't want firefighters to be held accountable. Seems he'd rather keep a lid on any scandals involving the rank-and-file.
"He doesn't like that he can't get away with anything anymore like he did in the past," says Miami-Dade Fire Rescue spokeswoman Elizabeth Calzadilla-Fiallo. "We tried policing ourselves, and it didn't work. We have to be held accountable to the taxpayers."
But several firefighters say the money used for the IA unit should be spent on funding for more firefighters. "The cost of the internal affairs office is completely unnecessary," says an anonymous firefighter. "Instead, we are shutting down a fire station in Key Biscayne and the motorcycle emergency response team."