After shockingly disparaging residents with disabilities earlier this year, New Bedford City Councilor Linda Morad couldn’t help herself but to snidely insult yet another seemingly impossible-to-criticize group of local residents: the men and women of the New Bedford Fire Department, who have been working nonstop to keep the city from being reduced to cinder. 

When the motion was put forward at Thursday’s City Council meeting by Councilor Brian Gomes to oppose the closure of Engine 8 at the North End fire station, every city councilor with the exception of Morad cosigned in support. Councilor Morad has also been on the record voting against a similar motion in August.

Several concerns were raised by other members of the council during Thursday's meeting, including concerns about the replacement apparatus for Engine 8, known as a quint, which the firefighters union has said cannot effectively respond to emergency calls in the city.

This is how Councilor Morad responded:

“I hear the conversation about the quint, I hear the rumors about the quint, etc. But the bottom line is we have to find the money to keep that station operating, to pay the men and women that are supposedly working on those fire trucks to keep public safety.”

"Supposedly" is a word that is normally intentionally used to indicate that the speaker doubts the truth of the statement. Councilor Morad seems to suggest that she doesn’t believe city firefighters are actually working. Her negative perception of their work ethic becomes more clear when you consider her suggestion immediately after that the fire department is taking too much overtime.

“Overtime through December in the Fire Department is a million one. That’s a lot of money," Morad said, and goes on to say the overtime budget is a concern of hers at the closing of her first statement, and mentioning it several more times in her second statement.

You can see her full statement at the 1:17:36 mark of the recording of the meeting. 

What Councilor Morad hasn’t considered is perhaps the reason that the overtime figure is high for her liking is that the men and women of the New Bedford Fire Department have been dealing with an extraordinarily high volume of fires with ever-depleting resources. The overtime figure that Councilor Morad griped about includes the massive Thanksgiving Day fire that engulfed multiple homes and left at least 27 residents displaced.

Would Councilor Morad have preferred that the fire department had concentrated fewer resources on the fire and risk it spreading for the sake of less overtime pay? Or does she prefer that firefighters not receive just compensation after many left their families on Thanksgiving to risk their lives and contain the blaze?

Late in the discussion, Morad decided she would support the motion but on the condition that its scope was substantially limited to only support the operation of Engine 8 through the end of the fiscal year, which is approximately five months from now. Councilor Gomes agreed to amend and limit the motion to Morad's liking in the interest that the city council finally have united support for the fire department. 

It’s unfortunate that before dragging her feet to be the last councilor on the record to offer that support, Morad attempted to give legitimacy to the old trope that firefighters don’t really work.

The people of the New Bedford Fire Department put a great deal on the line to ensure the safety of city residents. They work hard. "Supposedly working,” however, is the meal ticket of a city councilor who is publicly annoyed with accommodations being made for residents with disabilities, who seems to suggest that firefighters are lazy and overpaid, and who cracks jokes on the record about saying "no" at every meeting. 

Marcus Ferro is the host of The Marcus Ferro Show airing Saturdays on 1420 WBSM from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Contact him at marcusferrolaw@gmail.com. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.

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