Last week FOP Lodge #9 in Franklin County withdrew its endorsement of Senator Bacon because of his support for Senate Bill 5.
We sat down with the President of FOP Lodge #9 Jim Gilbert to discuss the decision to withdraw the endorsement and about SB5 in general. Jim was fired up about the issue and shared a great deal of information and insight with us. This post covers the first part of the interview.
We started off the conversation talking about Senator Bacon and Jim reiterated the fact that during the interview process for their endorsement Senator Bacon “emphatically said binding arbitration is very important” and yet, once he took office he immediately began working to eliminate binding arbitration. “He was dishonest with us.”
By withdrawing the endorsement, Jim made it clear that he plans to hold all politicians accountable for their actions. “You can’t just come in and tell us one thing thinking that we’re just going to take your word for it”, he said. “I think [rescinding the endorsement] sends a direct message to the politicians—holy shit, you better watch what you say to the police because they’re going to turn around and … take it public.”
Bacon most assuredly has lost any and all support from the FOP in the future. And based on Jim statements, a lot of Republican politicians will find themselves in the same boat. Many police officers who have been long time Republican voters are fired up over SB5 and will be voting for Democrats in the next election based entirely on this one issue.
And the effects may even last longer than that. By lying during the endorsement interviews candidates like Bacon have not only lost their next round of endorsements from the FOP and other groups – but they have also lost their trust. “Citizens need to know that if he’s going to tell a police group that he supports us and he’s being untruthful with us, how untruthful is he being to the public on other issues. ”
Jim also volunteered one additional story that I thought was very telling, and it involved Franklin County Commissioner Marilyn Brown. According to Jim, the FOP endorsed Marilyn’s opponent in the last election but in recent weeks Ms. Brown “has stepped up and … she’s come to us and said I stand next to policemen and firemen in supporting your rights to collectively bargain. She’s a Democrat that did not get our endorsement and she’s still standing with us because she knows that it’s the right thing to be doing. And honestly, my membership is going to obviously remember those politicians.”
Senate Bill 5 has forced Ohio’s politicians to take sides, and the majority of Republicans have absolutely chosen the wrong one. No one wants to be seen as opposing law enforcement and public safety – it looks really bad on election day. As Jim points out politicians “all want to stand around when a cop gets shot or a fireman gets seriously injured and get their picture taken, and talk about the great things that policemen and firemen do. But on a normal day like today they are against, they are against police officers and firefighters.”
The hard working men and women who put their lives on the line every day to protect their fellow Ohioans deserve better than this and politicians from either party who support SB5 and its attacks on public safety unions – especially the ones who straight-up lied during their endorsement interviews – deserve to be voted out of office. If Jim Gilbert and the FOP have anything to with it, that’s exactly what’s going to happen in 2012.
We’ve included a transcript of the full interview below.
Joseph: This is Joe and Eric here from Plunderbund. We’ve got Jim Gilbert. He’s president of FOP Lodge 9 in Columbus. And we’re going to ask a couple of questions, Jim, if you don’t mind about Senate Bill 5, about the upcoming budget potentially. So you guys received a lot of attention recently because you pulled your endorsement of a state senator.
Jim: That’s correct. That’s the first time, that’s the first time in our history that we’ve done that.
Joseph: So it’s like, we understand it’s a little risky ****. I wonder if you could give us a little background and I mean partly why endorse someone to begin with and then what led up to your pulling of the endorsement.
Jim: Well, just to recap, the whole thing about a political endorsement on our part is that we are sending a message to the citizens of Ohio that police officers have listened and interviewed, interviewed and listened to the person coming in front of us for whatever the political office is. And that we are basically putting our stamp of approval that they are honest; that they are the best candidate for the position; and that they’re looking out for not only what law enforcement needs are but also for the needs of the Ohio citizens, and we find it, we hold it near and dear to us. And most politicians definitely want to have the availability to tell the public, hey look, if you don’t, you know, you don’t listen, if you don’t trust me on what I’m saying, look, I’ve said the same thing or I’ve gave indications to this organization or the Fraternal Order of Police, they’re police officers, and they support and back me. So I mean it’s very, it’s a coveted endorsement.
