At the December 12th meeting, the firefighters had approached councilors on their way to the meeting to protest the firing of Kevin Pittman. Mr. Pittman did not attend the meeting. Rhett Bullard pretended that he knew nothing about the request to remove Kevin Pittman as fire Chief and made no admission. Walter McKenzie warned the council that if we remove Mr. Pittman without a fair hearing, we will no longer have a fire department. Currently under Kevin Pittman as Fire Chief we have had more volunteers who are certified and who have protected White Springs and the surrounding area as no other town has had.
On behalf of all the Firefighters, one firefighter read the following to the Town Council in the December meeting:
WHITE SPRINGS FIRE RESCUE December 12, 2017 VOTE OF NO CONFIDENCE
We, the members of the White Springs Fire Rescue, have composed this letter to express our dissatisfaction with the current Assistant Chief, Joseph Andrew Greene. Unfortunately circumstances have left us with no other recourse. We have lost all trust, faith and confidence in Assistant Greene’s ability to lead this department
Asst. Chief Greene’s lack of dedication and inability to perform his duties in a timely fashion has damaged the department’s performance. These problematic tendencies are very crucial in a field where mistakes and divisive behavior can cost department members and citizens their lives. He has not upheld his position or responsibility to the Department and has not attended any department trainings, functions nor Station shifts since April 29, 2017. Records show since July 1, 2017 a total of (51) responses have been required in and around White Springs. Chief Pittman has responded to (35) of those calls. Firefighter Brazil has responded to (29) calls, Firefighter’s Perez and Register have responded to (27), Greene has only responded to (7). Other members of the department who are not able to reach the station in an adequate response time are often performing shifts and duties at the fire station on their days off from full time employment. The only shift Greene has participated in was a contractual paid event. During that shift, both he and member Dominique Greene were dismissed from their duties for inappropriate behavior and misconduct within a patient care area.
His lack of leadership, mismanagement and poor policy decisions have damaged the relationships within the department. In June of 2017, Chief Pittman met with the Town Manager, Stacy Tebo, on behalf of the department to discuss Assistant Chief Greene’s lack of communication and his deliberate avoidance of training and department procedures. Attempts to address workplace problems with Assistant Greene have gone unheeded by the Town Manager regardless of the number of complaints.
During Hurricane Irma, several members were present at the station for up to (72) hours each to perform their needed services due to the catastrophic impact of the storm. Greene, who is also the town Utilities Director, was not present to fulfill his duties in public works and the fire department, before or during Irma. No contact was maintained with the department during this time and several individual members were approached by contractors, city employees and citizens attempting to contact Greene. This was a major devaluation of Greene’s dedication to the department, as Chief Pittman was present for the entirety of the storm including preparations and cleanup efforts alongside other responders, maintaining clear communication with all members.
Greene refuses to address issues presented to him by department members, answering inquiries in a dismissive manner showing disregard to the chain of command and the need of the department. When approached by department personnel regarding essential firefighting equipment needing repair or replacement, he deflects questions and says “I do not have to explain myself”. In other confrontations, he has told members that Town Manager Tebo has not allotted any budget for the department’s frivolous spending” and the equipment shall have to suffice, even though we must stress that the difference between life and death for firefighters is the degree of functioning equipment they possess.
With (8) certified Firefighter One members and (2) Firefighter Two members in the department with only (3) functioning air packs, this places all members in dangerous situations. Greene’s lack of care for the issue shows his total disregard for department members. He does not show respect to the livelihood or wellbeing of the firefighter’s safety.
In October, Assistant Chief Greene and Town Manager Tebo removed personnel access to the station’s computers required for reporting runs and other necessary information. Taboo’s memo claimed that Greene would be taking full responsibility for the logging of paperwork and the running of reports. Since this was enacted, Green has not performed his duties in a timely manner, often requiring members to tape reports, receipts and requests to his office door. This attitude of poor management has sown distrust with his refusal to communicate properly.
