Thursday, May 7, 2009

A Union Invades Republican Collin County

The Plano Firefighters Association (one of them union things that Republicans hate so much) has growing political clout Plano politics. Firefighter unions have long advocated for candidates in recent local elections in Arlington, Dallas, Irving and Mesquite. A Fort Worth association spent more than $700,000 into last year's elections, records show.

The Plano Firefighters Association is making its influence felt in the May 9, 2009 Plano city election by endorsing candidates and supporting bond proposition #1 on the city ballot.

Long dominated by Republican leaning high growth real estate development interests, new constituencies are slowly taking over as the real estate developers lose interest in using their influence to sway local politics to their favor, now that Plano is all but fully developed. The rise of Plano's Firefighter Association is another indication the city undergoing a political shift in the progressive direction.

While the firefighter association does not have collective bargaining power, it is making its influence felt. Since forming a political action committee in 2003, the Plano association has put more than $75,000 into city campaigns, more than any other interest group, endorsing candidates and mailing advocacy literature to voters. The association pays for its political activities with donations, not dues.

A recent Dallas Morning News article reports:
"I admire the firefighters. But the association is taking it a step further and influencing people with money," said Susan Plonka, a council candidate. "To say they have to pay us $20,000 to get a phone call returned is not accurate."

The association, which recently endorsed Plonka's opponent, Ben Harris, for the Place 2 council seat, does not see it that way.

"We don't feel like our side has been told a lot of times in the past," said Scott Kerr, the association president. "But ultimately the decision is [the City Council's]. And we respect that."
From The City of Plano's 2009 Bond Referendum Pamphlet:
  1. Totals $11,368,000 and is for Public Safety Improvements in the City of Plano. This proposition includes funding for the reconfiguration, remodel and expansion of existing fire facilities; an additional $1 million for the construction of one new fire station (#13); the purchase of firefighting equipment and apparatus; and the purchase and installation of video surveillance apparatus in various City-owned areas in the City of Plano.

No comments:

Post a Comment