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Baenen to stay, for now

Ryan Carter

Uncle Sam wants city Disaster Preparedness Coordinator Rich

Baenen, but so does the city.

With military build-ups in the Middle East, Baenen was on the

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verge of being called to active duty this week with the U.S. Coast

Guard.

But the city doesn’t want to let him go without a fight. Baenen, a

civilian employee, runs the city’s disaster programs with the help of

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only an administrative assistant. Before a city hiring freeze, Fire

Capt. Ron Barone worked alongside Baenen. But with a looming cuts

from the state, the city is moving Barone back to the line.

Weeks ago, Baenen received notice for the second time since the

terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, he was being called up for

active duty.

The last time Baenen went -- two days after Sept. 11 -- he left

his city post for 10 months. This time, Baenen received a call-up

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letter that gave him a choice, but added not to make any plans after

Monday, since he might be required to take his post in the Coast

Guard.

“I think it’s better than 50% that I can stay,” Baenen said. “I

haven’t packed yet.”

Baenen said he’s written to his superiors, informing them of his

post here and the importance of staying. He is waiting for a

response.

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If Baenen is sent away, a fire captain would have to be pulled off

the line to take over Baenen’s spot. But Baenen would like to find an

assistant who could work with him and cover for him full-time,

buffering his small division.

City Manager Bud Ovrom and Fire Chief Mike Davis have met to talk

about the future of the division. They agreed to send letters to

Baenen’s Coast Guard superiors, asking he be able to remain here. One

letter has been written by Ovrom and another letter will be sent by

Mayor David Laurell to Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Burbank) to ask for his

support in retaining Baenen.

“We only have one person in that job,” Ovrom said. “We can’t

afford to lose him.”


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