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Sedona Fire District Staff Insubordinate?

Dear Sedona Eye editor:

I attended my first SFD Governing Board meeting (Tuesday’s Budget Workshop) since the election of the board and I was amazed by the lack of respect shown to the first professional Chief they have had for quite a long time.

The Chairman, Dave Blauert, kept on addressing Chief Hazime as “Mr. Hazime” the entire meeting…and I know that it was intentional. Even though that meeting was meant to allow the public to speak out, since this Wednesday they voted on the 2011/12 budget without public input. It was obvious that there was no intention on the part of the Chairman to allow for citizen’s input. The majority of this board has thrown all democratic principles out the window and don’t care what anyone has to say about it. The sad part is that they allowed to get away with it.

Near the end of the Tuesday meeting, Mr. Blauert read a statement dealing with “insubordination by senior members of the SFD staff (meaning Chief Hazime) that was meant as his “last warning before further action is taken.” Seems to me that they are trying to force the Chief out because he is not willing to undertake their reckless actions that will negatively impact all of the residents of the SFD District.

What the new majority of the SFD Governing board fails to realize is that his job as a professional in his field is to protect the lives and properties of the residents/businesses in his district and not cover up for their lack of knowledge and experience. Anything less on his part would be dereliction of duty. They are the ones who are guilty of insubordination. They were NOT elected, nor are they competent to tell the Chief how to do his job. Their constant micromanagement of this professional organization will endanger the lives and properties of its residents.

It’s indeed ironic, that Mr. Blauert, the son of the woman who helped as a volunteer to set up what became our initial fire department, is the one who will be instrumental in leading the dismantling of an extremely successful fire district.

It’s a very sad day when the residents of our fire district are standing by and allowing an inexperienced board to decide the fate of our lives.

As appropriately stated by Jim Buehler in an editorial in today’s Red Rock News: “Who on the board is qualified to decide the manpower and support equipment sufficient to respond to both a heart attack in West Sedona, and a fire in the Village of Oak Creek at the same time? Which member is qualified to determine the appropriate training and support to handle our rural and urban settings? We know the qualifications of SFD Fire Chief Nazih Hazime to make these decision; what are the fire board’s?”

I would rather leave that call to the man we spent a lot of money seeking out, and whose credentials are impeccable. That’s why we hired him, right?…Let the Chief determine our protection needs, not civilian wannabees. That’s what we hired him for.

Only the residents of the SFD District can decide how this will play itself out. It’s time to get involved before it’s too late!

Tom Longo
Sedona, AZ

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  1. D.C., VOC says:

    Mr. Blauert,
    If what Mr. Longo says is true of your public derision of Chief Hazime, you must cease with this conduct not befitting an adult. The SFD is not to be dismantled by you or Miss Errik, Mr. Montgomery or Mr. Christiansen, it is to be improved through a cooperative effort with everyone by everyone. Your conduct and those of fellow Board members will determine if any of you are elected again or if our community will walk on the other side of the street when you approach. Chief Hazime has proven his value and was vetted by a diverse group of individuals that need to stand up and be heard supportive of the Chief now. Respect and civility are givens in sound policy making. If you or any of the others on the SFD Board are acting like bullies pounding on bully pulpits, you are disgracing our votes for you. What is the Mayor and City Council doing about this and the Yavapai Board of Supervisors? It would be nice to hear from Chip Davis on this matter. What is Big Park doing about this? Thank you Mr. Longo for attending a meeting and informing us of a problem you observed. Sincerely yours.
    A concerned Sedona Village of Oak Creek resident (initials only, do not print my name-address-E-mail address,thank you)

  2. Andrea says:

    I, too, attended the meeting mentioned by Mr. Longo and witnessed the same type of behavior by Dave Blauert towards the Chief.. But I also witnessed the fact that Mr. Bill Whittington, the attorney on contract with the SFD, kept a very low key presence and provided very little guidance to the board. I have witnessed several violations that should he should have very easily averted. The governing laws of all fire districts in AZ state very clearly that boards are to provide only parameters for the Chief to follow. They are NOT supposed to micromanage the operations of the fire district, or the activities of the Fire Chief. All contact with the district is supposed to go through the Chief. That’s what they were elected to do and, therefore, are mandated to do. With the exception of Ty Montgomery, they are all a bunch of civilians totally unequipped to handle daily operations, nor tell the Chief what to do. An effective attorney for the SFD should be in a position to guide the board on their actions when they are unwarranted and illegal. In addition, the structure of the meetings seems to be specifically intended to not allow the public’s input before the public vote. This, too, is something that Mr. Whittington should be able to bring to the attention of the Board. In addition, when new board members were elected, Mr. Whittington has always conducted a session open to the public, that explained in detail the duties and responsibilities of the Chief and the governing board members. He also went into great detail on the do’s and don’ts of the AZ Statutes governing Open Meeting Law violations. For some reason, this wasn’t done this time around. That ‘s a VERY serious mistake on the part of Mr. Whittington.

    Mr. Whittington’s actions point to the fact that he is not doing his job and should be replaced by someone who can. I understand that he has been hired by past boards a while back, but if he doesn’t step up to the plate, he will have to be replaced by someone who can get the job done.

    His position is too critical and too costly to the SFD for him not to do his job the way it’s supposed to be done. It’s time to shape up or ship out!


  3. Frank Nichols, CV AZ says:

    disgusting behaviors by elected officials!!!!!!! finished reading comments to Bagleys article to see us shafted AGAIN by elected officials making deals in phx!!!!!!! who died and made these people GODS!!!!! it’s a JOB not GOD that you were elected to do

  4. Laura T. , VOC says:

    Isn’t Mr. Blauert a Tea Partier?

  5. m allen says:

    Blauert, Erick and Dible are all members of the Tea Party. All attended several meetings in the past year both before and after the last election. It explains why they hate public servants and anything funded by tax dollars.

  6. Gary says:

    Red Rock Lose gives Dave Blauert a column this week. What executive made that poor decision? Why did the RR newspaper circumvent fairness by giving a column to someone being recalled? Isn’t that the same as giving a middle finger to every citizen that wants Dave Blauert and the SF board recalled? Why in his RR column did Blauert get to blast every citizen that opposes what he and Erick, Demme, Christensen, Dible say and do?

    That means the RR newspaper agrees with him since they underwrite his political rants? Why wasn’t Terry Keller given that newspaper column? It’s the fire chief’s responsibility to report to the district citizens and not the Boards. Isn’t that one of the jobs the fire chief gets hired to do, be responsible for the actions of his department personnel and be responsive to the needs of the citizens? So how is it that the SF Board gets to pull the RR newspaper string? Why is it that Blauert now has a political podium paid for by the newspaper itself? Keller is hired and doesn’t need a political stool to stand on. Blauert was elected with support of the RR newspaper so is that why he gets a column to blast the recall effort?

    For what’s its worth, I have decided not to buy the Red Rock newspapers with all their wasteful inserts for ecology purposes and might suggest that other people think about it to save trees and printing ink and disappearing landfill space. Books and newspapers are free to read at the public library in Tequa and west Sedona. Sustain Sedona with better ecological choices.

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