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Jeff Branscome writes about Spotsylvania County.

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Update on the training records

Last weekend, we ran a story saying that the county was waiting for volunteer training records. I just wanted to let you know that Spotsylvania now has those records. They are now being compiled. The next step will be a list of what training is still needed in order to meet the new minimum standards. These are standards which were approved last year by the Fire and EMS Commission. The deadline for meeting the standards is Jan. 1, 2013. County officials have said the deadline is feasible but wanted a comprehensive list of the training already completed in order to map out a plan to have every willing emergency worker trained by the deadline.

Permalink: http://news.fredericksburg.com/spotsygovt/2011/02/18/update-on-the-training-records/

  • Beacon1964

    It would be interesting to know how many volunteers are there that currently do not meet the basic standards or there training is out of date but they are still volunteering and still being put on units.

    Maybe though it would be better if we did not know those numbers.

  • http://MAVRICKinc7@msn.com Martin (Marty) Work

    Making informed decisions needs details, whether they be good, bad or just ugly. The citizen population of Spotsylvania County have a real need to know where they stand when someone shows up to protect their interest under safety standards the public has a right to know about BEFORE the roof caves in.

    Not knowing or even wanting know serves only to underwrite the same Fire and Rescue bussiness ethic and protocols that the County elected to reject 11 years ago.

    So, what harm could there be in knowing whether County Fire and Rescue measures up to 21st century standards, or not and how best to bring F&R to standard through their current management leaders.

  • http://UmqaoU GIVEMEABREAK2M

    Mr. Work your comments fail to have much merit. If you had taken the time to do just a little research you would have discovered that many of the recomendations suggested 11 years ago have been implemented. Get the facts, and then start talking with some knowledge, please. The citizens deserve the truth.

  • Steve T.

    I would suspect that at a minimum, every vol fireman has FF 1 and 2 (Yes, I did see the original training tally sheet about a year ago). It’s beyond that where there may be some requirements- but unless they offer classes on nights and weekends- which they have not yet, in the amounts needed- I don’t see this arrangement working well.

    Telling vols they have to go to other parts of the state on their own dime to take classes because the ones here in Spotsy are during the day and already filled is not a workable solution.

  • isthathowitworks

    Mr. Thomas
    You need to figure out the real story and stop perpetuating lies. Your comments about training classes and their availability are clearly coming from your friends in the SVFD…I don’t see what you’re saying as any more valid than the information the Nazi leadership gave to their propaganda department. Have you looked at training records? Have you looked at the training announcements? Have you called the training department over at the county? Have you considered the whole picture or just 10% of it? I bet you’d get a much better understanding of everything if you were to do so rather than being a puppet.
    Instead, I imagine you will continue to enjoy willfull ignorance so that you can continue to make your case regardless of the facts.

  • Steve T.

    Very brave of you to come on and trash me… Without having the integrity to give your name.

    Look, I don’t care if you disagree with me, that’s the point of having a free country, but at least have the guts to give your real name and refrain from insults (Nazi? Really? Is that the best you can do?). Anything else is poultry feces.

  • http://MAVRICKinc7@msn.com Martin (Marty) Work

    GIVEMEABREAK2M: I’m reading from recorded history, so what version of the TRUTH are you referring to? My research says the reccommendations of 11 years ago were not emplimented until 2010 or 10 years later and after the fact, and remain as allusive and accountable today as they were 11 years ago.

    If that were not the truth, we wouldn’t be having this public exchange and you wouldn’t be cause to defend yourself under cover of a pseudonym and your anonymous calling card.

    As one of the County’s elected officials, I would have thought you would be more open with your ID and accountability for what you claim to be the truth. How will any of us ever know the difference between your version of the truth and what amounts to a soundbite that comes with no support or justification.

    How many pitts will we have to dig up, before you are found out and which history book you are reading from?

    ISTHATHOWITWORKS: If you are claiming to have looked at Training Records, Announcements, and called over to the F&R Training Department for their version of accountability, why did it take over a year for F&R to produce these records for appropriate reviews and assessment?

    If you are holding on to the other 90% of the F&R picture, why is it, once agin from cover, YOU can’t fill in the blanks of what’s what with F&R and elaborate on what you consider the other 10% of the same equation.

    Just pointing and wiggling your finger in the air does NOT make you any more credible than the shadow you cast from behind your own propaganda.

    Nazi propaganda was born of the LIE, repeated over and over again until a nation subjugated itself to a LIE and regretted it for the rest of their lives.

    What’s so amazing TODAY, as it has been for centuries, is how comfortable people, on both sides of the LIE are made to feel when they stop listening, looking or speaking to the nature and consequences of the LIE.

    Since you maintain ownership of 90% of the LIE, what difference would it make to you to voice concern over 10% of a LIE, that lacks credibility from the start, for want of a NAME?

  • Steve T.

    Marty- I actually looked at the training records a year ago. The main issue was certifications that were not in our hands because we have some pros in other places that volunteer here- so their records are in their place of employ. It does take a fair amount of time to call around and secure all those- keep in mind, the county did not dedicate any staff time to this, it was done by volunteer administrators.

