Home NEWS Police/Fire Moraga’s Controversy Magnifier – Stand Back, We’re Gonna Blow!

Moraga’s Controversy Magnifier – Stand Back, We’re Gonna Blow!

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A semi-rural, semi-sleepy small town 360 days out of the year, Moraga’s villagers seem content to conserve their energy, honing their blades in preparation of that one, unexpected contretemps that comes along once every few years – something with all the necessary elements to set tongues wagging and the town on its ear.

Dog parks. Speed bumps. No ice cream parlor for the old Jack In The Box. Quelle horreur! Time to go to the mattresses.

The latest brew-ha-ha to engage a sizable portion of the town’s population in a still-raging knife fight is a perceived move to dissolve our local fire district (Moraga-Orinda Fire Protection District – MOFD) and consolidate it with the larger Contra Costa County Fire Protection District.

At the board’s April 21 meeting, MOFD Director Gregory Baitx thought the topic was at least worthy of discussion, Baitx requesting the topic be placed on the agenda of the board’s May 19 meeting – a move he didn’t see as particularly concerning at the time.

“I really thought we could have a look at it, just run the numbers and see if there was anything to the idea,” Baitx said. “I didn’t expect all this to happen.”

“All this” turned out to be local Internet forums swinging into full Viking Battle Mode, social media stories and posts throwing up a flak-storm of criticism and even some un-suburban name calling. Detractors stressed that consolidation would mean a loss of local control for our little district, bleed off local taxes, and leave little MoRinda with a diminished overall emergency services offering.

With the electronic flensing underway, Moraga’s Town Council prepared a draft letter for submission to MOFD May 19 stating their opposition to any whisper of consolidation and attaching emails – many of them blunt – that were beginning to roll in from villagers.

Pretty soon Baitx, a seasoned firefighter and Moragan whose grandad served as the town’s first fire chief, was getting side-eyed by locals who glared and pointed at him like Donald Sutherland in Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978 version).

“I mean, I’m from Moraga. I live here,” he said. “I was wondering if there were other options we should be looking at. That’s supposed to be part of what we do. But then, all of a sudden, it’s like I’m trying to dismantle my district and I’m a bad guy.”

This site spoke with Baitx early on in the tempest, when things were just getting rolling, and he intimated that given all the hubbub-bub some of his fellow directors were considering removing his proposed agenda item entirely – making it one of the shortest-lived items in civic history, we guess.

But, hold on, removing the item may now be as hard to do as stopping the flow of water from a charged, un-nozzled hose as the argument surfaces that pulling the item outside of a public forum after it was calendared during one isn’t exactly in line with parliamentary procedure.

We shall see on May 19. But we’re betting this one will go away after a bit more public scourging. It’s the way things get done around here…

6 COMMENTS

  1. Baitx should be washed down with a MOFD hose right in public, in front of the main fire station! Then his apology will be accepted.

  2. Last report it the agenda item was yanked. Oh and Baitx pretty much ended his board position as he will be Gone after his term is up. No way he gets another seat at the table.

  3. Thanks for the article, JD, an entertaining read as always!

    This item has not been yanked from the MOFD 5/19 agenda and is unlikely to be; it seems there is a strong desire to have the item’s originators publicly state their rationale and to allow the public to weigh in with their feelings in an open forum. And there’s that sticky point the article mentions about placing an item on the agenda during a public meeting, then pulling it from the agenda outside of one.

    The Moraga Town Council met last night and unanimously opposed MOFD even considering a merger. Highlights and a link to the livestream (along with key moment timestamps) are contained in an article on the homepage of the SMARTMoraga.com website (apologies and understood if linking is not allowed, JD).

  4. There is an earned distrust with this union dating back to 2006 when former MOFD Chief Nowicki gamed(legally thanks to union rules) a $240k pension then “retired” a day later only then come on immediately as a paid consultant. So Mr Baitx may have the best of intentions but this taxpayer will always look at his union and the MOFD board for that matter with skepticism.

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