Letters: ‘Excellent’ coverage of race for supervisor much appreciated

Dear Editor,
I would like to take this opportunity to thank both Michael
Moore, reporter, and Mark Derry, editor, for the excellent coverage
of Teresa Alvarado’s South County endorsements and the Santa Clara
Supervisors in general. There will be an announcement soon of a
City of Gilroy Councilman’s endorsement as well. The article about
the supervisor’s race was well done, but please note that, unlike
Morgan Hill and Gilroy, the position of mayor rotates amongst
council members in Los Gatos. Diane McNutt is now mayor and Mr.
Wasserman is a councilman this year.
‘Excellent’ coverage of race for supervisor much appreciated

Dear Editor,

I would like to take this opportunity to thank both Michael Moore, reporter, and Mark Derry, editor, for the excellent coverage of Teresa Alvarado’s South County endorsements and the Santa Clara Supervisors in general. There will be an announcement soon of a City of Gilroy Councilman’s endorsement as well. The article about the supervisor’s race was well done, but please note that, unlike Morgan Hill and Gilroy, the position of mayor rotates amongst council members in Los Gatos. Diane McNutt is now mayor and Mr. Wasserman is a councilman this year.

In my opinion, there are several very good reasons that Teresa Alvarado has received these endorsements in South County. She is a graduate of Leadership Gilroy and is very visible in South County even before she announced her campaign. She is an articulate voice regarding the many issues that South County faces. She has studied the water issues here and realizes that South County is very unique in the Bay Area when it comes to water and flooding. She realizes that South County is special in that we are the only truly rural region left in the county and has championed to protect our greenbelts and open spaces.

As an Hispanic Woman, Teresa is also in tune to the special needs of an ethnic female population in the county. I could go on and on but more than anything I wanted to thank the editors and reporters of our local papers for bringing us important information about this most important race. For those of us in South County that have felt for so long that we did not have a voice about our unique issues, you now have a chance to elect that voice.

Finally a thought about having an elected voice for South County, we as residents of this area MUST show up and speak at the public meetings on such subjects as water redistricting, high-speed rail, air quality, and flooding. I have been gratified to see a lot more folks now participating in the public forums. Keep it up and together we can be a very loud voice in determining our future.

Swanee Edwards, Morgan Hill

Contrary to reports, firefighters openly communicating with city

Dear Editor,

Last Friday an editorial, article and opinion column focused on the Gilroy firefighters. It deeply disturbs the members of this association that such unfactual and undocumented slander would be written about us. The Gilroy firefighters completely and utterly reject the claims that were printed in last Friday’s paper.

Editor Mark Derry’s column states, “When I hear that the Gilroy Fire Department union leadership is flat-out rejecting good-faith city efforts to reopen contract negotiations, it’s an absolute wonder … so buried in the sand that it can only be arrogance.”

In fact the Gilroy firefighters have been on the forefront always willing to and meeting with the city when it comes to its economic conditions. We have never rejected an opportunity to sit and discuss options. In fact we had discussions with the city last month and are scheduled to meet again with the city on Thursday! The Editorial Board states “JEERS for the Gilroy firefighters union which is, apparently, going to turn a deaf ear to the city’s request for extended contract concessions.” In fact, the Gilroy firefighters just received a request from the city on March 2 to meet and discuss a concession proposal. We are unaware of the details of that proposal. Does the Dispatch Editorial Board know something we don’t?

In Jonathan Partridge’s article, Councilman Perry Woodward is quoted as saying that “If they’re going to hold us hostage, the only choice we have is to take that power away from them.” Where and how are the Gilroy firefighters holding the city hostage? Are we not currently working under a negotiated concession with the city? Reminder, although we are currently under contract we willingly negotiated our current concession. The firefighters continue to meet with the city in good faith over apparatus staffing, trying to get real answers to real issues that surround any operational change that effects the wages, hours and working conditions of its members. To date, we have received very limited and conceptual information with no real substance.

What is more ludicrous is that none of these talks are subject to binding arbitration. Binding arbitration plays no factor in any of these discussions or their outcome. Contract negotiation discussions and closed sessions of Council are confidential. There are a couple of things that deeply disturb us. One, is the apparent leak of information most likely from the closed session on Monday. Second is the outright misinformation that may have been given to members of Council in regards to prior discussions with the Gilroy firefighters which was absolutely incorrect.

Is it time for a Council member to sit in on negotiations so that facts are properly conveyed during closed-session meetings? Gilroy firefighters have always willingly met with the city. We have continued this practice throughout these difficult times. We strive to maintain an open line of communication. We continue to maintain a pulse of the economic conditions as they affect our city. We ask questions of city representatives and expect answers. Since we do not make decisions based on conceptual numbers or possibilities, we wait until the documented facts are provided just as City Council members do when they are discussing items on their agenda.

On Thursday, March 11, Local 2805 will again meet with the city. For two years, Local 2805 has had no contractual obligation to confer with the city due to a closed contract. As a matter of “good faith,” we have continued discussions.

After Thursday, we will continue to meet and discuss economic factors that affect the city, the department and the members of the Gilroy Firefighter’s Association. The issues are complex and cannot be resolved in a two-hour meeting. Just as city representatives have a Council to report back to, we also have a membership to report back to. In the end, we hope that both parties can come to a mutual agreement on pressing issues affecting all of us during these tough economic times.

Joshua Valverde, Mark Ordaz, Jim Buessing, Kevin Bebee, Mike Botill, Cliff Colyer and Scott MacDonald, Executive Board Gilroy Firefighters Association, IAFF Local 2805

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