Toledo Mayor Trying Another Approach To Reconciling Fire Chief, Union

Mayor Paula Hicks-Hudson announced today that she will put together a new committee to address the ongoing dispute between Toledo’s fire department administration and rank-and-file union.

The mayor said members of business, labor, government, and faith groups will volunteer their time to help mend the dispute between Toledo Firefighters Local 92 and Chief Luis Santiago.

“To this end, we’re not giving up. This is a community problem and it does require a community solution,” she said.

The mayor and former Ohio Supreme Court justice Andy Douglas addressed reporters during a news conference at One Government Center.

Mr. Douglas, who was hired to be a mediator between the administration and the union earlier this summer, said it appeared at points the union officials and department administrators were making progress, but it has since reached a stalemate. He said a reluctance by Jeff Romstadt, union president, to return his requests to speak have contributed to this point.

“Ultimately, it comes down to who is going to run the fire department,” he said.

Mr. Romstadt has repeatedly called for the resignation of Chief Santiago.

Chief Santiago has led the department since July, 2011. The union has criticized the chief for department policy changes cited in a report from the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health which was issued after the January, 2014, deaths of two firefighters.

The union in May voted no confidence in the chief, by a vote of 319-46.

The mayor today reiterated her support for the fire chief.

From The Toledo Blade