On the heels of the recent uproar surrounding the nascent exploration of MOFD merging with Contra Costa County Fire (“Confire”) that resulted from MOFD Director Greg Baitx placing the item on a recent board agenda at the behest of the firefighters union President (original story here), a newly-formed community group - Moraga-Orinda Citizens for Fire Safety - recently launched a petition seeking Baitx’s recusal from upcoming salary negotiations with the MOFD firefighters’ union.
The group cites Baitx’s membership in the local union as a firefighter himself with the East Contra Costa County fire district, the standard practice of “benchmarking” compensation of one fire district’s with others' during negotiations, and MOFD governing documents requiring a Director “shall be disqualified to vote on a matter by reason of actual or apparent conflict of interest.”
Beyond the legitimate concern of the dual or misplaced loyalties that came to light as a result of Baitx obliging the union president with an agenda item and staff report for something that was universally opposed by the community, our assessment is that Baitx clearly has an apparent conflict and would likely benefit in his own role as a union firefighter in the same union. Good governance requires that he should therefore recuse himself from negotiations and voting on the matter.
[Update: as of 6/15, the group informs us that approximately 1150 residents have signed the petition]