Killeen: Firefighters say they're not wanted at councilman’s meeting

(Photo by Kathleen Serie)

KILLEEN, Texas (KWTX) The Killeen Professional Firefighters’ Association published a letter addressed to Killeen City Council Member Gregory Johnson Sunday afternoon on its Facebook page, regarding tensions between Johnson and the first responder community.

The letter, authored by association President Marc Clifford, said the following about participation at Johnson’s upcoming meet and greet discussion:

“Recently, you informed our organization that our members would not be allowed to attend your upcoming town hall meeting because of what you perceive as tensions between you and the first responder community,” Clifford wrote in the letter.

Johnson said the meet and greet is open to the public, and to members of both the Killeen Professional Firefighters’ Association and the Killeen Police Employee Association, but that he has requested three individuals not attend the meeting.

Johnson said he made the decision after seeing a negative Facebook post about his relationship with the first responder community, authored by resident Kimberly Hornsby Wagner in December.

He said he “dis-invited” Hornsby Wagner, Clifford, and Killeen Police Employee Association President Bobby Castillo from his event because he did not want them to disrupt the meet and greet with what he called “personal vendettas.”

Johnson wrote the following in an email to Clifford in response to a question about the upcoming meet and greet:

“Tensions are very high between myself and members of the Killeen first responder community, especially after the recent social media post by Kimberly Hornsby Wagner,” Johnson wrote. “Because of these circumstances, I am declining certain people from attending or participating in my meet and greet. I refuse to have my event overran by people with personal agendas or seeking to undermine me in my role as a city Councilmember. She as well as you and others will not be allowed to attend the event. I have been assured that proper personnel will be present to assist should there be any problems with any uninvited or disruptive guests.”

Johnson said he informed Interim City Manager Dennis Baldwin about the potential issue, and that non-emergency personnel will be on standby for the Saturday meet and greet, should Johnson feel threatened.

The firefighters’ association and Johnson have been at odds since last year.

“Over the past year, our organization has been welcomed by all other councilmembers to discuss the lack of fire and EMS coverage in the southern areas of Killeen, the closing of fire stations, a reduction in force, and the elimination of a deputy chief position,” Clifford wrote in the letter.

In December, Clifford said Johnson had not been as willing to hear the organization’s opinions on various city decisions as other members of the council.

“However, your actions have led us to believe that you do not value the opinions of those working on the frontlines, or that you are not as concerned with public safety as you profess,” Clifford wrote in the letter.

In response, Johnson said he prefers to talk directly to individual police officers and fire fighters, rather than through police and fire associations.