This kid found out his teacher needed a car before starting a fundraiser to get him one. Officials tell the kid that it’s illegal for students or their parents to give a teacher a gift worth more than $25.

One could argue that the car isn’t a gift from students or their parents. It’s from the anonymous donors who gave to GoFundMe. I wonder if there is a Montana attorney that would have donated some assistance…

Back when I worked for the fire department, the mayor of our city was caught taking season floor seats to the Orlando Magic in exchange for awarding city contracts to a particular company. The city then put a rule in place that no employee was permitted to accept any gift whatsoever from any business within the city, not even a cup of coffee or a discount on soda.

This didn’t stop the cops from getting free apartments, because many apartment complexes give cops a free apartment in exchange for the cop agreeing to be the on site security guard. Of course the apartment was always right in front of the office, so people would see the officer’s take home patrol car parked in front.

Anyhow, it all came to a head back in 1998, when the state of Florida was struck by a drought. The wildfires that happened as a result caused 10,000 firefighters from all of the country to spend weeks putting out fires. I know I was out there for a week and a half at a time, sleeping on the ground in the woods. I actually enjoyed it.

As a result of these fires, Florida businesses decided that firefighters would be appreciated through various discounts. Disney offered free one-day tickets, Sea World and Bush Gardens were giving free annual passes to firefighters, local restaurants were giving discounted meals, those sorts of things. Our city manager prohibited us from accepting any of it, on penalty of immediate termination. Even though Disney was in our back yard, firefighters from Illinois who didn’t even participate in putting out the fires were enjoying free days there, while we were stuck without. This made a few guys angry. Disney wasn’t within the city limits, so we couldn’t possibly do them any illegal favors, it was just the city manager being petty, as far as some guys were concerned.

So one of our firefighters called a local news radio station. The station called the city manager on the air, and the dumbass actually said, “I saw one of our firefighters towing a boat behind his pickup truck the other day. If they can afford boats and new trucks, they make enough money to buy their own Disney tickets.”

The radio DJ’s then said, “How is it any of your business what they buy? Is that how you decide what your employees make? You decide what they should be able to buy, then pay them accordingly?” It all blew up, and the resulting PR storm eventually saw the firefighters being allowed to accept the discounts. The city manager took it out on the fire department for the next few years by giving the rest of the city employees raises, but not the fire department.

After 4 or 5 years of that kind of treatment, the firefighters voted to become a union department. That is how my department went union. All because of a boat, a truck, and a mouse.

On a side note, those fires changed the way Florida’s firefighters handled wildfires. Up to that point, firefighters in the state put out every wildland fire. This caused there to be fewer fires, and allowed debris like dead bushes and trees to pile up in the woods. Naturally, lightning caused fires usually burn this dead material off periodically and clean up the woods. Wildfires, it turns out, are a big part of nature. Some plants and animals count on those fires as a part of the life cycle. (For example, there is a species of pine tree that requires a wildfire in order to reproduce)

We were disrupting the normal cycle of life. So now, firefighters allow these fires to burn, as long as no structures are in danger. In addition, the forestry department occasionally does prescribed burns of areas of state land that haven’t had a fire in awhile. Now the woods aren’t filled with large fuel loads of unburned debris.

Categories: Government


DWW · February 11, 2023 at 9:19 am

Prior to my current job at “Nameless Megacorp,” I never understood how folks could vote to unionize. I had always been employed by relatively small businesses where the owner knew most, if not all of the employees and wage/benefit negotiations took place face to face with respect and civility.

My current company employs 70,000 and is based in a city 1500 miles from our location. Wage and staffing decisions are handed down from on high with the implicit threat, “If you won’t do it, your replacement will…” Now the job comes with certain benefits with respect to schedule and stability, so I stay, but I’m beginning to see the how and why of a vote to unionize.

    Divemedic · February 11, 2023 at 10:24 am

    The odd part is that our local and state level union was pretty conservative, as firefighters tend to be. Our Local President was very active in “Firefighters for Bush” when he was running against Gore. At one point, I was the Local Treasurer and on the negotiating team. We never asked for outrageous pay or benefits. All we wanted was what was fair and in keeping with the average of the area.
    The national level union is the one that was so leftist.

    EN2 SS · February 11, 2023 at 1:31 pm

    “If you won’t do it, your replacement will…”

    I had, emphasis on had, an asshole boss tell me that, then say he could go hire one of the guys living under the freeway underpass to do my job. FYI I was a Senior Master ASE Heavy Truck Tech, Ford Master Tech, 14 years experience. I told him to go ahead, I’d wait. Funny thing is, he shut his mouth and left me alone.

BobF · February 11, 2023 at 9:26 am

City manager a former public entity board member, a.k.a. power hungry free time petty meddler?

I’d have titled it in reverse idea, “A Boat, A Truck, and A Mouse.” 🙂

BTW, I live 15 minutes from WDW, but I’m so anti-WDW now I bought annual passes for Sea World 3 weeks ago.

