July 4, 2012
-- by Dave Johnson
City privatizes its beach lifeguarding. The company does what companies do.
As lifeguards are paid and trained to do, Tomas Lopez rushed down the beach to rescue a drowning man — and then got fired for it.
The problem: Lopez stepped out of the beach zone his company is paid to patrol, a supervisor said Tuesday.
... Lifeguards in Hallandale Beach work for Orlando-based company Jeff Ellis and Associates, which has been providing lifeguard services for the city's beaches and pools since 2003.
Company officials on Tuesday said Lopez broke a rule that could've put beachgoers in his designated area in jeopardy. The firm could ultimately have been sued, officials said.
"We have liability issues and can't go out of the protected area," said supervisor Susan Ellis. "What he did was his own decision. He knew the company rules and did what he thought he needed to do."
... After the incident, Lopez said his boss asked him to fill out an incident report. His boss then fired him for leaving his assigned area.
... City administrators declined to comment Tuesday, indicating that the firing was a personnel decision made by a private company.
...Hallandale Beach began outsourcing its lifeguards in 2003 as a money-saving measure. The city pays the company about $334,000 annually to provide four lifeguards and one supervisor at the beach year-round, said Dobens.
Do you know how privatizing saves money? By paying minimum wages with no benefits. A few people at the top (usually friends of the official who pushed through to privatizing) get the rest.
Posted by Dave Johnson at July 4, 2012 5:48 PM
LETS GET ACTIVE and TELL HALLANDALE BEACH not to do business with the likes of Jeff Ellis and Associates! "Like" our Facebook page and then sign the petition at CHANGE.ORG to BOYCOTT HALLANDALE BEACH until they publicly state that they will no longer do business with Jeff Ellis and Associates.
Posted by: Kiralyhome at July 4, 2012 9:19 PM
The research shows that privatization offers a very mixed bag on "savings" -- in part because it supposedly works by depending on competition to keep costs low but is implemented when competition is either not feasible or outright eliminated.
In this case, the the amount of their contract with Jeff Ellis and Associates, the city could be paying an average of $66,800 or ~$50K PLUS benefits to the 5 employees. This is significantly more than the average salary of a lifeguard in the area, $23,000.
Privatizing offers one consistent benefit -- private contractors can hire and fire quickly. Obviously, that has its own drawbacks.
Posted by: Kathleen Carson at July 7, 2012 8:05 AM
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