Press "Enter" to skip to content

Disenfranchising Firefighters

In many states, the only citizens we disenfranchise are those with criminal convictions. The same cannot be said of Local 244 of the International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF). Board members of this particular group decided to disenfranchise fire fighters who were on duty (subscription):

The fanning of the political flames began in July, when the Albuquerque Area Firefighters Local 244 – the union representing about 800 city and Bernalillo County firefighters – met to endorse a candidate for the Albuquerque-based 1st Congressional District.

Union president John Garcia said firefighters who attended voted to support Madrid. Proxy votes from others who didn’t attend would have swung the vote in favor of Wilson, but union board members at the meeting decided all firefighters weren’t fully apprised of the proxy process.

Those board members decided to toss the proxy votes, Garcia said, so Madrid came out the winner.

Wilson, in a late-July fundraising letter, accused Madrid of playing a personal role in the vote issue.

“Patsy Madrid and her supporters blocked almost two dozen firefighters from voting in a union election to endorse me because they were on duty protecting us and couldn’t be there in person to vote,” Wilson wrote, adding, “Let’s face it, she’s willing to cheat to win.”

Brewer said that claim is all smoke, no fire.

Can you imagine in this day and age someone getting away with tossing proxy votes for no good reason? Am I the only one who finds this offensive. Where are all those Democrats who were filing lawsuits and crying foul during the last election? How about the folks who insist on paper voting to avoid disenfranchising voters? How is it that tossing legitimate proxies to swing a vote to Patricia Madrid does not trouble them?

Union board members decided that not all members were aware of the proxy process. Well, you’re probably wondering where is the process hidden? Actually, it turns out it is not hidden at all. Anyone can find the proxy rules at the IAFF website by downloading the Bylaws. The Bylaws clearly state on page 10:


Members unable to attend a meeting shall be allowed to sign a PROXY giving
their voting privileges to another member in Good Standing provided that PROXY voting is permitted on the issue and:

A. The member must be on leave, departmental trip, training status, or on paid
status, at the time of the meeting.
B. A witnessed signature by recipient E-Board member

So, what happened? “[The] board members decided to toss the proxy votes, Garcia said, so Madrid came out the winner.” Madrid supporters tossing votes to make her a winner. Is this what our Democracy has come to?

I’m sorry Ms. Brewer. Every elementary school child knows that where there is smoke, there is fire, and this most certainly smells and looks like smoke and mirrors.