By Michael Petrelis
The San Francisco Fire Commission met yesterday afternoon for a regularly scheduled meeting and I was there for a few reasons, starting with verbally protesting how Chief Joanne Hayes-White's performance would be discussed out of public view.
As you may know, she's been under withering criticism from Supervisor London Breed, a former member of the fire commission, members of the firefighters union and its bosses, and ambulance workers and their parent companies over issues such as long response time for EMT vehicles.
However, Mayor Ed Lee has stood by Hayes-White and has given no indication that he's unsatisfied with her leadership and several women in leadership positions at City Hall have come to her defense.
During public comment about Hayes-White's report to the commission, I protested the closed-door evaluation that would happen at the end of the meeting and stated it was a huge disservice to the taxpayers, the general public and the safety of citizens to conduct the evaluation out of public view.
I mentioned that she's faced a pitchfork brigade and a trial by fire, no pun intended, in the media, and that I wanted facts unfiltered about her leadership protecting the public from fires and solving the ambulance response time crisis.
Even though the job evaluation would be behind closed-doors, I still requested a summary be issued to the public about what transpired in the session. I also distributed my #VotePetrelis campaign cards to folks.
How the heck are we taxpayers supposed to fairly judge Hayes-White's performance if we don't have access to the information and details presented to and debated by the fire commission? Yes, I understand privacy protections for public employees, but when that employee is responsible for a vast portion of public safety a way must be found to provide some degree of transparency to the public.
The fire commission owes everyone additional data about the job performance and evaluation of the chief.