Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Appeals Hearing for Beckmann Demotion Set

Appeals Hearing for Beckmann Demotion Set
by José Pérez

The hearing to review the demotion earlier this year of Miami-Dade County fire fighter Brian Beckmann for derisive comments he posted online earlier this year has been set for January, an official with the County Attorney’s Office informed the Miami Times.    

William Candela said that Beckmann’s appeals hearing to reverse his May 14, 2012 demotion from Captain to fire fighter as a result of a rant he posted on his personal Facebook page in which he disparaged the judge in the Trayvon Martin murder case as well as African-Americans in general  will be on January 14, 2013.    “That date has been set in stone,” said Candela who will argue on behalf of Miami-Dade County to uphold that disciplinary action.

The January hearing, which will be open to the public, is the latest episode in a continuing story that started last spring when Beckmann’s comments were originally posted online.  Although the comments were removed and the facebook account was soon removed altogether shortly thereafter, the image of the page posting was already captured and was published by Joy Reid of The Grio Report igniting a firestorm for the Department and County. 

For retired county employee and local activist William Clark, who along with others pushed for Beckmann’s termination, there is still work to be done specifically to be called as witnesses for the County to testify against Beckmann.   Clark said that he believes that “victims are going to be absent. “  He said that he and others in Dade County’s Black community “are the victims of [Beckmann’s] remarks” because fire fighters are “first responders who go straight to the homes of the people.”  Hence for him and others who question Beckmann’s commitment to protect, safety in the hands of someone like the embattled fire fighter is a concern.   “I don’t want to take a chance with this guy saving me,” said Clark of Beckmann.

Simply put, said Clark, “we want the county attorney to subpoena the victims.”

When asked about who will be called as witness, Candela said, “I am going to make the determination.  I have not made it yet.”  Candela said that such hearings are “really common” in a workforce that has “27,000 county employees.”  These hearings involve a union lawyer, a county attorney to argue opposing sides of the case, an independent arbitrator to hear the case, and witnesses called by each side.

Adding to the intrigue in the case, the Miami Herald published redacted copies of Miami-Dade County documentation relating to the case [please see below].   For example, in a county memorandum titled “Findings of Fact Report” sent by Dave Downey, Assistant Chief of Operations to Chief William Bryson on May 11, 2012, Beckmann denied that he wrote the statements that set off the controversy. 

*To read the print version of this article, please click here.