Fire/EMS district integration meeting cut short by fire commissioner's derogatory comment
San Juan Island Fire District #3 Commissioner Frank Cardinale apologized after reportedly saying "Roll the eyes, you b----" while speaking with hospital board members
By Laura French
SAN JUAN COUNTY, Wash. — A fire/EMS district integration meeting in a Washington county ended abruptly Tuesday after a fire district commissioner reportedly made a derogatory comment directed at a public hospital district board member.
San Juan Island Fire District #3 and San Juan County Public Hospital District #1 board members were on a video conference call discussing how to go forward with plans for San Juan EMS to move into the fire district and had proposed a steering committee for the project when at one point fire district Commissioner Frank Cardinale is heard saying, "Roll the eyes, you b----," according to the San Juan Islander. The comment is believed to have been directed at hospital district Board Chair Anna Lisa Lindstrum.
"Did I just hear that? Deeply troubling. How can we have trust if this kind of behavior is occurring? This is unacceptable," hospital district Commissioner Trish Lehman said after the comment was made.
Hospital district Commissioner Kyle Loring called the statement "incredibly inappropriate," "vindictive" and "misogynistic" and also expressed concerns about feeling comfortable with the integration process after the comment.
Other officials on the call reiterated the inappropriateness of the comment and that it reflected a poor relationship between the fire district and public hospital district. Some called for Cardinale to be removed from the conversation on integration and the steering committee. The meeting was then adjourned.
Two apology letters dated July 29 were sent to members of the hospital district and published by San Juan Island Fire & Rescue; one was written by Cardinale and the other by fire district Board Chair Bob Jarman.
"Those words were offensive, disrespectful, and completely inappropriate. I have embarrassed myself, my family, my fellow commissioners and my chief. I have let down my department and fellow firefighters," Cardinale wrote. "Do not let my moment of indiscretion in any way hamper the efforts of merging our two fine organizations. Please know that this does not reflect the culture, ethics, professionalism, or commitment of Fire District #3."
Cardinale added that he was removed from the steering committee and would not be actively involved in further merger plans with the hospital board.
Jarman wrote that the fire district does not condone Cardinal's comment "or anything that amounts to statements of hatred or discrimination from anyone in this organization" and stressed the district's commitment to "the respect, fairness, equity and dignity of all people we come in contact with, including our public, our elected officials and our membership."