Our short local nightmare is over. Philadelphia Fire Commissioner Lloyd Ayers made his point that Firefighter Jack Slavinski violated department policy when he posed shirtless for a charity calendar. But in the end, the commissioner sent Firefighter Slavinski back to Rescue 1 with only an oral reprimand. According to the Philadelphia Inquirer this happened yesterday when Commissioner Ayers made a rare appearance at Slavinski's trial board hearing.
A spokesman for Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter reiterated Ayers' previous position that the department is in the safety business and not the beefcake business. Here is an excerpt from Robert Moran's article:
Slavinski appeared at a hearing Tuesday and was facing three disciplinary charges, said union official Mike Kane.
In a surprise move, Ayers appeared at the hearing and agreed to simply give Slavinski an oral reprimand and reassign him back to Rescue 1.
Kane said he had participated in more than 50 such hearings and "it was the first time the commissioner walked into the room and talked to anybody."
Firefighter Slavinski is one of a dozen firefighters across the country who were asked to be part of the charity calendar. He posed for photographer Katherine Kostreva in front of a well known Philly fountain. The union had help set up the shoot and expected the city's portion of the money raised to go to the survivors of fallen firefighters. IAFF Local 22 president Bill Gault confirmed for reporters they failed to run the shoot by the commissioner's office.
Last week Commissioner Ayers told Philadelphia Daily News reporter David Gambacorta, "We get letters from children. They look up to us. We cannot allow them to be showing nipples in photographs of Philadelphia firefighters."
Ayers is catching some grief today about this even becoming an issue from Philadelphia Daily News columnist Ronnie Polaneczky who cites what she calls a double standard by the commissioner. Polaneczky pointed to a YouTube video of Ayers (below), in uniform, providing a testimonial while shopping in the Philadelphia book store Black and Nobel.
Polanecsky believes that the store's home page might be more offensive to some than exposed nipples.
"I went to the store to get black literature and the guy stuck a camera in my face to say things about the store, but I didn't know he was going to put it on YouTube," Ayers said defensively. "I don't see how this issue ties in to the calendar controversy."
Here's how it ties in:
The commissioner did something well-intentioned that he never expected would be taken the wrong way. Just as Slivinski did something well-intentioned that he never expected would be taken the wrong way.
Ayers' first response should've been to extend to a decent, hardworking underling the same compassion he affords himself.
The mayor's spokesman told reporters the city is considering legal action to keep Slavinski's photo out of the calendar.