NY firefighters ask city to remove incoming chief over social media posts

The three Camillus Fire Department members allege that James McBride made “racist, unethical and offensive” comments on Facebook

By Elizabeth Doran
Syracuse Media Group

CAMILLUS, N.Y. — Three members of the Camillus Fire Department have filed a complaint against the incoming fire chief asking that the man be suspended for 30 days and not allowed to become chief.

The three members allege that James McBride, who was elected chief by the membership Dec. 4, made “racist, unethical and offensive” comments on Facebook, according to a written complaint they filed with the village of Camillus.

McBride, who has since taken the Facebook posts down, said in one “The world is made up of all kinds but in America if you are an illegal get out. Go back home, we have enough foreigners living off the system.”

Another said “they are professionals because they came here and got a f***ing free education”...

Another depicted young boys aiming toy guns with the line “what boys did in my day” and then showed boys wearing makeup with the title “what boys are doing today.”

The complaint was filed by Brian Raichlin, Scott Penoyer and Austin Mersfelder on Dec. 3.

Raichlin says the village board, which runs the fire department, approved McBride as fire chief on Dec. 17. Raichlin says the board has not responded to the complaint.

Camillus Mayor Patricia Butler-Rhoades says the village board investigated the complaint and determined the Facebook posts in question were private conversations between McBride and his brother.

In addition, the mayor said the posts were not made “under the guise of the Camillus Fire Department” or as a representative of the department.

Butler-Rhoades said those complaining are upset because they are unhappy with the results of the fire department election. McBride defeated Tim Bloodgood, the current chief. The mayor also said the board decided not to appoint Raichlin as first assistant chief, so she said he is upset.

Raichlin denied the election was the reason they filed the complaint, noting the complaint was filed Dec. 3 — the day before the election was held.

McBride, the new chief, did not return phone calls or messages from Syracuse.com The Post Standard.

Raichlin said he believes the board should hold a hearing.

"We find these posts blatantly offensive, and they go against the fire department’s social media policy,'' he said.

The policy reads “Where the person posting information can be identified as a member of the Camillus Fire Department, unethical or offensive content are not permitted.”

The village-run volunteer department about 40 members, according to Raichlin.

The mayor said the three who filed the complaint are “trying to make everything look really bad because they didn’t win the election.”

She said the board discussed the posts in an executive session earlier in December, and took no action on them. They did approve McBride as fire chief.

The village board meets again at 6 p.m. today, and Raichlin said they plan to ask the board about the complaint.

Copyright 2019 Syracuse Media Group

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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