Friday, October 16, 2015


A fund has been established to help the wife and children of FF Timothy Melia, a combat Marine who served tours of duty in Baghdad and Fallujah. He was an eight-year veteran firefighter in FDNY Engine Co. 332, Brooklyn, NY. This true American hero lost his life in a car accident on May 28, 2015. Tim’s wife, Lisa, is now the sole caregiver for her one-year old son and three daughters, all under six-years old.
               Please don’t let this hero’s family go it alone.
To provide for Tim’s children’s education, a fund has been set up at FDNY. The address is:
FDNY Foundation 
9 Metrotech Center #5E-10 
Brooklyn, NY 11201
Make checks out to: Firefighter Tim Melia Children’s Fund.
If you wish to contribute online, go to the FDNY Foundation, www.fdnyfoundation.org/. Click on the “Donate Today” button. About midway down the next page, on the left, you will see “The FDNY Foundation General Support”. When you click on that you will find “Firefighter Tim Melia Children’s Fund” The rest is self- explanatory. All donations are tax deductible.
Thank you

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

An Open Letter To The Uniformed Firefighters Association

Dear Uniformed Firefighters Association Members, September 11, 2014, Thirteen years ago, three hundred million Americans, and millions more throughout the world, united for one purpose: to help the thousands murdered at the World Trade Center. A former president and treasurer of the Uniformed Firefighters Association took advantage of their generosity when they accepted $81 million in donations for the Widows’ and Children’s Fund. They ignored donors’ reasonable expectations that their donations would be given exclusively and expeditiously to the widows, children, and families of the 343 firefighters who died on that day. Instead, the UFA hoarded the donations, intending to establish an investment in the future, and to distribute small stipends over time to the children of all firefighters who died in the line of duty. Contrast that with what the International Association of Fire Fighters did after 9-11. They collected $210 million and, within months of the tragedy, began the distribution of funds to the widows and families of the firefighters who died. They distributed the bulk of donations to the estates of the deceased 9-11 firefighters within two years. The behavior of the UFA’s Widows’ and Children’s Fund trustees prompted the New York State Attorney General to intervene in 2002 to encourage them to distribute their 9-11 money as donors had intended. Article 7-A of the Executive Law of the NY State Attorney General (Solicitation and Collection of Funds for Charitable Purposes) prohibited “using contributed funds for purposes inconsistent with those for which they were solicited.” When the A. G. resolved the matter: $12.5 million went to all widows in the Fund, $4.7 million went to the estates of the single firefighters who died on 9-11, and $25.84 million went to all children in the Fund. The trustees then invested the remaining $23 million in risky equity and bond markets. The investment portfolio is now the primary source of income for the Fund. That’s not where donors thought their donations would end up. For a while the investments did well – then they didn’t. In the fiscal year ending July 31, 2009, the portfolio lost 5.5 percent. To lessen the impact of that loss, the trustees reduced payments to dependents by 41.5 percent. A small investment loss resulted in a much larger reduction in fund services, which leads one to believe that investment returns take precedence over services to the children in the Widows’ and Children’s Fund. After 9-11, trustees of the Widows and Children’s Fund abrogated their fiscal responsibility to donors and took advantage of the widows, children and families of our fallen brothers at a time when they were vulnerable. Instead of helping them, the trustees chose to take their money and gamble it on Wall Street, so that they and future UFA officials could use the proceeds to throw an annual Christmas party, parcel out small stipends to children, and look like “good guys” to the membership in perpetuity. What happened should have never happened, and investing 9-11 money in risky markets should no longer be allowed. The trustees’ primary responsibility is to protect the Fund’s assets, and not gamble them when stock and bond markets are as risky as they are today. Joseph J. Hehir FDNY Retired For further information, questions or input, jjhehir@excite.com

Friday, December 24, 2010

Marines

Pray for the "Darkhorse" 3rd Battalion 5th Marines and their families. They are fighting it out in Afghanistan and they lost 9 marines in 4 days.

Semper Fi, God Bless America and God Bless the United States Marine Corps...

Justin Allen, 23,

Brett Linley, 29,

Matthew Weikert, 29,

Justus Bartett, 27,

Dave Santos, 21,

Chase Stanley, 21,

Jesse Reed, 26,

Matthew Johnson, 21,

Zachary Fisher, 24,

Brandon King, 23,

Christopher Goeke, 23,

Sheldon Tate, 27,

Sunday, October 17, 2010

An Open Letter To The Uniformed Firefighters Association Membership

Donations to the Widows’ and Children’s Fund were not and are not managed as donors expected, and the assets of the Fund are placed at unnecessary risk. The Uniformed Firefighters Association (UFA) uses the Fund primarily to ingratiate union officials with the membership, secondarily to maintain an investment and finally to provide assistance to the widows and children of firefighters who died in the line of duty.
Three hundred and forty-three firefighters were murdered at the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. The UFA capitalized on the tragedy and collected $81 million in donations for the Widows’ and Children’s Fund. Donors thought that their money would go directly to the widows, children and families of those who died on 9-11. The UFA had other ideas. They planned to invest the money and dole out small stipends to widows and children only, over time; families of single firefighters were not included. Further, the expectation of donors that their generosity would be dispensed expeditiously was ignored.
That prompted the New York State attorney general to intervene to force the UFA to distribute the money as donors intended. He was partially successful. When the smoke settled, the UFA got to keep about $23 million, which was eventually invested in risky equity and bond markets.
For a while the investments did well, and each December the UFA held an annual Christmas party for dependent children, paid for by the Fund. The UFA also published Fire Lines each January following the party, with photos of union officials surrounded by smiling children. It’s great public relations; union officials look like heroes to the membership.
Its great public relations until something goes wrong—then it’s not. In the fiscal year ending July 31, 2009, the Fund’s investments declined 5%. To attenuate the impact of that loss on the investment portfolio, the UFA reduced payments to dependents by 42%. A relatively small investment loss resulted in a large reduction in Fund services, which leads one to believe that investment returns takes precedence over dependent services as a goal of the Fund. You be the judge, but in my opinion, the UFA needs serious supervision by the membership in the management of the Widows’ and Children’s Fund.

