Sen. Boyer on the City of Glendale's failure to follow state law and support Fire Captain Kevin
"For 27 years, Glendale Fire Captain Kevin Thompson has put his life on the line serving his city. Kevin has worked his way up the ranks to a leadership role in the fire department, and he has run tens of thousands of emergency calls, helping to save countless lives.
Now it’s Kevin turn to face an emergency: a potentially deadly form of cancer known as multiple myeloma.
Unfortunately, the City of Glendale – the city this frontline fire fighter has faithfully served for more than a quarter century – continues to leave Kevin hanging when it comes to worker’s compensation insurance.
Last week, I called Glendale out on their failure to follow state law and their failure to support Kevin Thompson and his loved ones as they fight for his life. To be sure, my criticism was blunt, because I feel strongly that Arizona’s cities should follow the law. And in this instance, state law could not be more clear. And I quote:
2. Any disease, infirmity or impairment of a firefighter's health that is caused by buccal cavity and pharynx, esophagus, large intestine, lung, kidney, prostate, skin, stomach or testicular cancer or non-hodgkin's lymphoma, multiple myeloma or malignant melanoma and that results in disability or death is presumed to be an occupational disease as defined in section 23-901, paragraph 13, subdivision (c) and is deemed to arise out of employment.
I’m very familiar with that law because in 2017 I was the primary sponsor of House Bill 2161, which encoded that sentence into Arizona Revised Statute 23-901.01. Frankly, the law could not be more clear, a point recognized by cities around the state who have responded by doing the right thing and covering fire fighters who battle cancer caused by their very dangerous jobs. Sadly, some cities continue to resist this law – despite guidance from Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich, who back in April wrote to the Arizona League of Cities and Towns clarifying the law.
As the Attorney General put it: “The Office has received reports that first responders are having insurance claims based on state law amendments improperly denied …. These seemingly improper denials suggest that some municipalities may not be aware of their responsibilities under the newly amended statutes or alternatively, are disregarding the state law requirements. Accordingly, the Office requests that the League share this letter with its members to remind them of the requirements mandated by … HB 2161.”
Glendale is obviously very aware of these requirements. In the last 24 hours they have released both a letter to residents and a video from Mayor Jerry Weiers attacking me personally and trying to wriggle out of their responsibility to Capt. Thompson. To be honest, their attacks on me come as no surprise. That’s just politics. When the facts aren’t on your side, you attack people and do everything in your power to change the subject. Glendale rhetoric about public safety budgets and fire fighter pay and the city’s respect for its public safety workers are a bunch of pretty words – words that fly in the face of the city’s conduct on multiple levels.
The facts are simple: Capt. Kevin Thompson has multiple myeloma, a form of cancer specifically cited by statue as presumed to be caused by his job. Under the law, the City of Glendale is obligated to help cover the cost of his treatment through worker’s compensation. This Glendale has not done.
I will continue to keep fighting this fight, because it’s the right thing to do. Let’s hope Glendale soon comes to its senses and begins to fight the real enemy. Not me, a state senator who serves residents of Glendale.
Cancer, the evil disease attacking Kevin Thompson’s body and his health."