Expatriate Owl

A politically-incorrect perspective that does not necessarily tow the party line, on various matters including but not limited to taxation, academia, government and religion.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Rest in Peace, Lt. Robert J. Ryan, Jr.

The Fire Department of the City of New York, which has already paid a very steep price for its collective excellence and dedication in protecting the city's populace, has lost another of its Bravest. Lt. Robert J. Ryan, Jr. fell in the line of duty while attempting to extinguish a fire in a Staten Island home. I, of course, proffer the all too usual condolences and regrets. My specific comments, other than those standard procedural sentiments, are as follows:

A. The posting of 16 November 2008 questions New York City's promotion policies for its uniformed services, including but not limited to posthumous promotions for those incurring line of duty deaths. This is, of course, an unpopular subject, but New York, like any other governmental unit, has the need for fiscal prudence, and also the need to appropriately reward/punish its employees for their performance. Oftentimes, these two imperatives are propelled on a collision course with one another, particularly in times such as this when the budget is exceedingly tight.

I do not know whether Lt. Ryan will be posthumously promoted to Captain, and do not now pass any judgment as to whether he should or should not be so promoted. What I do assert is that the decision, one way or the other, ought to be based upon the particular facts and merits of the individual case, whatever they happen to be.

B. Reportedly, Lt. Ryan was seriously burned in 2005 while responding to a fire. He worked hard to recover and to rehabilitate himself for more than a year, so that he could once again join the ranks of the active FDNY. Plenty of governmental employees have no doubt retired on disability for injuries which are superficial in comparison with Lt. Ryan's 2005 burns. Lt. Ryan surely could have gone into retirement and collected his monthly check while finding gainful employment in some sinecure position (or, perhaps, totally retired altogether). He affirmatively chose to make a comeback with FDNY. While this should not be dispositive in any posthumous promotion decision, it certainly should be among the many relevant factors.

C. Lt. Ryan apparently did work to reconstitute his firefighting unit following its personnel losses in the wake of the September 11th attack. This could not have been as easy as it sounds.

D. It is now reported that the occupant of the house which collapsed upon Lt. Ryan escaped unharmed. I know nothing about this person, but fervently hope that he or she is worth the trade, and will, in his or her own way, make positive contributions to society, just as Lt. Ryan did in his own way.

Rest in Peace, Lt. Ryan. Your family and colleagues have every reason to be proud of you!

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