City firefighters union leader Joe King -- normally so garrulous that prosecutors sometimes invite him in to continue chatting (sometimes with immunity)-- was unusually quiet in the wake of a string of egregious incidents involving firefighters.
He should have stayed quiet.
In particular, Mr. King embarrassed himself with a comment concerning union member Timothy B. Coyne, subject of an extended police complaint: After a city homeowner objected to Coyne's urination outside the home, Coyne "burst through the front door and grabbed [the victim] by the throat," slammed him against a wall, entered the home with at least four friends and began screaming at the victim and his friends. The charges: burglary, simple assault, loitering, criminal mischief and public drunkenness.
Mr. King's assessment? Mr. Coyne "stumbled."
That's not stumbling; that's storming. Stumbling is when you overlook for decades the retirement fund mismanagement that threatens every firefighter pension. When the subject is violent home invasion conducted by a gang, the word is storming.
Mr. King also bristled when objecting to any rush to judgment against the half-dozen city firefighters awaiting court dates for drunken rampages or drunken driving (or both): "They have their privileges and rights to due process." The city, he said, should not prejudge the defendants until the legal process resolves the criminal charges.
Mr. King then promptly prejudged an incident involving city firefighters, a duffle bag stuffed with cash and a citizen's complaint to police: "Unfounded," Mr. King declared the citizen's claim.
Mr. King should focus on a different word -- "unfunded" -- and to do so quietly; his recent comments introduce gasoline to a combustible situation, and anyone associated with firefighting should know better.