  • tfyreman

    As a former senior officer with Chancellor Volunteer Fire Rescue, it is my opinion the word ‘Rescue’ should be replaced by the word ‘Revenue’. We never had these problems as Chancellor Volunteer Fire Department. However, after Kevin Dillard and John Brandrup among others led the charge to break off a piece of Fredericksburg Rescue Squad and roll it into Chancellor in 2003, the operation seems to have been about money ever since.

    A General Order issued in March 2008 by then president – Jim LaClare, signed off on by chief’s and board members alike, calls for the suspension of any member who fails to report for their bingo duty. However, missing one or more rescue duty shifts rarely result in any disciplinary action of any sort. At a time when the rescue side is begging for members to staff, bingo suspensions continue. What is the priority at CVFR?

    The fire side never has a staffing problem, but group emails go out to the rescue side almost daily begging members to staff the stations. Names are even forcibly placed on EMS Manager just to appear as if members are staffing when the county dispatch know exactly what stations are not fully staffed. Several CVFR rescue members have not passed the state EMT-B test and therefore cannot perform as Attendant-In-Charge. If a rescue station does not have a driver AND an EMT-B AIC, as per VA Code Department of Health regulations, that station is not fully staffed as a rescue unit regardless of how many names appear in EMS Manager.

    By SOP, on the fire side, Firefighter Level 1 is required among other certifications to operate any fire apparatus. Yet, on the rescue side, there are several ambulance operators who only hold CPR and are not even required to be EMT Basics. With non-EMT drivers and non-AIC EMT’s, is professional competence for citizens of this county even a passing thought? Do you know who is showing up to YOUR medical emergency?

    It is very clear, in my opinion, the upper echelon of CVFR, by standard policy and current actions, hold bingo revenue and fringe benefits in much higher regard than rescue capability. A repeat of a Spotswood Furnace type incident is certainly possible. Until the BOS and County Admin display the intestinal fortitude to place the welfare of their citizens over the financial interests of the few, these problems will continue to exacerbate.

  • Mailman

    Mr Steve T.

    If someone works in another locality, they should not be able to volunteer here without supplying the agency with a copy of his or her certifications—-how hard is that?

    This whole excuse that “Well, we have 50 people who work over in King George and volunteer here so we are having a helluva time getting any certifications” could EASILY be fixed by not letting anyone volunteer without supplying this record and all other records required to show training is being kept up to date.

    This is a non issue that requires management and there is no real management in volunteer agencies. In today’s world, this is a very, very dangerous problem because they now get quite a few million dollars in taxpayer revenue to run operations, or do whatever they want to do, which in some cases means stocking up a station room with the best video games, couches, televisions and games.

    I think while this mess over training is being righted, the county also needs to track the MONEY that these departments get and end the policy of “You can do what you want with the money you get from taxpayers.”

    I want a little more accountability over the cash.

    Can the FLS please do an article that goes in depth into where the volunteer agencies spend their money, and get serious proof. Don’t just ask and be told. I want records to show where the money is going and I would enjoy reading the story.

    I hope and beg the story says the money goes to training, equipment, and keeping stations up to date. However, I have this scary feeling the records will show that a little too much fun stuff is costing more than we think.

    I personally have walked into one station owned by CVF when I considered volunteering and I was shown a room with a huge nice television, several game units, and a bunch of other stuff that I never knew existed in fire stations. I didn’t mind it so much back then, but now it makes me think.

    I’ve seen a ton of attacking aimed at this newspaper and the reports and the reporters. When I see that, usually it means they hit the jackpot. Good job Amy for staying on top of this very important issue.

  • Mailman

    Suspending a volunteer over BINGO DUTY?

    BINGO DUTY?

    Chancellor VFRD must answer these claims immediately. Is this true? And if it is, it must be corrected tomorrow!

  • Mailman

    IS there a General Order for missing covering a station and what happens, sir?

  • Taxman0415

    I cannot speak to the certification issues or lack thereof. However, to address a small part of the concern of tfyreman and mailman that I share also. IF Chancellor Volunteer Fire Rescue is incorporated as a 501c non-profit charitable organization as they claim to be, then by law, their financial information MUST be made public on request.

    If ANYONE requests CVFR’s IRS Form 1023, then by federal law, CVFR must provide this and it will outline the justification they told the IRS to become a tax exempt entity and that can easily be compared to the mission they attempt to fulfill today. If ANYONE requests CVFR’s IRS Form 990, then by federal law, CVFR must provide this and it will outline the annual tax returns of the organization depicting all donations, taxpayer funds and other income sources as well as all expenditures. If CVFR is in fact a tax exempt 501 c organization, then they are required to have their financial statements audited by an independent auditor. A demand for this documentation will quickly reveal if CVFR is in keeping with its original founding as told to the IRS as well as it current assets and liabilities, too include residual funds left in the treasury.

    I also am very concerned at the tremendous amount of county taxpayer resources given over to CVFR when the vast majority of its operating costs (vehicle fuel, maintenance, fire equipment, EMS supplies, utilities, buildings etc.) are already paid for due to daytime career staffing. It is well known that CVFR offers bingo nearly every Saturday night so the question is where does this money go? If CVFR is a 501 c org as they claim, then the public has a federal right to know.