We feel that the relationship with Assistant Chief Green is irreparable. He has brought morale to an all-time low with his lack of leadership and poor management style. Greene has established a pattern and practice of inequitable treatment of department personnel. A bad manager can take a functioning staff and destroy it by causing the best employees to leave the Department and those which remain to lose all motivation.
In closing, we would like to reiterate one last time that the members of White Springs Fire Rescue have lost all trust and faith in Assistant Chief Andrew Greene’s ability to lead this Department. We therefore, respectively ask that you support our VOTE OF NO CONFIDENCE and relieve Assistant Chief Greene of his duties and responsibilities pertaining to the Fire Department.
The Members of White Springs Fire Rescue
End of Letter
Making a vote of no confidence in Andrew Greene, in a public forum, was their last hope in this towns’ city officials to do something about the problem. It was brought to Stacy Tebo’s attention in a meeting she and Kevin Pittman had. When he asked her who appointed Greene as Assistant Chief an She stated Stith did (A former chief who quit twice who used Greene as an administrator only but neither fought fires as volunteers).
Pittman also informed her that he was going to remove Greene from the Assistant Chief spot and just do away with it because it was not needed due to the quality of leaders he had under Greene. . Stacy Tebo said ”No; You cannot remove Greene again”. She was told he can stay on the department as a fire fighter but not as the Assistant Chief again. She said “No!”. Much of this information was received from the firefighters themselves.
Andrew Greene handles the Wastewater Treatment plant and he assisted Robert C. Townsend former Town Manager and a cousin of Rhett Bullard’s prior to taking over the utility when the former was fired. Although he was appointed Assistant Fire Chief by former Fire Chief Steven Stith at the direction of Rhett Bullard, and former Town Manager Robert C. Townsend, he has never been inside a structure fire or been to one in three years. He has shown up to two fires in shorts and flip flops handing water to the other firefighters. Yet he uses the new SUV for personal use and shows up at the annual Christmas parade, various restaurants in Lake City and various areas of Tampa.. And as such the Town’s insurance will be liable for a possible Auto Liability claim in the event he has a blackout or a workers’ compensation’ claim for Greene, since there is no paperwork and as long as he drives the vehicle whether work or personally he is covered for workers’ compensation.
The reason Rhett protects Andrew Greene is because his number one client is Andrew’s grandmother Ethen McGhin, so there is a clear conflict of interests and ethics. It all goes back to the conflict of interests between Rhett’s law practice who just happens to have as one of their biggest clients, Andrew’s grandmother Ethel McGhin Rhett won’t let any harm come to the boy because it affects him financially
If you want more proof on Andrew’s condition, we were told one should should look into Andrew’s use of sick leave at work. Some of these days may have been because he was sick but some them may have been to cover up his seizures and blackouts. Specifically days where Andrew may have come to work but then at some point in time had to go home sick
The members of the Fire Department on the night of the council meeting did not intend to resign but when Ms. Tebo did not provide the memo to Mr. Pittman in advance of the meeting so he could defend these allegations, the firefighters felt they would be treated the same. As members of the department, they felt that if Rhett Bullard and Stacy Tebo would do that to Chief Pittman, bringing up issues from many years ago, they felt they no longer had the support of their town officials.” The members decided that they had no other choice but to leave the department because if Ms. Tebo did it to two different chiefs and Rhett Bullard would not stand up for the department, who would be next?.
Pittman was the only chief that worked for in this town/department that stepped up to do the job to get everyone trained to hold meetings, family dinners, and events for the kids in this town. He stepped up when no one else would take a broken down department with little to nothing an bring it into the 21st century. The Town had no dedicated members before he took over. It is known first hand that previous members of the department did not show up for calls in the middle of the night during the day or even come wash a truck.
When Chief Pittman took over the fire department gained some of the best members any department could ask for. They showed up to calls cleaned and manned the station cleaned the trucks took care of the equipment. They gave a damn about this department and this town’s citizens.
