Voter looks for the 'servant' in public servant
April 27, 2005 - To the editor:
When I went to my polling place on Tuesday, April 5, I was greeted outside by a Mehlville firefighter soliciting my support for O'Driscoll and Gralike.
I told him I intended to vote for Hilmer and Stegman primarily because of the disproportionately high personnel benefits and wages being paid to Mehlville fire district employees — well-documented last fall in a local daily newspaper.
I reminded him that firemen are public servants and that it is not customary to pay public servants such high wages and benefits — wages and benefits, by the way, that far exceed that of our St. Louis County Police personnel who are also public servants and are engaged in a dangerous profession.
He told me, "If you vote for those guys (Hilmer and Stegman) your services are going to be cut."
I asked him why. He said, "Because they want to rollback the tax increase and that means less services for the citizens."
I asked him why he thought services would be the first thing to go and not wage and benefit concessions. He basically told me that the union has worked hard to get them where they are and that a freeze or concession of wages and benefits is unthinkable.
Where is the "servant" in public servant? And how is the public — taxpayers — served by union representation of public employees?
In his book "Servant Leader,'' Ken Blan-chard says, "One of the quickest ways you can tell the difference between a servant leader and a self-serving leader is how they handle feedback, because one of the biggest fears that self-serving leaders have is to lose their position or their status."
The voters gave the public servants their feedback by voting in Hilmer and Steg-man.
This election cost Hilmer the back window of his vehicle.
If the difference between a servant leader and self-serving leader is how they handle feedback, what does that say about our public servant firefighters?