Firefighters Accuse Mayor of Insults, Bullying
"He said all the guys at the firehouse were sons of bitches and assholes."
Months, and maybe longer, of alleged derogatory comments toward members of the Bellevue-Dayton Fire Department from the mouth of Dayton Mayor Ken Rankle were the topic of a lengthy meeting of he cities' joint fire board.
Fire Chief Michael Auteri read to the board a pair of letters submitted by firefighters detailing some of the allegations. Mark Tumler, a volunteer firefighter, wrote that Rankle used derogatory comments after the cities' Memorial Day Parade when Tumler was tasked with helping to clean the streets. Rankle, according to Tumler, wanted to know why a pick-up truck was being used instead of a fire truck. "I told him that Capt. (Jim) Richmond sent me down in the pick-up truck because he thought the pick-up truck and hoses would work better," Tumler wrote. "Mayor Rankle stated that 'he's a cocksucker' and 'that's them playing games again'."
"Mayor Rankle proceeded to inform me that when I needed help from the Housing Board a while ago, he was the one who made sure that me and my family got what we needed," Tumler continued. "This came out of nowhere and he sounded like he was holding my residence over my head. I was very uncomfortable because I felt that he was trying to manipulate me. He didn't say anything for a while after that."
Rankle is on vacation and does not return until Monday. A phone call to his mobile late Thursday evening has not been returned. (This story will be updated if and when Rankle responds.) The mayor faces reelection this year against City Councilman and Fire Board Chairman Virgil Boruske. The cities' merged fire department is governed by an independent board with six members made up of two council members and a citizen from each city.
Chief Auteri said that members of his department were told by the mayor that if they support Auteri, he would try to get them fired or to mess with their pensions. "It's affecting morale and started shortly after I took over," Auteri said. "I explained at the time, to the administration there and the mayor, our salaries aren't up there with Newport, Ft. Thomas, Covington, so we need to be creative in finding ways to keep our firefighters."
The chief said the mayor calls them lazy firemen and says he has trouble paying them while they sleep. "I say, just put it in writing. It's been going on for two years," Auteri said.
Firefighter Chuck Enzweiler spoke to the board. "In my thirty-three years of serving residents of Bellevue-Dayton, I have never been so publicly disrespected as I have been by the mayor of Dayton," he said. "I don't care about what he thinks about me, what he says about me, as long as he says it about a personal resident of Dayton. What I do care about is what he says about the department."
Enzweiller accused Rankle of keeping a black list. "If you're not supporters, supporters are not supposed to talk to them," he said. "I know (Dayton Councilman) Bill Burns is on the list. "Why's it gotta be personal? Why does my name have to come up? Half of what comes out the man's mouth is false. It's not truth. He could say it's sunshine right now and I'd have to look out."
"The department is strong. I'm tired of the personal attacks, mentioning my name. I don't do it to him. I disagree with most of the stuff he does and says but I don't personally attack him. I'm not an attorney but if this don't stop, I may seek the advice of one."