Once again, Mayor Hermanek has sent out letters to the North Riverside residents amazingly fraught with distortions, half-truths and lies, at the taxpayers’ expense, I might add. Let me take the time to share with you some of his fairy tales.

For years, the Village of North Riverside have been protected by professional full-time union firefighters, who have to be certified by the Illinois State Fire Marshall’s Office, test for the position, go through a background check and a physical agility test. 

They train daily; they give back to the community and care about each and every resident. Yes, they have had to work alongside numerous part-time PSI employees, who work for a for-profit company, whose only concern is their own bottom line. 

There really is no way of knowing who those PSI employees are, because the village does not do a background check on those people. It is left up to PSI. How stringent are they in their screening?

PSI was replaced in the City of Berwyn with professional full-time union firefighter/paramedics, after the union negotiated with the city and showed them savings over a 30-year time period. PSI until then had no-bid contracts, as they do with most of the communities they serve.

North Riverside Fire Fighters Local 2714 offered to have its own firefighters cross-trained and take on the paramedic work, using the model in Berwyn. Currently, some of those professional full-time firefighters are already paramedics and have to maintain their license through the Loyola medical system.

As for Hermanek’s claim that a North Riverside firefighter or lieutenant has salary and benefits of $200,000 to $230,000, that is an outright lie. If that is the case, where do I sign up? 

The only reason the village is facing deficits and shortfalls is because your politicians have stuck their head in the sand for so many years and refused to look to the future sustainability of their village.

Does PSI have experienced firefighters? Yes they do, and most of them work in the village of Lincolnwood, the only municipality in the state of Illinois that hires a private company for both fire and paramedic services. 

PSI is a training ground for EMTs and paramedics, a revolving door of employees who seek something better. Ask any EMT or paramedic who worked for them why they left and you will hear the same answer over and over. They wanted better benefits, salary, vacation time, pension etc.

The Village of North Riverside obviously does not believe in the collective bargaining rights the firefighters have earned and fought for in the state of Illinois. Your village politicians are being convinced once a collective bargaining agreement ends, that’s it. Done. Over. Kaput.

Sorry, Mayor Hermanek, you should know better; you have served long enough to know that is not how the system works. I urge all North Riverside taxpayers to FOIA the amount of money being spent on legal fees to fight the union. Your tax dollars are being wasted.

Did the village fail to make payments to the pension fund? Yes, it is all part of public record. The $700,000 the village alleges they will save by privatizing is nothing more than smoke and mirrors. The village for years had underfunded the pension system and in several recent years made zero contributions. The pension liability will still be there and has to be paid into the future for the current retirees.

Just so you know, I was one of those “outsiders” who knocked on your door to explain why privatizing is such a bad idea. Not a negative message, but the truth, because you as a taxpayer deserve the truth, not distortions, half-truths and lies.

Felix Greco, president

Berwyn Firefighters Association Local 506