LETTER: Firefighters’ Ads Criticizing Rehberg Hypocritical

By Beacon Staff

There are a number of televised political ads by unionized Billings firefighters taking Congressman Denny Rehberg to task for suing their city, not for money but in an effort to change policy between the fire department and property owners. They allege that the cost of defending this lawsuit, which Rehberg dropped, cost Billings taxpayers money that could have been better spent elsewhere – e.g. for their salaries and fringe benefit packages.

Using a search engine one can find at least five recent instances where these same firefighters have successfully sued their own employer, the city of Billings for millions of dollars. In just one case, 63 firefighters split $3,035,590 ($48,184 each). Many of these actions went all the way to the Montana Supreme Court, which had to cost a small fortune in attorney fees for the city of Billings. In one case, the Montana Supreme Court awarded the firefighters $625,000 in attorney fees.

I firmly believe that firefighters and law enforcement should be paid a decent salary for putting their lives on the line to protect us and scrape us off the tarmac when we screw up. However, I also believe they should use some discretion before they make a political advertisement favoring one party over the other as members of all political persuasions pay their wages. Their current advertisements supporting Tester over Rehberg make them look like hypocrites or money-grubbing public servants.

Norm Johnson

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