Over the last few weeks, there has been much debate over consistent comments made by Brentwood City Council Candidate Carissa Pillow who is suggesting firefighters stop responding to medical calls. This has resulted in many speaking out against her position while questioning her ability to be a leader in Brentwood.
What is troubling to me is she is turning a District problem into an idea for the City of Brentwood. Is her campaign focus ECCFPD or is it the City of Brentwood? The last time I checked, Brentwood does not have it’s own fire department. What is most troubling is Ms. Pillows is making statements prior to meeting with the fire experts–now she is sharing she has met with the experts but still is not apparently listening to them.
Rather than continue to defend a losing position, she simply could have issued a paragraph stating she misspoke and her assumptions were false. It could have been that simple and this nonsense would have stopped. Instead, she wont admit she was wrong and continues to defend her uninformed original statements that she provided at the ECCFPD Board Meeting.
I wanted to share the following “open letter” because it states beautifully how most of us feel having watched Ms. Pillows actions the last few weeks.
Dear Ms. Pillows,
While I appreciate your attempts to clarify, I would be remiss if I did not let you know I am concerned by your message and tone. You come across as thin skinned which would not serve you (or your future constituents) well, if you are ever elected to office.
To take this issue a step further it is important to know that Measure “S” failed for numerous reasons, beyond what you cited. Many voters chose to believe falsehoods that were being peddled by a few anti-tax zealots. Compounding matters, was the average citizen does not acknowledge the reality that they are currently paying far less local taxes due to decreased property values. The amount they are “saving” is coming directly out of the fire department’s operating budget and is the nexus which has created this current situation. We could debate the merits of why “Yes” on Measure “S” message did not resonate but in the end, the voters of East County will have to experience a costly lack of emergency service, until the climate changes for a future measure to pass.
It boils down to “perception” versus “reality” of how emergency services are delivered. For the most part only the Firefighters, EMS personnel, first responders, administrators, a few politicians, fire commissioners and victims of emergencies know those realities. Those that peddled the “No on S” message played on ignorance and “perception”….it was easy! This is why it is troubling when an elected official or someone seeking office falls for the perceptions or tries to reinvent the wheel. I’ll wager that this is why you have met with frustration from some of the fire personnel and individuals that have been actively engaged in this particular issue. There is a reason these individuals are experts in their fields, so when someone such as a taxpayer special interest group, lazy journalist, Johnny come lately or even the latest candidate tells them that they know better, they tend to be short. Explaining the obvious to the absurd over and over again might just explain and excuse their demeanor. Go easy on them Carissa, they have been attacked by idiots.
If you don’t think they realize that they are already campaigning then you should steer clear of politics. (hence your comment; “your next campaign has already begun”). They have been campaigning for years as part of their everyday public service on every call. Again Carissa, you are not really in a position to educate them-it is obvious you are new to politics, they are not.
As for your other comment; “I would also appreciate if you would STOP characterizing my constituents as “ignorant”, You should probably be aware that you have no “constituents” until the time that you are elected. Stating anything different only makes you look ignorant.
I for one appreciate that you are going to meetings, but just attending doesn’t make you an expert, just like standing in a garage doesn’t make you a mechanic. It is what you learn and how you inspire people to do what they do best. In many cases you have been standing among experts, I suggest you take advantage of that knowledge-not argue with it.
You mentioned “duplication of services” repetitively yet you fail to recognize that the directors of EMS and AMR both state, they rely on the fire department on all medicals. AMR is in the transport business-the fire department is not. According to Vince Wells (Con Fire), Leslie Mueller (AMR) and Pat Frost (County EMS) they are part of a cohesive TEAM when it comes to medical emergencies. You don’t need to look very far or attend many meetings to get that information. I ask you, how many times does it need to be explained. Candidates and voters have a responsibility in all of this. You just cannot keep asking the same question over and over hoping you will change the message!
In closing you stated that you “would appreciate not being completely discredited by the lot of you before you have a full understanding of what is going on in the district”. Based on what I have read here (and been informed by some of the individuals that you are butting heads with), you have made statements which have discredited your opinion because you did so even after having a full understanding and explanation. Therefore your quoted statement disqualifies itself on its merits and your past actions speak quite differently than the message you are trying to deliver here.
I actually cringed reading your exchange with Mr. Burkholder and Mr. Whitener. As a voter, I think it is you that needs to work on your delivery.
Carissa you may eventually make a fantastic city council member (Brentwood needs change) but so far you are making every rookie mistake in the book while trying to tell everyone else how to conduct their business. (You have no constituents unless you are elected!) Brentwood has developed a bad reputation of “not playing well with others” and it appears to be getting worse.
If you have a desire to change that “perception” your candidacy is an excellent place to start.
Here is a portion of the comments which this open letter was responding to. More of the background of this post can be found on an article I wrote on August 10 thanks to Ben Whitener for sharing his conversation.
On August 10, as the debate was in full swing (polite I might add), Ms. Pillows issued the following statement:
Because of the past very passionate and heated conversations that have been demonstrated in the past in these forums, I regret to say that I will not participate in this dialogue online. I will happily schedule a meeting with any Brentwood resident who would like to share their concerns with me one on one or in a group. My email address is: [email protected] Feel free to email me and I will make time in my schedule. Have a wonderful weekend, folks!
This is stunning because she cut off a debate which she engaged, suggested we make an appointment if we wanted to talk more. I have news for Ms. Pillows, candidates seek out voters, not the other way around.
