Clark County Nevada Commissioner Confronts Firefighters Union

Best wishes to Clark County Commissioner Steve Sisolak who is still justifiably after firefighters over fraudulent sick leave.

Please consider Sisolak calls for investigation of firefighter sick leave:

In 2009, Clark County Commissioner Steve Sisolak began looking hard at Fire Department costs. He had received a deluge of angry calls and e-mails from constituents wondering why the unionized firefighters weren’t accepting salary or benefits reductions as the county dealt with budget cuts and the local economy continued its slide.

“Everybody was losing their jobs, their homes,” Sisolak said.

For much of that year, he was the only commissioner willing to criticize their salaries, benefits and retirement packages that averaged about $180,000 in 2009.

In retaliation, members of the union showed up at Sisolak’s public meetings to glare at him. He said he received death threats, which prompted county administrators to post park police at commission meetings. A city firefighter posted on Facebook that she’d like to shoot him.

This week brought a measure of vindication for Sisolak in his fight with the union after an arbitrator broke a stalemate in negotiations by deciding the county’s contract offer was better than the firefighter union’s offer.

Sisolak said he was happy. “I’m not done, though,” he added.

Late Thursday, he sent letters to the FBI, Metro Police, Clark County district attorney and others seeking an investigation into potentially criminal acts of racketeering and fraud by firefighters. Sisolak has long alleged that firefighters are abusing the sick-leave system to rack up overtime pay.

After reading the arbitrator’s 26-page decision, he is more determined than ever to have his suspicion investigated. He pointed specifically to one part of the decision:

“Some employees use sick leave as vacation, scheduling themselves to be ‘sick’ months in advance. This improper use of sick leave is evident from e-mails the (Fire) Department recovered,” arbitrator Norman Brand wrote. “Second, it appears some firefighters may deliberately call in late to turn the overtime opportunity into a callback/overtime opportunity.”

Callback pay is more valuable than overtime because it pays overtime plus a contribution to a firefighter’s pension.

In his letter, Sisolak said if more than one firefighter has been involved in sick-leave scamming, it might represent a violation of the federal RICO (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations) Act.

About the author: Mike “Mish” Shedlock is a registered investment advisor representative for Sitka Pacific Capital Management. His top-rated global economics blog Mish’s Global Economic Trend Analysis offers insightful commentary every day of the week. He is also a contributing “professor” on Minyanville, a community site focused on economic and financial education. Every Thursday he does a podcast on HoweStreet and on an ad hoc basis he contributes to many other websites, including UnionWatch.

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