Letters to the Editor

Fire commissioner says Jerry Galland spreads lies and innuendo | Election letters

Jerry Galland, a candidate for the South King Fire and Rescue board of commissioners, as seen at the Federal Way Farmers Market in August. - Mirror file
Jerry Galland, a candidate for the South King Fire and Rescue board of commissioners, as seen at the Federal Way Farmers Market in August.
— image credit: Mirror file

I have humbly served this community for many years via many boards and commissions.

For the last 12 years, I have proudly served as a fire commissioner, and board chair, for South King Fire and Rescue. The 2013 election campaign, of which I am currently involved, has been the worst ever, filled with lies and innuendo about me and members of our organization.

Let this serve to set the record straight regarding several of the claims made by my opponent. I cannot address all of the claims as there are too many that have been erroneously thrown out into the public:

• Public records requests: Jerry Galland, my opponent, has made more than 150 public records requests of the fire district over the past several years. He distorts and twists the information received into fabricated stories, filled with assumptions and innuendo. The public deserves to know the truth, which does not come from my opponent.

• Class 2 rating: I am so very proud of the fact that our fire district is the only one in the state to have achieved a Class 2 insurance rating, which represents the best in the state. This took a great deal of work on behalf of every department member. Jerry Galland has done nothing to help us retain this rating.

• Eleven straight clean audits: We have achieved 11 straight years with clean audits through the state auditor's office. Jerry Galland has filed numerous "hot line" complaints with the auditor's office about our financial practices, all of which have been investigated and dismissed by the state auditors as being without merit. Further, the state auditor's office has been harassed by Jerry Galland, and only responds to him in a manner as prescribed by law.

• Excess levy funds: Jerry Galland has repeatedly published that the fire district only hired two firefighters with our recently approved excess levy funds. The truth is that the district hired 17 firefighters in 2013, utilizing funds from both the excess levy and approved federal SAFER Grant funds. We re-opened an aid car (Aid 64 located on 320th Street and 37 Avenue South) on July 15, 2013, with these newly hired firefighters. The aid car had previously been closed during the Great Recession. All of this was completed in light of the fire district losing nearly 30 percent of its operating revenue since 2009. Jerry Galland has continually worked against the funding of the district, as well as opposing and working against the de-annexation of a taxing district overlap area, which would have cost the district an additional $5 million in lost revenue.

• The fire chief's son: Jerry Galland has repeatedly published that the fire chief's son was found guilty of breaking the law. He is wrong and this is a lie. Jerry Galland filed a complaint against the fire chief's son, who is a firefighter with the district, with the Department of Health in a self-serving political move. The Department of Health has to investigate this complaint, even if it is false. The Board of Fire Commissioners, with input from legal counsel, approved hiring an outside attorney to support our employee by a 4-1 vote (the lone outstanding vote is a supporter of Galland). We will support any and all employees when a meritless accusation is made.

• New training center: The fire district is planning for the long-term needs of the community through well trained and prepared firefighters. Part and parcel to this is the eventual development of a new training center, and emergency operations center, on South 320th Street at approximately 37 Avenue South. This center will eventually be built when the time and the economy are right, with the plans brought forward for community input and a public vote (plans which Jerry Galland has already seen). Jerry Galland states that we wasted taxpayer money in purchasing the land and that we will never build this center, which is another outright falsehood.

• False police reports: Jerry Galland actually called 911 to file police reports against two of your fire commissioners for what he characterized as "misuse of public funds." These reports were investigated and dismissed as being totally without merit and a waste of your police department's time and effort.

• Fire chief's severance package: Jerry Galland claims that the fire chief receives $340,000 if he gets fired by the district. This is a lie. The fire chief, like all CEOs of multimillion-dollar organizations, is entitled to a severance package should the fire district simply eliminate his position. He receives absolutely nothing if he is fired with cause. Again, this shows how Jerry Galland distorts the truth, even though he has a copy of the chief's contract obtained via one of his numerous public records requests.

• Firearms at public meetings: I readily admit that as chairman of the board, I was not supportive of having an armed militia coming in to commissioner meetings. Based upon our legal counsel's input, we were directed to oppose allowing individuals to come to meetings fully armed. However, we backed off this position after receiving public input and not wanting to waste taxpayer dollars in order to fight the issue of safety for our citizens. The right to bear arms is protected under the Constitution; however, we wanted to ensure a safe haven for citizens to attend our meetings as all fire stations are supposed to be safe places to bring children, infants and other family members. Jerry Galland does not care about anyone else's opinion, as he only sought to ensure that he and others could carry firearms into meetings.

The truth is out there, only do not look to Jerry Galland to get it. He simply does not know what the truth really looks like.

William "Bill" Gates, Chairman of the Board, South King Fire and Rescue


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