Say what you will about Mission firefighter Alejandro "Alex" Gonzalez: that he thinks with his dick, that he was perhaps overly consumed by the Valentine's Day spirit to the detriment of the community he served, or that he perhaps took George Strait's "The Fireman" too closely to heart.
One thing is certain: He's certainly not lacking in the chutzpah department. How many of us would have the nerve to demand our jobs back after [allegedly] getting caught with our pants down, shagging someone while on the clock?
Almost exactly a year ago, in the wee hours of February 19, a female dispatcher at the Mission fire station came in to get started on a morning of dishwashing. When she entered the dayroom, she claimed to have walked in on the following scene, taken from the subsequent arbritrator's ruling as reported in the McAllen Monitor:
"She heard noises such as moaning and groaning, and, upon entering the dayroom, she saw firefighter Gonzalez sitting in a chair with a female on top of him 'jumping' up and down." She testified the female was dressed only in panties and a bra, and that firefighter Gonzalez's shorts were down on his legs."
An investigation of surveillance video later revealed that the woman had indisputably come to the station just before midnight, and had used Gonzalez's keycard to enter several restricted areas at the firehouse.
In the subsequent inquiry, perhaps Gonzalez tried the George Costanza "Was that wrong?" gambit. If he did, the result was the same: for allowing the woman to use his keycard to access the restricted areas, and several other offenses, Gonzalez was "suspended indefinitely," which is bureaucrat-ese for "shit-canned."
And the seven-year veteran has been fighting back ever since. A few months later, an independent arbitrator ruled that he committed no firing offense. The arbitrator contends that the dispatcher is not credible, and there is no video evidence of sexual activities to back her testimony.
According to the arbitrator, Gonzalez erred only in allowing the woman to visit, without permission and after hours, and in letting her use his keycard to access forbidden areas. For these venial sins, the arbitrator prescribed a ten-day unpaid suspension as fitting penance.
The City of Mission disagrees. They believe that the dispatcher is a credible witness and that Gonzalez should be fired for hanky-panky on the clock. An appeal against the arbitrator has been filed with the 13th Court of Appeals.
"And if we have to go to the (Texas) Supreme Court to uphold that and the decency of our Fire Department, that's what we'll do," said Mayor Norberto Salinas. "For him to call us and ask us to put him back on the job after what he did isn't right."
The head of the local firefighters union disagrees, saying he "is tired of the city's runaround." The same goes for Gonzalez's attorney, Craig Deats: "We, of course, wish that the city would simply admit defeat and put this firefighter back to work."
George Strait and Costanza would likely agree.
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