    It is a matter of concern when the names of Kevin Dillard and John Brandrup repeatedly surface under possible shady circumstances. It is well known these two were at Fredericksburg Rescue Squad together and were instrumental in the founding of CVFR. Both men occupy leadership roles in the REMS council, the county Fire/EMS commission, CVFR and although Mr. Dillard is an owner of LifeCare, Mr Brandrup is also employed there as well. You will never find one very far from the other. Mr. Brandrup’s sexual indiscretions are widely known throughout the county as well as Mr. Dillard’s intense control and influence over county affairs.

    I have heard it said before that where there is smoke, there is often fire. I would simply say just follow the money trail. If financial impropriety exists in the affairs of Laurel, Hardy and CVFR, a thorough and genuine investigation would certainly reveal this. Maybe this could be the reason the county seems impotent to reign in it’s out of control tax exempt organizations. They may know exactly where this trail could lead, however, that is only a matter of opinion.

  • opiniontoshare

    Are the alleged big-screen TVs and games being used as recruiting tools to get paid and/or volunteer firefighters to work at Spotsylvania’s stations, giving them something to do in between calls?

  • Mailman

    Opinionstoshare,

    I honestly didn’t care about the games and TVs and I am sure it helps time pass when there are no calls. In all actuality, I would say the vols deserve things like that in a station mess hall so serving is still fun when there are no calls. But I still want to know how much it all cost and where the rest of the money goes.

    I pulled their tax records online and there are no expenditures that I saw anywhere on any form. But I may not have had the correct document.

    What I am more concerned about is with this Kevin Dillard guy who owns LifeCare and employs numerous volunteers. The county pays for all training for volunteers. This provides Mr. Dillard with already trained people for his business, so he is capitalizing on this county training. I do not think that should be allowed. He is using the system for his own financial benefit. That bothers me a little more than the playstations and HD televisions.

    I’ve followed all of the stories about the Feb. 5 fire to now, and I am very thankful that the press found out and reported these problems to us. I cannot thank them enough.

    Finally, the county might be improving the system but training isn’t all that needs to be reviewed. Finances need to be reviewed and the Board of Supervisors may want to put some rules into how the volunteer agencies can spend the money they get from taxpayers. The money should be used to buy new equipment, improve living quarters, and even some fun things to help with retention such as the TVs and game units.

    But my supervisor told me that there are no controls over how they spend the money, and it adds up to several million. After all of the stuff that has been reported since Feb. 5–from senseless deaths to sexual harassment–I think the public has every right to be concerned, to demand answers and to get them.

    They have no one to blame but themselves for running a public safety agency with poor record-keeping, training levels and resource management, which includes staffing stations.

    I’ve been also disgusted with the backlash against the newspaper, the threatening or harassing tone and the excuses that have come as a result of the newspaper’s solid reporting.

    My fingers are crossed

  • opiniontoshare

    In my mind, whether Mr. Dillard’s hiring of trained volunteers is inappropriate or not hinges upon whether it is common practice for other private ambulance companies to pay the cost of training their employees, or if they also hire already-trained personnel. Do these other companies expect new hires to already have their certifications or do they hire untrained personnel with the intent to train them?

  • Sammy W

    Wow, this stuff just never goes away does it?

    Should we really be worrying that firehouses have big screen TV’s and perks to attempt a creature comfort environment? At some point someone will complain ‘they have A/C in the summer and heat in the winter!’
    It’s fighting a battle that has no winner and the only loser will be those whom dedicate countless hours away from family and friends.

    The real issue is the accountability of the Volunteers. Who was it earlier and said(lemme scroll back) ah yes. Steve T…
    ” Telling vols they have to go to other parts of the state on their own dime to take classes because the ones here in Spotsy are during the day and already filled is not a workable solution. ”

    Bravo Steve..bravo!. Ok, so in this statement I see my teenage daughter whinning that Colleges aren’t coming to her. She actually has to…APPLY HERSELF and go to them…on time, etc etc. And secondly, it’s a distorted lie. Steve the offerings were made to volunteers and there was lackluster interest. That is the truth.
    Do you expect to be treated differently than anyone else in the world because the Board of Supervisors are pleading with you to get in line with the rest of the world… or else!???

    Finally, there is no issue with Kevin Dillard havesting EMT’s and Paramedics from with-in. That’s a private company and can conduct itself as such. It’s a common industry practice and this is also a right to work state. Sorry.

  • Jacob V

    On the Lifecare vs. Kevin Dillard vs. CVFR issue. Sammy W is right, it’s legal for Dillard to recruit employees from within CVFR and to encourage his employees to volunteer with CVFR (if they don’t already). What creates a conflict of interest, is when he is able to rely on the County/CVFR’s budget to provide continuing education and additional training to his ‘volunteers’ when the primary benefit is really his company. When he is able to use the county’s funds to send an EMT-Basic through EMT-Intermediate or Paramedic school, that’s where the conflict arises. Sure, they’ll benefit the citizens and CVFR a little but they’re going to help Lifecare out a whole lot more and he got it all for free. That’s where the conflict of interest lies.