Joseph J. Hehir
FDNY Retired

For further information, questions or input, jjhehir@excite.com

Saturday, September 11, 2010

The Tea Party

The Tea Party movement is made up of ordinary American citizens who are concerned with the enormous wasteful spending of our federal and state governments in recent years. They are also concerned that their representatives no longer represent them when they legislate.
There are very vocal fringes on the left and right that attempt to either denigrate them or to speak for them as they play their psychological games. They will fail; middle of the road Americans are not swayed by them, and will vote in November.

Friday, August 6, 2010

The Widows' and Childrens' Fund

Three hundred and forty-three firefighters were murdered at the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. Their fire union, the Uniformed Firefighters Association, collected about $80 million in donations after the event. Donors thought that the money would go directly to the widows, children and families of those who died that day. They should have read the fine print. The fire union had other ideas.
Their plan was to invest the money and dole out small amounts to widows and children only over time. The families of single firefighters were not included.
In one of their plans, the amount of money a widow would receive was so small that at thirty-six years old, she would have to live to be ninety-six before she received her full amount on a dollar for dollar basis, an amount that donors expected she would receive immediately.
That scheme was so outrageous that the Charities Bureau at the New York State Attorney General’s office intervened and made the union give the money out as expected, but not all of it. The union got to keep about $20 million, which they then invested. The investment is doing well, and each December they are able to throw a Christmas party and give the children a $500 stipend.
The union also publishes a paper in the winter. In it union officials, surrounded by grateful widows and children, are prominently portrayed. It’s great public relations; the firefighters eat it up.
Joseph J. Hehir
FDNY Retired

Saturday, April 3, 2010

A Tough Problem

Here is what is going on in the federal government’s attempt to influence how New York State educators educate.

As part of the stimulus package Arne Duncan, the head of the U. S. Department of Education, was given $4.35 billion in grant money to distribute to the states. The cash strapped states can surely use it. Never mind that the cash strapped nation doesn’t have it lying around to give.

This is how it works. Instead of distributing education money directly according to population, each state is required to submit a proposal on how they plan to spend the money on education. If Arne Duncan approves, they get the money.

He wants four things from the states: more charter schools, school systems must take student achievement into account when evaluating teachers for tenure, improved training for teachers and principals, and improved science instruction for the students.

Mr. Richard Iannuzzi, President of the 600,000 member New York State United Teachers union (NYSUT) and MR. Michael Mulgrew, the new President of the 55,000 member United Federation of Teachers (UFT) in New York City oppose this. Both unions have the support of the New York State legislature.

Governor David Paterson needs to find $9 billion dollars soon to balance his $133 billion 2010 – 2011 budget. Many other governors have similar problems. Governor Paterson proposes to cut $1.7 billion from education statewide if he doesn’t find some extra money fast. The $700 million the feds offered to New York State could have helped, but the legislature didn’t go along, so the feds didn’t help. There will be an additional opportunity to make the necessary changes to qualify for further grant money in June. Time will tell how this works out.

I personally oppose the federal government medaling in the affairs of local schools, but there is a national interest here. We are being creamed when it comes to educating young people. Asian and Indian students in this country and in their own countries work much harder and are much smarter than the average American student. Further, the level of education in the Black and Hispanic communities is very low, with no improvement in sight. The federal government is trying to raise standards for all to a point where we as a nation can continue to compete economically with other nations.

In New York, there are many obstacles that local school boards must overcome to properly meet their responsibilities. A major obstacle is the powerful influence that teacher unions have on how schools are run. They are able, with their political donations and their ability to “get out the vote”, to influence the legislature to tilt education legislation in their favor. The Triborough Amendment to the Taylor Law voted into law in 1982 by the legislature is an example. While the Taylor Law prohibits teachers from striking, the amendment prohibits school boards from changing the existing teacher contracts when they expire. Under the law there is nothing local school boards can do to change policy while negotiating for a new contract, which could go on forever. Everything, including regular step-ups in pay, must remain as is until a new agreement is reached. The federal government, with its promise of grant money, is trying to pressure legislatures to dilute the influence of unions in school board negotiations. Time will tell if that works also.

Some educators are to blame also. For example, the New York State Education Department included in their proposal for grant money $200,000 for very expensive office furniture for their executives. That item was sited as one reason New York State lost out. The Schenectady, NY school board is now busy trying to protect itself from a possible criminal investigation and sure voter disapproval next November. Student achievement is not their number one priority right now.

Most of all, school boards and educators are fighting an up hill battle to educate when the State’s family structure is in such bad shape. Family structure has a predominant influence on learning preparedness*. The single earner family, where one partner works and the other stays at home to care for the kids, is a dying institution today. Further, families headed by single mothers and families fractured by divorce do not have the structure to properly prepare children for learning. The feds have very little influence here.

This is a tough problem.

*FAMILY ENVIRONMENT has a substantial influence on children's scholastic achievement. Home experiences can significantly affect the development of literacy and language skills among young children (Roskos & Neuman, 1993; Snow, 1995) in families who promote linguistic skill development, parents and other adults encourage reading, make books available to children, read to the children, and limit television viewing (Sulzby & Teale, 1991). Among Indochinese refugee families in the United States, children with high levels of scholastic achievement were likely to have parents who encouraged hard work and excellence (Caplan, Choy, & Whitmore, 1992).