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Editorial: It’s a matter of trust

On Oct. 30, there were three accidents on Interstate 64 and its exit ramps – one during the morning drive time on the exit ramp at Olive/Clarkson and two others during the evening commute. Those accidents were nearly parallel, with one on eastbound I-64 and one on the exit ramp to Timberlake Manor Parkway.

Monarch firefighter-paramedics responded to all three accidents – blocking traffic and providing aid.

Here’s a fact. Most of us would not want to have to work an accident on a crowded highway.

Here’s another fact. Most of us are grateful that there are men and women who are willing put themselves into harm’s way to come to our aid – whether they are assisting at the scene of an accident, responding to the need for medical attention, or fighting a blazing fire.

Firefighter-paramedics and police are two of the most respected groups of employees on the taxpayers’ payroll. That’s a fact. Sure they have their detractors, but the majority of us appreciate these men and women in uniform – and are willing to pay them well to do a job that we don’t want to do.

Last month, “a statistically valid random sample of registered voters” in the Monarch Fire Protection District received a survey in the mail. The survey looked very official and was signed by “The Monarch Fire Protection District Firefighters and Paramedics.” That’s a fact.

If the recipient wanted to compete and return the survey anonymously, it appeared they could. Nowhere on the survey did it ask for the recipient’s name or identifying information. Another fact.

But appearances are tricky.

The survey was not anonymous. That’s also a fact. A survey code in the upper lefthand corner linked each unique form to a unique recipient. To be fair, the cover letter contained the following disclosure: “A completed, mailed survey will enter your address into the drawing to receive one of three $100 (Target) gift certificates.” The truth was there. It just wasn’t very transparent.

Furthermore, the survey was not from the Monarch Fire Protection District. It was from the firefighters union who works for the fire district. The Professional Firefighters of West St. Louis County, a group of Monarch firefighter-paramedics representing themselves, sent the survey. Oddly, the fire district and the firefighters union within that district are two very different entities, which never seem to see things the same way and have markedly different agendas.

The cover letter says: On behalf of the Professional Firefighters of West St. Louis County who so proudly serve the residents in the Monarch Fire Protection District…” But would the average recipient really know to separate the district from those firefighter-paramedics? Probably not.

Sometimes the facts are cloudy – and you have to ask yourself why?

Do the Professional Firefighters of West St. Louis County not trust us? And if so, is that because of all the infighting within the district between union representatives and the elected officials who serve as Monarch’s Board of Directors? It is a rare week when this newsmagazine does not have to report on some disagreement between the fire district and the firefighter-paramedics.

Aren’t you tired of getting caught in their crosshairs? Don’t you wish these entities – who work for you, by the way – could just learn to work together in a fair and transparent way? They bicker and argue and try to undermine each other – and they try to use taxpayers as pawns in their games.

Please stop the games!

It would be wonderful if we did not have to point out the distinction and the marvelously separate agendas of the Monarch Fire District and the firefighters union that works for them. It’s time for the Professional Firefighters of West St. Louis County and the Monarch Board of Directors to clear the air, trust their taxpayers and work together to create a professional environment that we can trust with our tax dollars, property and lives.

If that doesn’t happen – and soon – no amount of Target gift certificates will be able to buy our opinions or our trust.


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