Updated below (7/18/09)
What does Supreme Court justice nominee Sonia Sotomayor's confirmation hearing before the U.S. Senate Judiciary CommitteeÂ have to do withÂ a COSH group, specifically the Connecticut Council on Occupational Safety and Health (ConnectiCOSH)?
Well, one of the witnesses invited to testify by the minority (Republican) members of the Committee is New Haven, CT fire fighter, Frank Ricci.Â He was theÂ lead plaintiff inÂ a discrimination case, ruled upon by a three-judge panel which included judge Sotomayor, and overturned in a 5-4 decision last month by the U.S. Supreme Court.Â
According to Mr. Frank Ricci's website, he is "Director of Fire Services for ConnectiCOSH."Â Here's the problem:Â ConnectiCOSH doesn't haveÂ a director of fire services, andÂ according to organization'sÂ leadership, Mr. Ricci does not hold ANY elected or appointed position with their group.Â Â
TPMDC has a copy of a letter sent by ConnectiCOSH to Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy, setting the record straight about Mr. Ricci's affiliation with Connecti-COSH.Â Â For our benefit, TPMDC has a screenshot of fire fighter Ricci's website on which he claims:
"serves as the Director of Fire Services for ConnectiCOSH."
I hope theÂ Senate Judiciary Committee postsÂ a copy of Mr. Ricci's written statementÂ on their webpage to see if he makes the claim in his testimony as well.Â He is scheduled to testify today (July 16).
P.S.Â ConnectiCOSH's Steve Schrag will be awarded the Tony Mazzocchi award at the 2009 American Public Health Association's OHS Section awards luncheon on November 10 at the Philadelphia Convention Center.Â (See full OHS Section program here)
Update (7/18/09): Paul Bass of the New Haven Independent reports that ConnectiCOSH has clarified its relationship with fire fighter Frank Ricci, quoting SteveÂ Schrag:Â
"It appears that 5-6 years ago ConnectiCOSH business cards with Mr. Ricciâs name were printed, however he was only authorized to represent ConnectiCOSH in fire safety related issues as a volunteer."
The New Haven Independent's story links to Steve Schrag's second letter to Senate Leahy.Â They alsoÂ links to a recent (June 28, 2009) article in theÂ Connecticut Post, "Stickers would warn firefighters of danger,"Â Â in which Frank Ricci testified before the Derby, CT Board of Alderman and described as representating ConnectiCOSH.Â I'll try to find out from Steve Schrag whether in that setting, while speaking about a fire safety issue, he was representing the views of ConnectiCOSH.
Although it has been years since I have seen Frank Ricci at a ConnectiCOSH annual meeting or training program, it appears that he has been active on fire safety issues. He apparently did testify at that Derby hearing and was instrumental in setting up a meeting on some fire retardant legislation that we worked on this year.
This ConnectiCOSH approval obviously does not carry over to his legal activities as a New Haven firefighter. ConnectiCOSH has never taken a position on a Supreme Court nominee and unless the nominee was as pro-worker as Eula Bingham or as anti-worker as Thorne Auchter it is not likely we ever will.
ConnectiCOSH will be reviewing our policies and procedures about who can and cannot speak for us and under what conditions and titles. We do not wish to face similarly confusioning situations in the future.
Thanks for the additional information about ConnectiCOSH and Frank Ricci.