Mayor Jay Knudtson apologizes for recent comments about Cape firefighters' union

Monday, December 8, 2008

In an effort to help cool tempers concerning city pay issues, Mayor Jay Knudtson apologized for recent comments about the Cape Girardeau firefighters' union.

In a statement issued Friday, Knudtson said he was wrong to have characterized the Cape Girardeau Firefighters Association's aggressive approach on city manager Doug Leslie's pay as "that is the fire pseudo-union that is pouting."

"While I don't recall specifically referring to the local Firefighter Association as a 'pseudo-union,' it is clear that the tone of my remarks were insensitive and may have been offensive to some," Knudtson said in a statement issued to the Southeast Missourian. "For this I offer my sincere apology. The Cape Girardeau Firefighter Association is a thriving and active organization that has a long history and a strong local presence. The local Association serves to represent its members in a professional manner and is responsible for many positive contributions to our community."

Knudtson issued the apology after more than 40 firefighters met with Leslie at city hall and firefighter Mark Starnes asked if Knudtson had been invited and if Leslie agreed with the statement. Knudtson was not invited, Leslie said, adding that he was not there to explain the mayor's remarks.

"I would not and never intend to say anything derogatory about any of our employee groups," Leslie said.

Whether the rank-and-file firefighters accept the apology is up to them, said Dean Lynn, president of the union, which is Local 1084 of the International Association of Firefighters.

"I would suspect he would have to talk to the members individually or as a group," Lynn said. "This is not the first time he has responded this way. It is a hard pill to swallow. We will leave it up to the members. It is not the first time he has made these type off derogatory remarks."


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