  • truthinposting

    Truth in writing always the best policy, tfyreman. Word is that you quit your officer post after 7 days in office because a FIRE crew would not leave an overstaffed station upon your order to staff an unstaffed FIRE station. Grudges are one thing; slanted postings another. What’s the truth?

  • Steve T.

    Wow, I just realized that in a 19 post thread only me, Marty and Jacob (I assume) used our real names. No wonder there is so much misinformation and mudslinging go on throught this issue.

    Here’s what I know.

    We now have the highest training standards in Virginia for Volunteers, and highest outside Fairfax for any FFs. AND 3rd highest in the whole country. There is a lot of unneeded stuff in those standards- but then, unnecessary regulation is kind of a hallmark of government, isn’t it?

    How high are they? I have heard (haven’t seen for myself, and I caveat this) they are so high 1/3 of the career FFs in Spotsy can’t meet them yet- and they get paid to take classes when they are not running calls. AND their stations count as staffed when that is the case! To be clear, I don’t have a problem with this- our career folks do a great job too. But they should be accounted for the same way.

    Just for the record, Fairfax also has the highest taxes in the Commonwealth and some of the highest in the country.

    Mailman- when training is your job, sure I agree with you. Your daughter’s occupation will be student, thus going to other colleges makes sense. But when the county passes this mass of expensive, unnecessary regulation on the 300 best citizens in the county (better than you, me or anyone else on this board btw) and says to some, you go pay for it and spend 5 nights a week taking classes, many of which you must travel to in other localities and spend more time away from family… what does that say?

    Says the County Admin doesn’t know what they are doing, or knows and is trying intentionally to berid the County of its native-born heroes.

    Volunteers run 70% of the calls nationwide, at a savings of over $1.8 billion to the taxpayers each month. Do things go wrong on some calls? Sure, because when you deal with fires, crashes and related disasters not everything will always go right.

    None of us is God and none of us can guarantee an outcome, any more than teachers can guarantee every student will grow up trouble-free and productive. You go about your business professionally and do your best.

    All this is aside from the fact that attacking the most unselfish and brave citizens among us is about the least Christian and most cowardly thing I have ever seen- which is Spotsylvania politics, speaks volumes.

  • Sammy W

    Steve T.
    Again you spew your rubbish preying on the unknown. That is how your political party has existed all these years.
    Great attempt.
    My how you have a narrow view of the world.
    Aside from Fairfax’s standard….
    -Loudoun County
    -Prince William
    -Alexandria
    -Arlington
    -Manassas City …and Park
    -Chesterfield
    -James City County
    -Virginia Beach
    -Newport News
    All their standards are higher or equvalent than this camp dude. Do your homework before you trust in your buddys.

    Oh and your stat “70% …Volunteers..” blah blah blah. Look Steve, nationwide there are many many more Volunteer departments than Career/Paid. It is the American way. No one is questioning that. However, when those places get overwhelmed and can’t handle or start mishandling incidents, the public will seek to have them replaced with an accountable system.By the way Career Departments run 100% of the calls when they are the only service. Just sayin, cause you seem to like stats (lies with numbers).

    And just for the record, Fairfax County is the highest population in the Commonwealth.

  • opiniontoshare

    Just my humble opinion, but if the county has decreed that volunteers and paid staff are to meet the same requirements, then the county has an obligation to provide volunteers with the same training opportunities given to the paid staff. That seems only fair to me.

  • Steve T.

    Well Sammy, we can agree to disagree- but thank you at least for using your real name.

    Most of those places you mention also still have Combination departments btw. Guess the union there hasn’t gotten greedy yet?

  • Bill Haas

    Here is an opinion from a lesser (according to ST) citizen.

    There are basically three sources for firefighter training funding: 1) the County (tax payers); 2) the Volunteer organizations; and 3) the firefighters themselves.

    Logic (I hope) would seem to dictate that a firefighter’s duty organization would be responsible for paying for the training of all it’s members.

    In the case of the Volunteer’s, we have seen lots of discussion about “their” money. Perhaps those in charge, ought to step up here and stop this nonsensical argument about who pays for what.

    NO FIREFIGHTER OR EM PERSONNEL should be expected to pay for their own training.

  • Steve T.

    Bill, those are good points. If you live in SVFD’s coverage area, and I think you do, you got a letter in the Fall that had info on how that group spent its money- almost all goes to equipment. That equipment gets shared, it’s good for everyone.

    Btw, I apologize for my poor choice of words in my last post- but I am concerned, after seeing WI over the last 2 weeks, about Spotsy becoming another Madison if we give too much power to any group- including unions. Just not good policy.

