NEW ORLEANS, LA – Could it be that the problems and inefficiency with equipment and fire trucks inside the New Orleans Fire Department (NOFD) be a purposeful retaliation by Mayor Mitch Landrieu for the hell firefighters have given him over the last few years for refusing to pay them millions in backpay, leading to a high-profile court battle?
That’s certainly what the New Orleans firefighters union President Nick Felton suggested to the Advocate‘s Jeff Adelson in an interview over the weekend.
The Hayride broke the story late on Friday of last week about the inefficient equipment and fire trucks that New Orleans firefighters have to deal with on a daily basis while on the job.
The issues outlined by sources close to the Hayride included daily problems for firefighters with fire trucks breaking down and the fact that equipment used by the NOFD is nearly a decade old.
Also, sources said that the supposed “rehab tents” for firefighters that were featured in a WGNO news story months ago are nowhere to be seen by firefighters, suggesting that it could have been a public relations ploy by city officials.
In the midst of this hidden inefficiency within NOFD finally coming to light, is an ongoing fight between the city’s firefighters and Landrieu.
As the Hayride has covered extensively, more so than any other media outlet in the city, Landrieu has continued to refuse to pay New Orleans firefighters approximately $142 million in backpay, which the firefighters have been fighting to receive since the 1990’s.
Subsequently, Landrieu was ordered to house arrest until he payed the firefighters the money, a ruling that Landrieu accepted at the time, as he said he would take house arrest for the remainder of his two years in office.
Then, at the last minute, the state Supreme Court ruled that Landrieu did not have to be on house arrest while he was appealing the ruling.
All of this in the face of New Orleans firefighters and possibly a motive by the Landrieu administration to keep the NOFD running inefficiently, according to Felton’s interview with the Advocate.
Felton pointed to the fact that the New Orleans Police Department (NOPD) and the city’s health departments have received new vehicles in the last few years, but not the NOFD.
City officials, though, are planning to look into new fire trucks for the NOFD. Landrieu’s administration says that each fire truck, however, could cost up to $500,000, which would mean millions would have to be spent over the course of about five years in order to replace all the fire trucks in the NOFD.
Of course, this is what is so hypocritical about the Landrieu administration according to grassroots movements like ‘Save Our Circle,’ who is adamantly fighting Landrieu on his effort to dish out thousands and possibly millions to pay for the removal and storage of four Confederate-related monuments.
Grassroots activists trying to save art and history in the city say Landrieu should be focusing as many city resources as possible on issues within NOPD, NOFD and crime, not on removing historical monuments.