Kansas City, Kansas, Mayor Mark Holland issued a statement Thursday morning saying that he had been the victim of a threat by a KCK firefighter and had notified the Kansas Bureau of Investigation.
Holland, mayor and CEO of the Unified Government of Wyandotte County/Kansas City, Kansas, said the firefighter, Chris Wing, had threatened him on Facebook with a post stating, “You might need a security detail when you start witch hunts like so …”
The mayor’s statement was accompanied by a screen shot of the threat, which he said was made in response to a robocall Holland sent Wednesday evening informing the public of a meeting he has called for 7 p.m. this evening to discuss a Unified Government report about the fire department.
The report found that KCK firefighters had been paid $920,000 in taxpayer money last year for work they didn’t do. It said the money went to firefighters who were paid for shifts they traded away without reciprocating. Only six of the department’s 391 firefighters exchanged an equal number of hours, the report found, while 237 firefighters split the $920,000 for time not worked.
“The kind of threat that Chris Wing made will not be tolerated,” Holland said in the statement. “To be sure, there are many, many good, hard working, honorable and brave firefighters on our staff. They put their lives on the line to keep us safe. But the threat Chris Wing made is intolerable. It is an example of the hostile mentality that pervades our Fire Union leadership.
“For years that leadership has controlled our Fire Department operations, yielding its power through a well-funded political machine that few politicians in this community have been willing to confront. That machine opposed me in the 2017 mayoral election for my willingness to hold it accountable for its corrupt practices. I paid the price for taking that principled stance by losing the election.”
Holland was defeated in his bid for re-election by Rockhurst High School Assistant Principal David Alvey, who was supported by the firefighters union. Alvey, who assumes office next week, could not immediately be reached for comment.
Holland noted that Wing is the son of KCK Fire Captain Bob Wing, who is also the business manager for the union, IAFF Local No. 64. Holland said that Bob Wing “has been at the center of the corrupt practice of paying other firefighters to work shifts, a practice that has resulted in a loss of nearly $1 million dollars to our taxpayers and, more important, has jeopardized the safety of other firefighters and the public at large. Bob Wing was the top abuser of this practice, having paid others to work all of his shifts in 2017.”
Neither Chris Wing nor Bob Wing returned calls requesting comment.
Dan Margolies is a senior reporter and editor for KCUR. You can reach him on Twitter @DanMargolies.