  • Sammy W

    Steve,

    Yes I carefully chose jurisdictions that had combination or dual systems. If I were to have included say…Henrico or Richmond you would have thrown the Baloney Flag right away. But you can’t now.
    Anyways, my point is looking through a narrow focus such as yours and your buddies can and will have devistating consequences. You must look around and see what the rest of the nation is doing.
    You seem to be defending the lazy stance ‘we are trained enough’ or ‘we have ideal top knotch training as it is’ (yes my words not yours, but it’s your stance, no?)
    Steve …et al,
    I emplore you to look at Charleston South Carolina. pre June 2007. Go ‘head just wiki it, humor me please.
    Ya see Steve, Charleston was the FDNY of South Carolina, they thought they could do no wrong. They had their Steve Thomases (actually their Rusty Thomases, now thats irony!) defending their narrow vision. Hell the mayor even backed them whole-heartedly.
    They never looked anywhere outside of Charleston period.
    It was that insultated-bubble that effectively killed 9 brave men. Is that what you want?. Keep training standards low so we can retain the deadwood? Or get with the rest of the nation and perhaps one day be a model for others to site.

  • Sammy W

    Steve, You’re right. Too much power to a union could be devistating economically to our county.I really don’t think that’ll happen in a Right To Work state .
    I ran from the North where the taxes were and are still intollerable (and thats the nicest word I could fathom). But too much power to the vollys is what you have now. And it’s clear to us, it needs an overhaul. A balance of power with one leader. Hey theres a novel idea. We can call him Fire Chief, and…I know then County Administrator Barnes doesn’t have to run the fractured Fire and Rescue Department. But thats another story!.

  • Steve T.

    Sammy, I wouldn’t necessarily disagree with you automatically. My defense is actually pretty broad- commitment to a quality combination system. That’s not a bad thing.

  • Bill Haas

    @Steve….

    Nope, although I do own property in their district, I think. I live in CVFD area.

    In addition, I have never seen a comprehensive accounting for revenue vs. disbursement for ANY of the volunteer companies in Spotsylvania. You know, one of those “line-by-line” financial things you and Mr. McGuire are always talking about. I know they are “non-profits,” but I fail to see why organizations that ask for donations should be allowed to “hide” their financials.

  • Sammy W

    Aw C’mon Steve
    Show some backbone, your fans deserve that!
    First you spew this preposterous rubbish “…We now have the highest training standards in Virginia for Volunteers, and highest outside Fairfax for any FFs. AND 3rd highest in the whole country. ”

    Who on Earth told you that Steve?? Go ‘head name names you like real names remember (cuts the mudslinging down) or did you just assume you could inflate a little here and a little there?.
    Ya know, if any of that were true…and it’s not…not even close, I’d be proud to say it, rather than looking for an EZ Pass and getting politicians that don’t know one iota about public safety and how we can stay status quo.

  • Taxman0415

    I am following this with great interest as tax day approaches and will happily provide insight from my profession. Many of you are expressing concern that Chancellor may be hiding their financial information when this would be in violation of federal tax law. I must ask why would they be doing this if they are on the up and up as a 501c public non-profit? It would seem if they refuse independently audited disclosures, they may be hiding some interesting financial irregularities.

    Understand that they do receive a great amount of public taxpayer support from the county government. By claiming 501 c non-profit charitable status it would seem they receive private tax deductible donations as well and it would seem they raise substantial income via their bingo.

    If any of you are truly concerned, ask Chancellor for their IRS Form 1023, latest IRS Form 990 and their last audited financial statements. If they refuse, stonewall or falsify their records, just report them to the IRS : http://www.irs.gov/individuals/article/0,,id=106778,00.html and you can be assured the IRS will be happy to straighten them out.

    If any county citizens donate anything to this organization and claim a tax deduction for your donation, you should be made aware that if they are found in non-compliance with IRS regulations, your donation may no longer be deductable. The IRS will look into their donor list and they may require you to amend your tax returns eliminating the previously claimed deductions. This may increase your tax liability or reduce your refund.

    Public charity means their records are to be open to the public. 501c’s are public non-profits. Refusing public disclosure usually means there is something to hide. It is your money and you have a federal right to know.

    It is a matter of concern when the same names of Mr. Dillard, Mr. Brandrup and Mr. Barnes continue showing up as administrative and financial overseers in other such organizations as the county Fire/EMS commission, REMS Council, Chancellor Rescue and any other entity they oversee and at least one such entity may not be forthright with their financial disclosures. It is also worth noting that all of the comments from the original story on 2/12/2011 have vanished. Who brought that pressure on FLS – Dillard, Brandup or Barnes? Again, why all the secrecy?

    To get to the truthful answers to most of everyone’s questions and concerns be it training standards, refusal of county oversight or financial improprieties, just follow the money trail. You may find out it leads where nobody would expect.

  • Sammy W

    In all my days, I never thought I would actually thank a Taxman. But, thank you sir!

  • Bill Haas

    Taxman….your last post was interesting and I agree about certain matters of concern.

    You point out that all comments on the 2/12/11 FLS story about “Fire Progress….” have vanished. I checked and you are correct, the comments are gone.

    In two other instances, the FLS blocked comments; this time regarding the SB vs, Blalock censure over email. The first was on Pamela Gould’s blog titled “Getting Schooled” on 2/22/11 and the other was Ms. Gould’s corresponding story published in the FLS on 2/23/11 titled “E-mails Posed……”.

    Again, was pressure brought and by whom?

    OR, has the Free Lance-Star decided to take on the role of the “protector of civil debate” in certain issues that become newsworthy?

