Law school professors are notorious for coming up with strange fact patterns to use on final exams. However, I find that real life in the fire service can top even the best hypothetic questions a law school professor can dream up.
Take the law suit filed by the La Marque (Texas) Firefighters union last week against the city of La Marque, and Mayor Pro Tem Keith Bell. Sounds pretty typical so far, right? There aren’t many places I am aware of that a suit between the firefighters and the city could be considered unusual. The interesting thing is that Mayor Pro Tem Bell is a firefighter in Galveston. One would think that, in and of itself, would be a good thing, right? I mean, isn’t it every firefighter’s dream to have a politician who “get’s it”, who knows what it’s like to be a firefighter, slogging it out day after day in the danger zone?
To understand the story – and get to the rest of the crazy law school exam worthy fact pattern – we have to go back to last summer (August 10th to be exact), when Bell was supposed to be at work in Galveston, but instead got someone to substitute for him so he could attend a contentious council meeting in La Marque. As the newspaper reported it, Bell was quite vocal at the meeting about a number of fire department issues including the high cost of a new apparatus, the number of firefighters off on injury leave, and the need for “a review of the fire department budget to make sure spending was in control.” The newspaper even quoted him as saying: “Those guys are trying to rob the city of La Marque.” So much for a brother union member. Oh yes, one more detail, Bell was wearing his Galveston uniform shirt at the time.