Salt Lake Mayor Palmer DePaulis isn't the only city boss troubled by disgruntled public safety employees during the city's debut as host of the 56th annual U.S. Conference of Mayors.
Firefighters from Quincy, Mass., traveled across the country to walk an informational picket line outside the Red Lion Hotel in downtown Salt Lake City as the first of 170 mayors arrived to register for the six-day conference.Rumors of public safety employees from New Orleans and other cities coming to picket circulated at the conference, which will attract national media attention until Wednesday.
Several Quincy firemen from Local 792 of the International Association of Fire Fighters arrived in Salt Lake City to confront their mayor, Francis McCauley, with picket signs while marching in front of the hotel.
"Our primary problem is understaffing and underbudgeting," said George Parker, union president and Quincy fireman.
"That sound familiar?" Salt Lake City fireman Phillip Curtin asked. "That sounds just like Salt Lake City." Curtin and another city fireman had joined the Quincy picketers to show their support.
Salt Lake police officers have been picketing this week in front of City Hall to protest cuts in their budget. They did so again Friday, and have have threatened to continue their display at the conference.
Picketing Salt Lake policemen distributed fliers claiming drastic declines in numbers of officers on the force to protest DePaulis' support for cuts in the police budget.
"I was a little surprised we haven't settled the firefighters contract in Quincy," McCauley said. Officials recently signed contracts with Quincy police but not with firefighters, he said.
Asked if he felt any sympathy for host DePaulis, McCauley said "that's the name of the game," and noted similarities in the problems he and DePaulis face.
Like Salt Lake City, which recently discovered nearly $1 million in revenue shortfalls before adopting its $79.6 million budget, McCauley said Quincy is suffering through "tight financial times."