The firefighters tried to give the best of the best to the town and we were constantly shut down by city hall.
We had the most members of any department in the county now this town is left with nothing but three even though the town manager stipulates there are seven firefighters. It doesn’t matter how many names you have on a piece of paper it matters on how many show up. How many show up in the middle of the night to help you. How many show up when you need them at your most critical times is what counts. So this list means nothing and holds no water when no one shows up.
“Just know we as members are sorry that we could not do more for this town but just know we gave it our best and we did, all we could do, with NO SUPPORT FROM THE TOWN OFFICIALS ie Stacy Tebo the town Mayor and two of the council members.”
Kevin Pittman was a certified Firefighter II, a medic, a hazmat tech and a fire inspector. He did not lie to her about everyone being certified as he stated to her that the firefighters have completed the required class of 206 hours and were awaiting the state certification at this time. The firefighters were aware that there was an issue with a signature and ll were aware that it was being worked on and it was taken care off.
Just know Chief Pittman did everything for this town. He was the only fire chief I have seen show up in the middle of the night for medical calls, fires, crashes, Landing zone set ups. He showed up. The firefighters said it was not the same for the previous chief or the assistant chief. Chief Pittman showed up when this town needed him; when this town needed a chief and a leader. He single handedly turned a broken run down untrained unstaffed department and turned it into a full on working staff and trained a loyal department no thanks to City Hall, Rhett Bullard or Stacy Tebo.
Mayor Bullard, Vice Mayor Tonja Brown and Councilor Willie Jefferson allowed Stacy Tebo to fix what was not broken. Now we technically do not have a fire department so in accordance with this ordinance, the Town better hire a third party fire agency because they are liable for this ordinance/contractual duty or bring Kevin Pittman back as Fire Chief and the fire fighters will follow
ORDINANCE #12-01 amends Section 5.06 of the Charter of the Town of White Springs as follows:
The Town of White Springs, Florida has the responsibility for providing fire protection services, whether by or through a White Springs Volunteer Fire Department or by and through an appropriate contractual relationship with a third party fire agency.
The Town Council shall have the sole discretion in determining the manner for providing fire protection services for the safety and well being of the citizens of White Springs, Florida. Nothing herein shall prevent the White Springs Volunteer Fire Department from assisting agencies as the need arises.
As the firefighters told me, the Town can lie that we have fire fighters, and make up some number or put in names from neighboring towns….but what matters is who shows up. The firefighters we had showed up and as volunteers were treated poorly. This was mainly because Rhett Bullard desired Andrew Greene to be fire chief or to remain as the Assistant Chief.
Regarding Mayor Bullard giving the second fire truck to Andrew Greene
for his personal use.
There are no Town Regulations regarding Staff personally using the fire trucks. At one time Tracy Rodriquenz was allowed to drive to and from Jacksonville and she was required to pay a portion of the fuel cost.
In the case of Andrew Greene, Helen Miller stopped the Town from purchasing a new Vehicle Pickup 4/4 so Andrew could travel back and forth to Gainesville. Since he was favored by Rhett Bullard and Pam Tomlinson, they were upset and a motion was made before the power of three could vote against Helen Miller’s motion.
Greene was of course upset with us as well and the fact that we reported him driving, I believe, the bush truck. He would display lights and sirens when coming by our house and would throw firecrackers at our Jeep and house along with one of his cousins. We had to report it to the police. Yet he used it as his personal toy to look like a valid firefighter.
Each case is decided on its own merits but only favored employees such as Tracy Rodriquenz and Andrew Greene have received this additional benefit by reason of Rhett Bullard and his power of three.
Attached is a letter written by Dr. Helen Miller who as a former mayor and councilor knows what our grants relating to the fire vehicles require and what has transpired to cause White Springs to lose our firefighters. She has a wealth of experience in the handling of Town Business.
This went to the Ethics Committee, along with the Jasper News Article when the reporters were fair and wrote the truth in the Jasper News without omission.
Karin Ann Griffin, CPCU