Ultimately, she returned to the debate on August 15 to issue the following statements again:
Logan, Ben, Mike, John, Brandon n Christi, Peter, Christine, Sam, Keith, Jared, Rikky, Robert, Joe, Jennifer, Ryan, Bob, Kathy, Jane, Andrea and Sarah: I want to clear up a few misconceptions in this thread. I hear and see that you are all very passionate about fire service in the East Contra Costa County District. I have been reluctant to post further information on my position, as I have been doing due diligence in learning the complexities of the Fire District and the role that the Fire District plays in health care. I have spoken with at least 50 people within my constituency to get a wide spread feel for why measure S failed. I campaigned for “Yes on S” because I agree that we need revenue that was lost when all of our homes were devalued by the Tax Assessor’s office. I voiced PERCIEVED duplications of service in the public after the campaign was finished, as I believe that is one of the sticking points that caused our campaign to fail. I suggested to stop arriving at low level calls BECAUSE that is where the public is seeing the duplication.
I met with Vince Wells today for a lengthy meeting to get clarification on this issue and discuss how to make a future campaign successful. We won’t be having an elected board in East Contra Costa County District because the elections cost more than the district can afford. I brought up the idea of an appointed citizens board because I felt that the Board in place doesn’t work together well due to their interest in protecting their individual cities. There are clearly personalities on the present board that do not see eye to eye.
Yes I have a libertarian background. However, I don’t follow party line on this issue because I believe that when you keep taxes local, the responsible districts can be held accountable for their decisions. The further that money flows away, the less accountable any district is to the decisions they make with the money. The discussion I was having with Ben, that he diverted me from was a discussion on the areas where a future campaign could succeed. I also wanted to relay to Gil the information that I had gathered so that he would have the tools he needed to succeed. Whether you all are aware of this or not, your next campaign has already begun. It is crucial that the messages you provide the public are clear, optimistic and POLITELY rebuff any “Yeah but” that you receive.
It then proceeded into the following comments in a matter of minutes.
Today, I met with Vince Wells, whom I should have met with first.
It would have been helpful if one of you very well intentioned folks had directed me there, politely, first.
I found Vince Wells information to be very helpful. I am actively working with Vince to learn more about the District and how I can help give the right information with my campaign. I want to be clear on this: I support Fire. I absolutely see the need for Fire Service and I am beginning to understand the current service delivery model. I have no “shady” agenda. I am not interested in undermining Professional Fire Fighters or frankly any profession to which I do not belong. My desire is to support and protect my area and the people that I will hopefully serve. Ben, you took me on like an out of control dog going after a piece of meat. It is very hard to educate myself when I perceive you attacking me as I extend my hand to help you. If you had asked me to meet with you, or made any attempt to contact me before you bashed me behind my back on this forum, I would have happily met with you to discuss your ideas. Instead you blind sighted me, which really made it very difficult to research further.
I will issue a public statement about Fire Service as soon as I finish my education in this topic. I will work closely with Vince to make 100% certain I understand the perspectives of the whole group. I don’t mean to “leave you hanging”, but is important that the words I speak are accurate and supportive. I am neither shady, nor ignorant, nor narrow minded. I think that no one has ever accused me of such things in my life. I support Fire Services, I campaigned for “Yes on S” and I would appreciate not being completely discredited by the lot of you before I have a full understanding of what is going on in this District.
Note: she should never have issued her many statements prior to meeting with Vince Wells or not fully understanding the issue.
I would appreciate if you would STOP characterizing my constituents as “ignorant”. I appeal to you that this does not cast a good light on the fire services that you provide and it really leaves a sour taste in the mouths of the people you serve. You need to have a unified, clear, repeating response that is considerate of the people that you are trying to sway. There is no place for negativity in a campaign of any kind, including yours.
Thank you for giving me this opportunity to hear your opinions. Please give me time to work on a statement that is supportive of your efforts.
I politely made the comment, So its the other guys fault you did not seek out Vince Wells before making your comments and opinions heard?
No Mike, it is not any one’s fault but my own. I didn’t say that it was. I said that it would have been nice to have this articulate expert explaining the full extent of the complexities. I find that there are people who help others by directing them to the most qualified people in the field. I also find that there are people who distort the message by using bully tactics to “support” the group. In a campaign for a tax, bully tactics do not work. They only turn off the people who are making the decision whether to support or not support the tax. I would recommend that your group use more carrot and less stick in the way that handle public relations.
That was intended as constructive, and concerned criticism. I only wish for the Fire District’s success.
I stated the following: I thought Jeff Burris and Brian Helmick laid it out pretty good at Black Bear for you. With that said, I wish you luck in your race and finding out more details on fire, however, as a Brentwood candidate, fire is not your issue you should be focusing on.
I’m glad that you thought that. Unfortunately, the person that needed to think that was me. What I saw at the Black Bear were two men under a great deal of duress who were unable to dispel the perception of duplication of service. As I just said, I will be spending a few more sessions with Vince that will hopefully speak to my constituents concerns. I would appreciate being given the time that I need to do that. Mike, up to this point, have you seen any other candidate appear at the Fire Board Meetings in hopes of learning what these issues are? And why might that be? What candidate went out of their way to bother to learn the issues? Why might that be? Have you seen a candidate making efforts to help the district? Do you see this candidate as anything other than concerned and caring for our Fire District? If you have, let me know. I will revise any perceived ill will, because I care about this issue. It matters. It matters a lot. It’s not something I’m trying to turn into a campaign issue. The Fire District is just something that I care about seeing through to success.
So there you have it, she thinks Jeff Burris and Brian Helmick were under duress as they were explaining to her the whole EMS response plan and why fire should continue responding to medicals. Let me break this down for everyone, and Bob Mankin can back me up on this, both Mr. Burris and Mr. Helmick spoke very slowly so she could understand and were not under any such duress as she claims.
Based off her actions on the fire issue and how flustered she has apparently become, it makes me curious about the type of change her “fresh perspective” will bring to Brentwood. If it turns out like the fire debate has become, Brentwood is in some serious trouble.