During a recent interview on Pix11, responding to Yonkers Fire Department saying the city of Mount Vernon is taking advantage of the Westchester County Mutual Aid Plan, Mayor Ernest D. Davis responds, “So when a fire happens in another community, instead of just shining cars or whatever they do, they are now coming over to help a city in that is in trouble,”
The Pix11 reporter responds, ‘I don’t know any firefighters who polish cars.”
Davis digs himself in further and adamantly states, “Do you know that they don’t”
Davis’ remarks on Pix11 have set in motion a host of replies from everyone including the Mayor of Yonkers, A former Yonkers Fire Dept Commissioner, the Yonkers Fire Department Union President, the Mount Vernon Fire Department Union President and even one of Davis’s most outspoken adversaries; Mount Vernon City Councilman Richard Thomas, just to name a few.
In response to what Thomas calls ‘an offensive and arrogant comment’ by Ernest Davis, during the WPIX Channel 11 News interview, Mt. Vernon City Councilman Richard Thomas demanded an immediate apology for calling New York Firefighters “Car Polishers,” and released a statement, which in part read:
“Shame on Ernie Davis for his lowbrow, disrespectful comment calling New York Firefighters ‘car polishers,’ insinuating that first responders do nothing and their lives do not matter,” said Councilman Thomas in his statement.
“Though Davis is in denial about abusing mutual aid, no one can deny his lack of leadership in keeping the public safe. By failing to properly staff and equip the Mt. Vernon Fire Department, Davis continues to demonstrate a complete disregard for human life, property, and taxpayer resources. Worse, his refusal to properly prepare risks the lives of both Mt. Vernon residents and neighboring first responders at the expense of out-of-city taxpayers and put countless families in harm’s way.”
The office of Yonkers Mayor Mike Spano also released a statement concerning the collaboration for mutual aid between neighboring Westchester cities.
“Mutual Aid acts as a safe guard for all fire departments and serves as a means of protection for our residents. Municipal fire departments should receive and give of it equally, as it’s intended.”
Former Yonkers Fire Department Commissioner Anthony Pagano said, “In my eyes it’s an abuse of mutual aid. Mutual aid is for a catastrophic situation,”
In the Pix11 piece, Ernie Richardson, the Mount Vernon Fire Department Union President, said that Mount Vernon is taking advantage of the agreement.
“Mount Vernon is not using it,” Richardson said. “They are abusing it, because there are things that are written that Mount Vernon is not following.”
When asked for specifics, Richardson quickly responded to Pix11 saying, “Such as the time frame of keeping a company in your city, back-filling and getting that company out. Mount Vernon never follows that part of the mutual aid agreement.”
“The mutual aid system was designed to enable communities to call upon each other in times of extreme need.” Councilman Thomas tells BW. “Mt. Vernon’s horrible habit of abusing this privilege must end with the Mayor acknowledging the vital and essential work that Firefighters and all emergency service personnel provide.”
Barry McGoey, president of the Yonkers Fire Department Union echoed Richardson’s sentiments.
“It’s costing thousands of dollars, but probably the most unconscionable part is the danger that the residents of Yonkers, as well as New Rochelle, Eastchester, Pelham and some other municipalities are put in because our fire sources, which our taxpayers pay for are being diverted to a city which refuses to pay for them which is Mount Vernon,” McGoey said.
We ran into McGoey, Thursday night at the Independence Party Fundraiser at Knollwood Country Club in Elmsford and officially extended an invitation for him to come on People Before Politics Radio Show and he stated that he loves Mount Vernon, the city, the residents and the Fire Department, he just doesn’t have any love for Mayor Davis. We will be following up to do an official interview with the Yonkers FD Union President as well as calling him this week to schedule a date for him to make an appearance on PBP Radio.
We will be reaching out to Mayor Davis as well to give him a chance to briefly respond to the onslaught he is receiving from his words in the Pix11 interview. One thing is for sure, his comments are not winning him any popularity contest as we go into the election season, where his mayoral seat is up for grabs. Especially with firefighters of NY and their families. Many in the city as well as the county, have said this incident is just further proof Mount Vernon could use a change in leadership to get the city back on the right track.
While Senator Ruth Hassell-Thompson and City Councilwoman Debra Reynolds are the only ones to have officially announce their candidacy, unofficially there are upward to seven candidates who may be tossing their hat in the upcoming mayoral race, including the outspoken councilman, Richard Thomas, who has been a thorn in the mayor side for a year or so demanding accountability and transparency.
“It is obvious that Mount Vernon Mayor Davis thinks the taxpayers of Yonkers are suckers,” Barry McGoey said in Lohud article two weeks ago.
In the same Lohud article Davis does concede his department relies on mutual aid, and must do so because it has more fires — 27 last year, he said — than most communities. But he said mutual aid calls are made judiciously in the spirit of what the program was meant to accomplish.
“The wisdom was ‘We know you’re not going to fight fires at the same time generally’ so you should be available (to help your neighbors),” Davis said.
“This is no laughing matter and the Mayor must apologize for his insensitive remark,” said Thomas.
“I stand with our bravest and urge all New York Firefighters to join me in demanding an immediate apology from Ernest Davis.”
“On behalf of the residents of Mt. Vernon, I want to confirm that the City overwhelmingly supports our emergency service personnel and respect them for who they are and the heroic work they do, by putting their lives on the line day in and day out. The isolated view by our current Mayor is embarrassing and I will continue to demand that he apologize to all, including the 2,000 plus Firefighters in New York State who have lost their life in the line of duty, whose names are inscribed at the ‘New York StateFallen Firefighters Monument’ in Albany, New York,” Thomas tells BW.