Las Vegas Sun

October 22, 2016

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Fire union official defends heavy use of sick leave in ’09

During the public comment portion of last week’s Clark County Commission meeting, firefighter Eddie Beaman spoke. He said he wanted to explain that the sick leave he took in 2009, which county negotiators cited during contract negotiations as an example of how firefighters might be abusing the sick-leave system, was legitimate.

Without identifying the person, he said he took that time to care for family members, one of whom had cancer, and that his wife had shoulder surgery.

What were his exact words?

“I think that once that list” — of firefighters who used a month of sick leave in 2009 — “was put out there by the county with the 231 people that was put on it. I mean, it kind of put a little shadow on some of the people ... out there such as myself ... I had never had any overuse of sick leave up until ’09. I think that this has got to come out, because I had never really wanted to say anything about my family or anything that happens to me, I think that’s personal with my own life ... I think that the way that the news media is portraying me as being one of these guys who uses excessive sick leave has got to be explained. In ’09, my wife, she had shoulder surgery. Along with that, we had a member of our family who was diagnosed with cancer ... ”

Sounds like a good explanation. What’s the county say?

Last week, county management said they will wait until an investigation is complete before deciding who, if anyone, deserves to be punished for abusing the benefit. Earlier, the county had outlined possible punishment for proven abusers: forfeit of 144 hours of sick time and possible demotion or firing.

Is there a way to check Beaman’s story — that he never overused sick leave until 2009?

The Sun wrote about Beaman’s sick leave a few weeks ago. Beaman is not only a member of various firefighter union committees, he is the father of Ryan Beaman, the union’s president.

County Commissioner Steve Sisolak cited Eddie Beaman’s connections to the union and his 2009 sick-leave use to dismiss the union’s contention that it had little knowledge of sick-leave overuse.

As to the question of Eddie Beaman’s use of sick leave in previous years, here’s a breakdown:

2009: 427 hours, or 18 shifts (firefighters’ shifts are 24 hours).

2008: 205 hours, or 8.5 shifts.

2007: 275 hours, or 11.5 shifts.

2006: 355 hours, or 15 shifts.

Indeed, it looks as if Beaman never reached the 18 shifts that he took off in 2009. But he did take considerable sick leave.

Is 15 shifts overuse? Perhaps that’s in the eye of the sick-leave beholder.

Sisolak has scoffed at all the sick leave used by some firefighters. Even though they call in sick often, they manage to collect a ton of overtime, he notes. Additionally, sick leave isn’t their only time off. Union members get time off for union duties. Then there’s vacation time.

In 2009, Beaman’s total time off reached 1,047 hours, or 36 percent of his total work time. That included 212 hours for union duties.

So how do Beaman’s year-to-year overtime and callback earnings stack up? (Callback is overtime plus contributions to pension funds; by contract, firefighters earn callback if they are called in to work within 12 hours of their previous shift.)

Steve Sisolak

Steve Sisolak

In 2009, Eddie Beaman earned $67,383 in callback and overtime; in 2008, he earned $61,428; in 2007, he earned $61,377; and in 2006, $65,422.


Rumors are circulating in the Clark County Government Center about Sisolak possibly making a run for U.S. Senate in 2012.

Any truth to it?

Sisolak, a Democrat, admitted he has been asked by more than one person to run for embattled Republican Sen. John Ensign’s seat. He added, however, that he is “happy being a county commissioner.”

“I’m flattered people are asking,” he also said. “But I like what I’m doing right now.”

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