KCK Mayor Mark Holland said Thursday he was threatened on social media by a member of the KCK Fire Department and reported the threat to local and state law enforcement authorities.
In a statement, Holland, mayor of the Unified Government of Wyandotte County/Kansas City, Kan., said he contacted the Kansas City, Kan., Police Department and the Kansas Bureau of Investigation about a message written on a Facebook account belonging to Chris Wing, a KCK firefighter and son of firefighter union business manager Bob Wing.
The message, written Wednesday evening, reads, “You might need security detail when you start witch hunts like so …”
The message was attached to an audio clip from an automated phone message from Holland, alerting KCK residents to a Thursday evening special UG Commission meeting where he will discuss a report that outlines what the outgoing mayor called “widespread corruption” within the KCK Fire Department.
Holland said that Bob Wing “has been at the center of” the corruption.
“The kind of threat that Chris Wing made will not be tolerated,” Holland said in his statement. “To be sure, there are many, many good, hard working, honorable and brave firefighters on our staff. They put their lives on the line to keep us safe. But the threat Chris Wing made is intolerable. It is an example of the hostile mentality that pervades our Fire Union leadership.”
Wing’s comment about security detail is an apparent reference to Holland using a police security detail, which Holland said was based on a recommendation from the KCK Police Department. Holland is the first UG mayor to use a security detail, and the issue became a point of criticism from his opponents during last year’s mayoral election, which Holland lost to David Alvey.
Wing could not be immediately reached for comment. A spokesman for the KCK Fire Department said the department does not comment about personnel matters.
On Tuesday, The Star reported on the contents of a payroll analysis from UG data that showed, among other things, that KCK Fire Department personnel were paid $920,000 in 2017 for work they didn’t do resulting from a practice known as shift trading.
Shift trading is a common practice in fire departments, where firefighters often work 24 hour shifts separated by 48 hours of time off. If a firefighter trades off a shift, it’s normally assumed that the work is receiprocated, in part because the firefighter is paid as though the shift was actually worked.
The UG analysis shows that several KCK Fire Department personnel traded off shifts but did not have them traded back, resulting in firefighters being paid for not working. It also estimates that firefighters who had shifts traded to them were paid “under the table” as compensation.
The report said the KCK Fire Department’s shift trading practices posed safety risks from firefighters working too many shifts in a row and firefighters working shifts as captains.
Bob Wing, the business manager of International Association of Fire Fighters No. 64, the union that represents KCK firefighters, received a full year of paid time off — $65,000 — from shift trading, according to the report.
“Chris Wing is the son of KCK Fire Captain Bob Wing, who also serves as the business manager for IAFF No. 64,” Holland said in his statement. “Bob Wing has been at the center of the corrupt practice of paying other firefighters to work shifts, a practice that has resulted in a loss of nearly $1 million dollars to our taxpayers and, more important, has jeopardized the safety of other firefighters and the public at large. Bob Wing was the top abuser of this practice, having paid others to work all of his shifts in 2017.”
Wing told The Star on Tuesday that there was no abuse of shift trading according to the terms of a labor agreement between the UG and its firefighters. KCK firefighters are only supposed to trade a maximum of 24 shifts in a year, but the labor agreement allows exceptions for union-related work.