Sunday, July 15, 2007

Standing Up for What You Believe In

Kudos to three assistant fire chiefs out in Coram, New York on Long Island. The three men, Second Assistant Chief Robert Kinahan, Third Assistant Chief Christopher Cacace, and Robert Kullak (position unkown) all resigned over the lack of disciplinary action towards a member of their fire department who told a black firefighter that, straight up, he "doesn't like black people." Another reason behind the resignations was the fact that Coram Fire Chief Ronald Curaba was suspended for two weeks following a highly disputed "assault" that Curaba and company say was merely a heated argument. It all went down on May 19 at a departmental installation dinner (whatever that is) when Sal Giarrizzo, who is an employee of Coram FD, not a firefighter, told Milton Forde, a black firefighter, that he was not a fan of members of the black race. When Curaba heard what Giarrizzo had said, he confronted him and the two got into a pretty heated argument, yelling at each other nose-to-nose. Some people claim that Curaba head-butted Giarrizzo, others say that never happened. So the Coram Fire Commission suspended Curaba for standing up for Forde while they told Giarrizzo that he really had done nothing wrong and to settle the matter personally with Forde. Giarrizzo said that he meant is as a joke to Forde. Hilarious. Forde wrote a letter to the department asking Giarrizzo to be punished harshly, so obviously he will not be endorsing Giarrizzo's stand-up comedy tour hitting your local Klan meeting this summer.

But the story does not end. Giarrizzo, according to the Newsday article, supervises secretarial and janitorial employees in Coram and apparently a number of them are black. So Van Johnson, the Coram Fire Commissioner, sees no problem with a white employee saying to a black firefighter's face that he does not like black people despite the fact that the same white person must supervise black employees? This may not be surprising when one considers Johnson's bizarre logic. Johnson claims that Giarrizzo's "joke" was not racially charged. He said that he was just stating a fact. Johnson asked a crowd of about 50 people at a departmental meeting that if he had stated he did not like Polish, Jewish, or Catholic people, would that be racist? Jews: yes, because technically they are a race. Polish and Catholics? No, but only because they are not races. It would just be highly prejudiced and bigoted. It also turns out that Sal Giarrizzo and Van Johnson are buddy-buddy and many are saying that this is the reason that Giarrizzo was not punished. Johnson says that this is not the case and that Curaba was violent and has been in the past. If this is so, then why a measly two week suspension for a repeat offense, and why hasn't Giarrizzo filed assault charges? Seems kind of week. Chief Ronald Curaba has threatened to resign from his post if Van Johnson and the remainder of the brain trust that is the Coram Fire Commission do not step down. Hopefully Sal Giarrizzo will be fired for his outright racist remarks, Van Johnson will step down from any occupation requiring simple logic, and all three assistant chiefs resume their duties with Curaba's suspension wiped off his record. Peace.

Photo - Coram Fire Department Badge (

1 comment:

  1. Here it is several years later and Sal the racist district manager was able to retire with incredible benefits and pension but the same corrupt commissioners are still running the department using puppet chiefs who do what ever they are told to do by the commissioners ...scary that the public doesn't care that these corrupt commissioners are in charge of over 5 million dollors annual budget...that's why they all have family members on the coram fd payroll but no politicians would dare call for an investigation into money fraud!!! Shame shame shame