To Whom it may concern,
My name is Reece. I am 16 years old. My father is a firefighter for LSFD. He taught me that one of the most important things about being a good citizen and patriot is to respect and thank the people who serve our country, community, and protect our rights and well-being.
So on Wednesday, March 28th, when I read a Facebook post made by a local political figure pointing out that Councilwoman Diane Forte was describing the current city employee initiative toward pay raise as a “crying baby,” in all honestly I was appalled. Although initially I felt that these were “adult” issues, I was compelled to at least voice some of my thoughts on this matter. I figured that she would not mind hearing the voice of a firefighter’s son. I went on Ms. Forte’s Facebook page and voiced my perspective that I felt it was disrespectful of her to use such an analogy in regard to our service people seeking fair pay. Ms. Forte responded saying that the statements in question were a “complete and utter lie.” It was upon this that I started researching and trying to obtain video footage of the meeting in question. In the same Facebook comment where she said that this “crybaby” statement was a lie, she also challenged me to call her phone number and discuss this over the phone. I did.
When we spoke she seemed to show little regard for being polite and interrupted me frequently. I asked her if there was anything she said in any certain meeting that could have been manipulated into a statement such as the one the political figure spoke about on his Facebook. She said I should contact whoever said this about her and ask them for a video, and there would not be any footage because, according to her, it never happened.
I then contacted the political figure that originally accused her of this and asked him for a link to the video of the meeting where she said these things. He urged me to reach out to the Lee’s Summit Firefighters Association and the Missouri Fraternal Order of Police. Finally, the video footage showing Ms. Forte using this derogatory analogy of a crying baby was posted, showing that the incident in question took place at the December 7, 2017 city council meeting. She responded to the video by saying that her words were taken out of context rather than denying it completely like she did initially.
Here are my thoughts on this. First of all, Ms. Forte lied on Facebook and in our phone call. She said nothing like this was ever said in any meeting, which has now been proven false. I am only 16, but I know for certain that you should not use the word “crybaby” to refer to a situation in which hundreds of men and women are vastly underpaid in comparison to 15 surrounding departments. The fact that she threw this statement out there with such disregard and carelessness just shows how much Ms. Forte cares about the people who courageously serve our community despite the fact that the pay is low by a considerable sum. We live in a community in which those who deserve the most receive less. So much, in fact, that they are struggling to receive applicants. I am proud of my father. He works hard for my family and my community, and he deserves better. Each and every one of them deserve better. If there is anyone who is going to make sure their courage is paid for accordingly, it is NOT Diane Forte.