Bear Claw · February 11, 2023 at 10:10 am

And now gabbin nuisance is suing PG&E in California, for him its a racket instead of managing it like Florida does.

Go Fund Yourself · February 11, 2023 at 10:29 am

They pulled the plug on the account to help the 73 year old rancher with legal defense who shot an invader replacement or future lifetime CPUSA voter.
South Park has the hilarious Go Fund Yourself from the archive.

Paulb · February 11, 2023 at 5:10 pm

Gotta agree with the poster above. GFM are communist vampires. GiveSendGo, OTOH, seem legit, and take a far smaller piece of the pie.
Wildfire in ecology is a hot potato subject regionally. Giant Sequoia forests are probably the most famous example of a fire-dependent ecology, but to an extent, redwoods and most of the Pacific temperate ecology in the US is fire-dependent.
I often worked out of a remote field station in downeast Maine when I was a biologist. Although I focused on marine work, there was a national forest wilderness area a mile inland of us. There were enough old fire roads from before it was a wilderness area, when it was just a national forest (wilderness areas are not managed, just left to be), that a lightning-derived forest fire wiped out a half-mile section only while I was up there. The local volunteer F.D.’s did an amazing job containing the fire within the wilderness area, as it’s a very poor region. The nice thing about rural area and small town FD’s working is that there is no bullshit about showing support and gratitude.

Anonymous · February 12, 2023 at 2:05 am

If government is so much more wonderful than private industry, why do government employees need a union?

The idea that any population of humans can hide away from competing with other humans by using protectionism/unions/cartels does not succeed in practice. How did protectionism work out for the Aztecs when the Spanish showed up?

“Fair” is a word that means “in accordance with the rules of the game”. If you choose to work for that amount of pay, then it’s fair.

    Divemedic · February 12, 2023 at 10:38 am

    There are advantages to both. Government tends to grant job security, private sector usually means more money. Then there are some jobs that simply aren’t available in the private sector- police and fire being among them. Yes, there are corporate fire departments, but they are a rare exception.
    In Florida, unions do not have protectionism to stop competition. You don’t HAVE to join the union. However, if you don’t and some political drone wants to come after you because you are in the NRA or voted for his opponent, the union can’t and won’t help you.
    You are right, fair is that everyone is treated the same under the rules of the game. Union protection is part of those rules, and membership in one grants you legal rights and protections that you can’t get without it.
    The union at the local level is comprised of you and your coworkers. It isn’t like it is some mysterious bunch of people that you never meet.

      Anonymous · February 12, 2023 at 11:28 pm

      Then there are some jobs that simply aren’t available in the private sector — police and fire being among them.

      Fire used to be private in the US. I believe police used to be private in the US, too. These jobs aren’t available privately now because government banned that.

      The union at the local level is comprised of you and your coworkers. It isn’t like it is some mysterious bunch of people that you never meet.

      Unions are national hierarchies with policy flowing down from above, and the higher-ups in control are a mysterious bunch of people I never meet.

        Divemedic · February 13, 2023 at 8:02 am

        Private fire departments were tried, and they didn’t work. I have posted on that before. The government didn’t ban it. There are still some private fire departments, the model is just rare because it doesn’t work, except under very specific and rare circumstances. (See Exxon, Rural Metro Fire, Wackenhut Fire, etc.)
        There is also the question of responding to incidents outside of working hours. That’s one area we tried to address at union negotiations, but the city refused to cover us while performing at emergencies outside of working hours.
        The national union really isn’t involved in local union business. The only contact we had with the national organization was sending them money, which the law says locals are required to do.
        Make sure you know more than a tagline’s worth of information before you try and speak on a subject where you obviously are uninformed. It makes you look foolish.

Don Curton · February 12, 2023 at 8:44 am

Pretty much seeing the same thing in all industries. Back in the 80’s and 90’s, it was pretty normal for vendors to visit plant sites and take engineers and techs out to lunch. At least once a week or so I got a free meal. The big vendors, guys we did millions of $$ of business with, would usually do a yearly Christmas event complete with gifts (mostly expensive Christmas ornaments which the wives loved). Offshore fishing trips, hunting trips, etc. weren’t as routine but they happened.

Now, not only is none of that allowed anymore, we have to take yearly training on why it’s not allowed and sign off that we don’t ever take any freebies. It’s the forced training that really gets me. Fine, no free lunches but damn, hour long training class telling me not to accept a free meal? That’s low, man.

    Divemedic · February 12, 2023 at 10:42 am

    Yeah, except in this case it was more like: “Bob’s Hardware is offering a discount to anyone who is a mechanic. Now, we know that Bob’s Hardware is 30 miles away and never does business with this firm, but you can’t accept the discount or you will be fired.”

    Remember that Disney wasn’t in our response area. This was just like the gun control debate- the mayor committed a crime by accepting basketball tickets in exchange for awarding a contract, and instead of punishing him, the entire city workforce was punished by not being allowed to accept discounts that were given to everyone else.

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