Warren City Council discusses firefighters, marijuana at meeting

The meeting ended with council not deciding upon the fire department's captains and deciding to delay any medical marijuana related businesses from opening

WARREN, Ohio (WYTV) – At a meeting Wednesday night, Warren City Council delayed voting on reducing the number and changing the duties of captains in the city’s fire department.

At the meeting, Joe Jerina, president of the Warren Firefighters Union, explained why he and the other firefighters oppose the idea of cutting the number of captains from six to three and eliminating the requirement that captains be part of all inspections.

Jerina started with everything the firefighters have done for the city.

“Where did this get us? We get blind sided. We have taken our share of hits and to be frankly honest we have taken the majority of it,” he said.

Before the meeting, Jerina explained why he thinks the city wants the changes.

“We believe it’s retaliatory for not signing our contract,” he said.

Enzo Cantalamessa, Warren’s director of Service and Safety, said the changes will save money and that it’s not a retaliation.

“We promoted a firefighter captain last week. If it were retaliatory why would we have done that?” he said.

Council decided to delay the vote on the fire department captains until after a committee meeting next Tuesday.

The council also voted to place a one-year moratorium on anything related to medical marijuana, which in September became legal in Ohio. The guidelines are still being debated though.

“We’re just being protective of our city, making sure that someone doesn’t try and come in and set up shop prior to the guts of this bill being spelled out by the state of Ohio,” said councilman John Brown.

That vote, however, was 6-3 for passage – not all council members thought a moratorium was a good idea.

“We don’t want to close our doors where a business says the door is closed before I can even come in,” said councilwoman Helen Rucker.

So, the meeting ended with council not deciding upon the department’s captains and deciding to delay any medical marijuana related businesses from opening.

At a committee meeting before the regular meeting, Warren City Council also learned it may have to spend $200,000 more next year to keep the Community Development Department operating. If not, it faces the possibility of not allocating federal money for 22 non-profit agencies.