Councilwoman Bass honors African American firefighters’ group at heated Thursday meeting

On Thursday morning, members of Philadelphia’s firefighters union packed City Council chambers to rail against the department’s “new mass transfer policy.”

At the same meeting, Eighth District City Councilwoman Cindy Bass honored the 50th anniversary of the Club Valiants Inc., a “fraternal organization of minority firefighters” which cites, as one of its accomplishments, fostering an environment that helped enable Lloyd Ayers to become fire commissioner.

Ironically, Ayers was being criticized by both signs held by red-shirt sporting members of Local 22 and a press release that “blasted” the commissioner and the Nutter Administration for a policy which they claimed put the lives of firefighters and residents in jeopardy.

Dueling issues

After she presented Club Valiants members with the resolution (PDF), those in attendance applauded for a handful of members on stage behind Bass, who later admitted she was nervous that the honor could get lost in a protest which was coincidentally scheduled on the same day.

“I didn’t know what to expect,” she told NewsWorks after sponsoring a resolution that read, in part, “The Valiants have sought, in all their words and deeds to live up to their chosen motto, ‘Good Conduct and Courage Lead To Honor.’

“Through service and support, members of Club Valiants, Inc., have distinguished themselves by their individual and collective contributions to the fire service on a local, national and international level.”

Everything went well, though. Lingering issues involving the current transfers and past controversies were set aside long enough for founding member Eugene Turnipseed to speak on behalf of the organization.

“We’re really appreciative of this,” Turnipseed said. “It’s quite an honor.”

Founded in 1962, Club Valiants now lists a current membership of about 5,100 spread across 90 chapters.

Another issue

City Councilman At-Large James F. Kenney introduced a resolution to honor longtime LaSalle University men’s basketball coach Speedy Morris, of Northwest Philadelphia.

Morris was recently recommended for inclusion in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame by his legendary Temple University peer John Chaney, Kenney said.

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