Some interesting one-upmanship is going on in the always entertaining but increasingly risky game of chicken being played in Lawrence over Fire Department staffing. Over the weekend, Mayor Willie Lantigua finally agreed to tear himself away from his two-week, triumphal, rock-star tour of the Dominican Republic and return to the “great city of Lawrence.” And upon his return, he said a cadre of volunteers was going to be tracking firefighters with video cameras. The idea was to see if they were, you know, letting down a bit at fires or other calls to make things look even worse than they are. After all, the worse it looks, the more likely it is that the state or the feds will be persuaded to cough up some more money so the union won’t have to make any contract concessions to bring back some of the guys that were laid off.
This, fire officials said, was the ultimate insult. But the talking points memo in response got a bit garbled. According to acting fire Chief Brian Murphy, the firefighters always give 100 percent. Not so, said union secretary Graeme Millar. “The firefighters here in the city, we give 150 percent every single day, no questions asked,” he said.
Which prompts a question: How do you give more than 100 percent?
I’ll go them one better. I give 200 percent every day, no questions asked. How do I do it? I don’t know. But it sounds good.