Jim: So we basically endorsed Senator Bacon and many of the other, many of the other politicians this last time around. We interviewed him. We interviewed him and we asked him, you know, what is your stance on collective bargaining? Do you think that law enforcement, fire firefighters, and public safety unions should still be able to have binding arbitration so that we can effectively go out and continue to do our job on a professional level at the same time we’re trying to negotiate what’s best practices, as well as wages and benefits with our employer? And they said yes. He emphatically said binding arbitration is very important. We need to make sure the policemen and firemen are out there still on the streets and not worrying about what their unions are doing with the employer. And, you know, we think that you have a right to still collectively bargain for your members.
And clearly, with indications we got from public statements, private statements to us, that he does not support collective bargaining and that he was dishonest with us. And, you know, we want to send a direct message to let every politician know that, you know, you can’t just come in and tell us one thing thinking that we’re just going to take your word for it, and then your actions show differently. And the citizens need to know that if he’s going to tell a police group that he supports us and he’s being untruthful with us, how untruthful is he being to the public on other issues.
Joseph: Absolutely, yeah. Do you think in the future, I mean it sounds like you guys had a pretty thorough and complete assessment process you already went through. I’m just going to wonder if you think anything will change in 2012 when you do your endorsements then.
Jim: I think definitely. And the reason I know that it’s going to change is because we’re, through us rescinding our endorsement I think it sends a direct message to the politicians—holy shit, you better watch what you say to the police because they’re going to turn around and, you know, they’re not going to keep it private, they’re going to take it public. And rightfully so. I mean, you know, and the firefighters just did the same thing. I mean you’re not going to come in and tell an organization, because whether you want to believe it or not we’re taxpayers as well; we’re citizens as well. So police professionals we are, but at the same time we’re going to hold them accountable, hold them responsible for their statements and their actions after they make their statements.
Joseph: Absolutely true. And I think that’s, it’s a pretty bold move on your part. I mean, but you guys got to go out and defend your own self-interest, and if somebody comes in front of you and lies it’s…
Jim: Well, I’ll give you a good example. Here’s a great example for you guys just to know. We did not endorse Commissioner Brown this time around. We did not endorse her. We thought that [Julie Huber] was a lady that was running against her was a better quality candidate. This just goes to show how fair the process is. Marilyn Brown, the Commissioner of Franklin County, did not get our endorsement. But she has stepped up and she has come to the citizens, she’s come to us and said I stand next to policemen and firemen in supporting your rights to collectively bargain. She’s a Democrat that did not get our endorsement and she’s still standing with us because she knows that it’s the right thing to be doing. And honestly, my membership is going to obviously remember those politicians.
I mean the funny thing about politicians is, and please hit on this if you can, they all want to stand around when a cop gets shot or a fireman gets seriously injured and get their picture taken, and talk about the great things that policemen and firemen do. But on a normal day like today they are against, they are against police officers and firefighters. And you know what, I think what’s going to be very ironic is this year’s coming up on the tenth anniversary of 911, and every politician’s going to want to stand there and shake our hands and be seen next to policemen and firemen talking about their heroic actions ten years ago of policemen and firemen all over this United States, and in DC, and at the Pentagon, and the World Trade Center towers. And yet, you know, here they are behind the scenes trying to take away our rightful, our benefits, our families’ rights to make sure that we have a decent wage and that we have protections.
Joseph: That’s a really great point actually. I hadn’t thought to ask that but yeah, that’s a really great point.
Jim: I also want, I also want to share this. I told Mike Duffy this morning—I had a meeting with Representative Duffy. Quit comparing policemen and firemen to the private sector. We don’t, there is no comparison. Forty-two policemen this year have given their lives in the line of duty. We just had two policemen killed yesterday in Virginia. So 42 police officers have given their lives throughout the United States. How many politicians do you know that given their lives in their line of duty back to the citizens—none. And the type of job that we do is totally different. And I told Duffy this, if shots were fired right now into right center on the floor that we’re on, while you’re underneath your desk I’m taking my gun out and I’m going to see where that person is and I’m going to do everything I can to save lives. You’re paying me a decent wage so that I can continue to put food on my table, family’s table; the same time you’re paying me and compensating me for what I’m prepared and what I’m trained to go do, not necessarily what I’m doing right now. And that’s the truth.