St. Paul Firefighter Union Chief: We’re Uncontrollable Drunks

The firefighters in the IAFF Local 21 of St. Paul might want to check the coffee in the firehouse where Pat Flanagan serves. In what was meant as a stinging rebuke to Mayor Randy Kelly, Flanagan specifically e-mailed a warning to Kelly not to attend their annual installation bash, warning Kelly that “alcohol will be served” and implying that would make the party dangerous for the mayor:

Reasons for the snub, Flanagan wrote, are the mayor’s budget cuts, his decision to decommission an engine company, and growing tensions at the bargaining table.
Flanagan ended his three-paragraph missive, dated Jan. 10, with this salvo: “Alcohol will be served at this event, so we write this letter in the best interest of all parties involved.”
On Thursday, Kelly fired back with an e-mail of his own. He defended his record and said he was “perplexed” by the reference to alcohol. Was that meant as a threat? Or simply an omen of embarrassing behavior to come?
“I will, of course, abide by your wishes despite my concern over the content and tone of the e-mail,” wrote Kelly, who included the entire union membership in his 10-paragraph response.

Embarrassing behavior to come? I’d say Flanagan embarrassed himself and the union enough as it is. Someone needs to explain how making thinly-veiled threats of violence and rampant drunkenness serves the image and cause of St. Paul firefighters. Do IAFF Local 21’s functions routinely turn into debauched riots, or do they save that for their annual installation gala?
At the least, the e-mail represents a childish effort to lash out at the mayor and make him look foolish. Unfortunately for Flanagan, it appears that Kelly is the only grown-up in this story, and Flanagan’s threats undermine the enormous goodwill that firefighters enjoy in all communities. IAFF Local 21 members might want to think about recalling the chief of the goon squad forthwith.

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