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The IAFF and Harold Schaitberger
By: Dan Schrader Ex-IAFF member
First, let me say welcome to the Firefightersforbush web site. The site administrators have done a fine job of putting together a site for the nations firefighters that support President Bush and his leadership over the last 3 ½ years.
Part 1 of a series of articles I intend to write for the site concerning the
IAFF’s Harold Schaitberger, and the extreme form of politics he and the
executive committee are playing. These will not be “Bash Kerry” articles. I was
a member of the IAFF for over 26 years, having just resigned my membership on
In the 2000 election President Schaitberger and the IAFF executive committee endorsed the candidacy of Al Gore before he was even the nominee of the Democratic party. His loss to George W. Bush came as a big blow to Schaitberger, and of course the “selected not elected” crowd.
Then came the tragedy of
The rising popularity of President Bush for his handling of the WTC attacks, and taking the war to the terrorists gave Harold Schaitberger a HUGE problem. He knew that many of the nation’s union firefighter’s supported the President, BUT he had sold out the IAFF and had promised the Democrats that he WOULD deliver the firefighters on a silver platter for the 2004 presidential election. He needed to find a way to knock the President off his pedestal in the eyes of the nation’s firefighters. His first opportunity came at the 2002 IAFF convention. President Bush was not invited to the convention, but sent a videotape praising the nation’s firefighters. Who WAS invited to speak at the convention was Senator Tom Daschle.
What would happen at this convention was just the first of many of the dishonest representations made by Harold Schaitberger so he could deliver on his promise to the Democrats.
A day earlier, President Bush had vetoed a bill sent up from the Congress. The “price tag”on this bill was around $5.1 BILLION dollars. This bill had originally had a “price tag” of much less. It contained a measure that would provide around $350 million dollars to assist firefighters with health monitoring and other training/equipment issues. Now, read the numbers carefully……….that is $350 million dollars out of $5.1 BILLION, around 6 percent of the total spending. The rest of the spending was unrelated to firefighters. There were those in the House and Senate (mostly Democrats) who saw two opportunities when this bill was being debated. They started adding a bunch of their own pork projects onto the original bill, thinking that Bush would have to go along with them. And if Bush went through with his threatened veto (after seeing the bill flooded with pork), they could use it against him politically……..i.e; Bush doesn’t care about this issue, Bush doesn’t care about that issue, AND Bush doesn’t care about firefighters. Bush followed through with his veto, asking Congress to strip out the pork projects (NOT the firefighter funding), and then he would gladly sign the bill. He expected some fiscal responsibility. As expected, President Bush was immediately attacked.
The first of those to attack was none other than Harold Schaitberger. At the convention he, along with Senator Daschle, whipped the attendees into a frenzy by telling them that President Bush had just CUT $350 million of funding for firefighters. He had them believing that a bill went across the President’s desk just for funding for firefighters, and that he had axed it. He knew at the time that this was not true. But he also knew the firefighters at the convention didn’t understand the real story. Schaitberger said
Don’t lionize our fallen brothers in one breath and then stab us in the back by eliminating funding for our
members to fight terrorism and stay safe.” - - But he had accomplished what he had wanted to do with his dishonesty. The convention then went immediately vote to boycott President Bush at the memorial for fallen firefighters that was coming up in October. Then they wanted to send the videotape that the President had sent to the convention back to the White House. Then Schaitberger ran to send to the media the fact that the IAFF had voted to boycott Bush at the memorial. Of course it got lots of play, and Harold was a happy man.
Since that time President Bush and his administration have initiated and agreed to many BILLIONS of dollars for first responder funding., but of course none of this is enough for Schaitberger. He will continue to tell his members that Bush has abandoned them, and the real shame of it is, many of them will blindly believe him.
Coming: Part 2: Harold makes good on his promise…..