PHOENIX — A Phoenix City Council member claimed he has been receiving potentially threatening messages from members of the city’s police and fire departments who disagree with his stance on public safety issues.
The message senders appear to be concerned about pension change and other issues that could affect their livelihood.
“You can call it bullying, you can call it whatever you’d like, but I think I’m definitely being used as an example,” said Phoenix City Councilman Sal DiCiccio.
DiCiccio said most of the messages, sent via social media, have come from firefighters.
In a memo obtained by KTAR, DiCiccio requested additional patrols — something any citizen can do — during recent elections. He said he also hired off-duty police officers to protect his wife and children because of the threatening messages.
DiCiccio provided KTAR with copies of messages that have been forwarded to the Phoenix Police Department for review.
One message reads, “Puke. [Expletive] you. How about those benefits? How about that job after getting our [expletive] shot off, there, sport? [Expletive] hang yourself.”
Another reads, “If Sals [sic] house is on fire, being broken into, or him or one of his family members is sick or dying, don’t know who is going to save you and your family’s life.”
While admitting that one of the messages is inappropriate, United Phoenix Firefighters Association President Pete Gorraiz said Diciccio has not made many friends with first responders.
“He’s a liar,” said Gorraiz. “He makes up stories then tell taxpayers he’s going to protect them.”
Gorraiz accused DiCiccio of costing taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars with his accusations.
“He’s like a modern day Don Quixote, attacking windmills and saying they are monsters and it’s just simply not true. That’s what has so many people upset and he keeps doing it,” said Gorraiz.
The embattled councilman said he had a meeting with Phoenix Police Chief Daniel Garcia and Phoenix Fire Chief Bob Khan last month and the questionable behavior has not ceased.
“I just want the negativity to stop,” said Diciccio.
Phoenix police said it has received many forwarded messages from DiCiccio’s camp and about a dozen have been closely evaluated as potential threats. However, none have been categorized as criminal behavior.
“None of them are threats,” said Gorraiz. “Firefighters are taxpayers, we’re Little League coaches, we raise over $1 million for charity every year, these are some of the best citizens that Phoenix has. If he wants to waste his money on extra patrols, that’s on him.”
Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton and one unnamed city councilor said they had no knowledge of the messages and declined to comment on the situation.