    In BOTH instances, the issues being “censured” are public concerns, F&EMS and School Board actions, in organizations dependent upon tax revenue. As such, every citizen of Spotsylvania county has a perfect right to know about and express their feelings on such matters on any venue where those matters are publicly presented.

    It is my understanding that the FLS editorial staff recently grew concerned over the “level of public discourse” in the comments being posted on their on-line editions. They felt that too much of the content was uncivil because the posters were using pseudonyms. That drove the FLS, erroneously as it turned out, to use the Facebook venue where they apparently were told, or led to believe, that pseudonyms were not allowed or at least less likely.

    Since their Facebook move seems to not be working to their satisfaction; are they now simply using their own judgement about what issues the public is allowed to comment on? Has the Free Lance-Star, a member of the bastion of free speech, decided to limit our free speech?

  • LarryG

    It’s one thing to selectively remove inappropriate or abusive comments for cause but to block and/or remove all comments is something else and if it is a newspaper doing it…. the hypocrisy is dripping wet……

    I’ll point out that they HAVE let other threads run that in my view were heavy duty including the one on the GA abortion vote and the one on Nash Roofing….

    So.. it appears that their policy is not only a bit murky but it varies according to the thread …… interesting….

    I note that some other papers will, on a per comment basis, leave the date/time stamp of the comment, remove the content and say that they did so because it violated their policies.

    In Free Lance Star Land – that does not appear to be how things work.

  • Bill Haas

    Amen, Larry….

    If, on the other hand, the FLS is yielding to “pressure” and limiting discourse on “certain” subject material because of said pressure, they could be doubly guilty of limiting free speech and abusing their charter and should be censured by their peers in the news print business.

    Personally, I do not think this latter situation is in play because it is difficult for me to believe they would ever start down the very dangerous road of letting political pressure dictate their editorial policies. The day they did that they would cease being a news business and would become some sort of partisan political “rag.”

  • Taxman0415

    Based on many of the comments here, it seems as if there may be real issues going on, ones that may require serious public scrutiny. There is a definite triad of resurfacing personalities – Dillard, Brandrup, Barnes. There is also a triad of organizations linked to these personalities – Chancellor Rescue, LifeCare, FLS. Who is influencing who and why is suspiciously elusive for entities that have nothing to hide.

    You – the citizens of your county – have an administrator that presents himself to be impotent or unwilling to exercise the authority of his position for the betterment of the citizens of the county he represents opting instead for a path of least resistance. Why might this be? You have a president of a private company (LifeCare) that is closely affiliated with a public non-profit (Chancellor Rescue) and several councils/commissions (REMS, Spotsylvania Fire/EMS Commission, etc.) that affect public policy and who does not seem to hesitate to grab the media spotlight to control opinion, yet continues to resist any form of accountability. What is this man afraid of? The other personality has made his repeated sexual indiscretions a matter of public concern, however, still maintains membership, employment and prominence in said areas defying any logic or reason.

    I can only speak from experience and do not make this an accusation of fact. When those who affect public policy, have financial and administrative interests in public non-profits and who also are connected with private for-profit corporations, refuse public disclosure and accountability, there is often real and serious impropriety taking place on some level. Combine that with the selective tolerance for public opinion on the part of FLS and you have the makings for something that may run far deeper than anyone suspects.

    If you – the citizens of your county – suspect these matters deserve closer scrutiny, yet, believe that neither the county administration nor judicial operations are capable of impartial investigation and representation of the interests of their citizens, then you can make inquiry at higher levels:

    http://www.doa.virginia.gov/DSIA/Fraud_and_Abuse_Hotline.cfm

    State of Virginia Corporations Commission
    1300 East Main Street – Suite 800
    Richmond, VA 23218-0640
    Phone: 804-371-9705

    Office of the Attorney General
    Attorney General: Bob McDonnell
    900 East Main Street
    Richmond, VA 23219
    804-786-2071

    Virginia FBI Field Office
    White Collar Crime Supervisor
    http://richmond.fbi.gov/
    1970 E. Parham Rd.
    Richmond, VA 23228
    Phone: 804-261-1044

    http://www.irs.gov/individuals/article/0,,id=106778,00.html

    If watchdog reporting at FLS is being hindered and county officials fail in their fiduciary responsibilities of public trust, then it is up to you the taxpaying citizens to make the appropriate inquiries and hold the appropriate people accountable. Otherwise, you may be revisiting these issues time and time again and the only losers are the citizens themselves when the financial interests of the few mock the safety and welfare of the majority.

  • LarryG

    there’s a pretty bright line between getting rid of abusive/inappropriate comments and shutting down discussion and I’ve see some of this on some private blog sites and that is their prerogative because they are not proclaiming themselves as legitimate media.

    FLS has, as a legitimate news organization a different level of responsibility … and they will define who they are – by their practices.

    And I put myself with those who think FLS should support, embrace, fight for – free speech… as they do with FOIA requests many times…. and to refrain from doing what the “rag” blog sites and some govt seems to be inclined towards without FOIA.

    truly ironic, we are discussing a member of the “free press” in such a context.

    I think the good folks at FLS need to have an organizational sit down to work their way through free speech in the internet age and at the end of the process – have a conversation with their readers.

