By Terry Miller
Pasadena Councilman Tyron Hampton said he disagrees with City Manager Steve Mermell’s decision to reassign Fire Chief Bertral Washington. So too, does fellow council member John Kennedy who expressed outrage at the last council meeting.
Hampton said the Pasadena Firefighters Union, which he equated to a fraternity, intentionally put pressure on the city manager for unknown reasons but feels that racism is indeed very much a part of that union’s culture.
Hampton said that prior to Washington’s appointment as fire chief, 90 percent of the graduating classes of firefighters were Anglo-Saxon men. During Washington’s tenure, that figure changed radically, Hampton told the Pasadena Independent on Wednesday.
“Since Bertral Washington took office, that percentage became balanced. More African Americans, women and other minorities are now included in the fire department.”
Councilman Hampton said the reassignment is simply the first stop on a pathway to his ultimate termination.
While he’s not calling for Mermell’s resignation, he believes that council should have been consulted on the matter. “If there is something in his personnel file, I can understand the decision the city manager took. However, I don’t know.” Hampton stated.
When asked if the item will be agendized, as Mayor Tornek had alluded to, Hampton said he doesn’t think that’ll happen.
Calls for comment from Kennedy and the Firefighters Union were not immediately returned.
An email to Washington for comment netted this automatic reply: “I am currently out of the office. During my absence, Deputy Fire Chief Bryan Frieders will be acting on my behalf and can be reached at BFrieders@cityofpasadena.net.”