  • joan doe

    Wow, alot of back and forth here. but just my point of view here. Why do I have to have a heart attack between 440am -6pm to have the drugs that might possibly save my life arrive on scene with some one qualified to administer them them? yes the training to become a medic is long and tedious, and in todays economy not a lot of people have the time to commit to it. fortunately on the fire side of the fence if you put enough water on fire it it will go out. Everyone is crying about standards being to high and I say you can never have to high of standards when it comes to saving lives. as a concerned taxpayer when I dial 911, I should be guaranteed to get the resources needed to save my life , put out the fire, or cut me out of a car should I need it. . Grow some balls and make it happn . I drive by a fire station every day around 630 pm on the way home, and for at least the last month no cars were in the parking lot. makes me me feel safe ….not!!!!

  • http://MAVRICKinc7@msn.com Martin (Marty) Work

    It’s called “All In The Family” nurtured by the good ole boy’s who conduct business from behind closed doors. The FLS is a family member and has been so for many decades. It’s talent for reporting the news falls along the same lines you would find in mafia management circles and protocols from our past.

    “Keep your mouth shut and no squealing on family” members, family enterprises, governing principles or what we refer to as best business practices.

    That’s why the FLS has editor’s in chief who modify, modulate and minimize their story lines to sound bites and under the guise of “balanced reporting” they call news coverage, as long as the public doesn’t get too close to the whole story or serve to out or embarrass City and County officials (family), elected leaders (family) or their family constituents and special interest family members.

    Why is it Wanda Parrish (Planning) can’t provide the names and level of special interest members that serve on the County’s FOCUS GROUP, without minutes, and often described as “citizens” and “citizen participants” who conduct county business from behind closed door, without public attendance allowed?

    So why should any of us be allowed to research and inspect the business practices of Spotsylvania County in the light of day?

    TAXMAN rolled out his concerns in as much detail as any member of the PUBLIC is allowed. He’s not BEACON 1964, who would prefer not to know the details associated with County Fire/Rescue because the truth of the matter might prove to be embarrassing and make an already miserable circumstance even more surprisingly miserable than they are at this moment of public understanding and comprehension.

    Simply said, what has the FLS provided to its readers, other than pieces of the whole story, edited, so as not to give the store away, and keeping family as far away from public intervention or the truth as it possibly can.

    If you’ve been around for 20 or more years you can best understand where family entitlement begins and ends and where the truth becomes as “murky” as Larry Gross has described at this site and would have us believe.

    Simply said, the issue at hand is not as murky as “perceived.” In reality, the truth is just a stones throw away from asking a real hard question and not leaving the podium until a satisfactory ANSWER has been supplied.

    Spotsylvania County has had over a year to get its paperwork together and supply the citizens of Spotsylvania County with answers, instead of putting off the answers for ANOTHER 2 YEARS, to account for what progress has been made, within another 3 year period, when they (County and F&R) has had an 11 year head start on how to best protect its citizens from harm with appropriate management, supervisory and TRAINED personnel.

    Three years is a long time to wait for F&R personnel to come back and tell its citizens they REMAIN a work in progress with nothing more to show than what was available 10 years ago, but chose not to do anything about it THEN or NOW.

    It’s been made abundantly clear by FAMILY members that they are entitled to have F&R management be the same as it was 55 years ago and fully intend to hold on to every scrap of history they can apply to their history and emotional existence in the world of fire fighting, whether it comes with skills or credentials that the 21st century demands. It’s been made abundantly clear that FAMILY will dictate how F&R will proceed, even after their watch has proven to be unexceptible in our CURRENT F&R invironment. What is it about FAMILY that refuses to pass the future off to those who who will honor their past but move on to something better than what it is today?

    Unlike County Adsministrator Wheeler was in his day, Doug Barnes knows where the bodies have been buried for the past 30 years, and knows best how to pay his respect to the FAMILY in order to keep peace in the family and not give more than FAMILY will allow. Simply said, he is the designated hitter for F&R, County government and their elected officials, with or without the whole truth or nothing but the edited version of the truth.

  • Sammy W

    Joan,

    I agree. And I am willing to pay for a guaranteed response to my home. (And no CVFRD don’t send me another envelope…you can’t BS me. BTW, I’m the one that returns it with Monopoly money- in Dillard We Trust.)
    Anyways Joan. The scare tactics you will see and hear are based around politics. “How much are you willing to pay for that service Joan?”.
    Political buffoons will weigh in and tell you if we do pay people to provide more service, we’ll be Fairfax in two weeks time! (oh the humanity!!) The Union will control everything… the local home town heroes that are there (though your own eyes must be mistaken) will be spat on for a larger un-necessary Government.
    Joan, I’m with you, but what needs to happen is a reality check at the top. Fire Chief Barnes needs to take a good assessment of ;’exactly what does 24 hour staffing mean’ when Kevin and Mark tell him with their forked tongues. ‘Our units are staffed ’round the clock’

  • Taxman0415

    I am seeing a tremendous amount of TAXPAYING CITIZENS who are of like mind when it comes to the affairs of YOUR county government, Chancellor and FLS. I cannot emphasize enough that it is up to YOU the CITIZENS to act on your gut feelings. The answers you seek will most definitely be found in the money trail.

    The ‘mafia’ style secrecy described by (marty) and seemingly being led in tandem by a Mr Barnes and Mr Dillard among others in the FAMILY as described, and assisted by controlling interests of FLS , is your most valuable clue to possible egregious illegalities lurking just below the surface. Neither Spotsylvania County, Chancellor, FLS nor any of their actors have any bearing on my livelihood. I cannot create the treasure for you who are concerned, I can only help point you to it. I can only suggest that you use the means I have provided above as your starting point.

    Demand written financial accountability. Because of the enormous amount of control and influence this Dillard character has over YOUR county, it’s administrator, BOS and judicial affairs, I would start with Chancellor. By federal law any 501c must provide the documents I mentioned previously – all IRS Forms and AUDITED financial statements, Articles of Incorporation and the By-Laws. These are PUBLIC records. Document any instances of refusal, stonewalling or falsification. You can also obtain the corporate tax id number from the state corporate commission’s office and request these very documents yourself through the IRS if Chancellor refuses to comply with federal law.

    Your next line is to demand full budget disclosures from your County Government. By law, they must comply. Compare the two. If you still feel in your gut something is amiss, as many of you certainly seem to, then you are probably right. I would be very curious to see how public county taxpayer funds, mix with public Chancellor funds and how each of these fit in with Mr. Dillard’s private corporation LifeCare. I am also equally concerned why FLS feels a need to protect these actors and assist in obstructing accountability by censoring dissenting opinions.

    Submit these documents to the IRS for review using the link for reporting tax fraud. I can assure you that if there is probable cause, these matters will be looked at with intense scrutiny and all avenues of irregularities will be discovered. You can also make the appropriate inquiries at the state level and if you suspect instances of fraud, you may contact the FBI White Collar Crimes Division.

    It seems only a week ago that some fireman claiming to be from Chancellor spoke openly of it’s weighted interest in revenue over professionalism and a young lady also voiced her concerns regarding the Chancellor, Dillard and Brandrup triangle. Another gentleman voiced disdain over some apartments relating to Dillard as well as LifeCare. Now FLS has censored all of those comments obstructing your right to know. There always seem to be the same actors at the center of the swirl – Barnes, Dillard and Brandrup surrounding the same entities – Spotsylvania Government, Chancellor, LifeCare and now FLS.

    The closer you get to the truth, the more resistance, finger pointing and fabrication you will find. How much smoke does one need before they realize there may actually be fire? (Ironic given the nature of the original story). With the inordinate amount of excuses for NOT protecting the citizens of your county to the highest degree possible, while vehemently protecting the financial interests of a select few, has this question already been answered?

    Follow their money trail.

  • Sammy W

    Taxman, I have always questioned.

    They take donations (ok no big deal- spend it any way they want) but where I get confused as a…well…Non-Taxman is when they do the quick change and blend it with the taxpayers money. I mean I hardly have my degree yet, am terrible at math. You get the idea.
    Anyways, what venue would one use to request/demand this information. And further isn’t that what our Board of Supervisors gets paid to do??? -Look out for funny business and follow the money trail themselves?. Oh and what about the Fire and Rescue Commission. In a perfect world, it’s a check and balance. But I know, it’s nothing but a ruse of plants to give the illusion of harmony. HA!
    Sure I’ll be a hero and question every last nickle. Then what?

  • Taxman0415

    The following link to the pdf document has all the information you need to find your way through the smoke screen:

    http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/p4220.pdf

    Note pages 7 and 8 have particular information on reporting requirements.

  • joan doe

    Sammy, my life and my family and friends lives are priceless. Did I not help pay for 2 new fire trucks and a heavy rescue squad ? I didn’t know was buying show trucks . Big pretty fire trucks don’t do any good sitting in a firehouse unmanned if there is a fire or emergency . Properly trained people are needed to drive these fire trucks . If you really passionate about something you will do what you need to do to make it happen. doesn’t volunteering mean you do it for free? Why don’t they take the 250k plus per diem money that they have in the budget to pay ” volunteers” and use it for training . if you have time to volunteer then you also have time to attend the training that is required . I don’t care who comes to my emergency when I dial 911, but do expect whomever shows up to know what they are doing and be qualified to do it !!!

  • Sammy W

    Well said Joan, I think that’s what the public is fed up with. Not having a say in the contractors discretionary spending on those rigs. But there’s actually an elephant in the room and thats -accountability. Which is the underlying theme with all of this.
    I do feel for the conceptual plan that they wanted to reward those whom serve. I can’t say I’d agree with paying them a per diem. But that was your Board of Supervisors believing that the highly qualified volunteers were leaving en masse or wouldn’t/couldn’t be enticed into doing it and they sought to throw some money at the problem- Poor Government.

  • Truegrit

    We need people who are serious about there position as they volunteer, not finding the tones that go off as annoying and uttering those words “not again”. Leadership is needed from seasoned FF and rescue to implement teamwork and no less than excellence expected to care for those in need. How can we work efficiently for the public if we can’t work efficiently togerther.

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