Controversial 9/11 float receives standing ovations
Tom Murray reports. Video by 620wtmj.comvideo
RACINE - Matt Gorniak, a lieutenant with the Oak Creek Fire Department, enlisted his church youth group to assemble a Fourth of July parade float. It is a take on the iconic photograph of firefighters hoisting a flag near Ground Zero.
"I've had nothing but people saying 'we're with you, we want to stand with you'," Gorniak told TODAY'S TMJ4 reporter Tom Murray.
However, Gorniak did not have much help this year from other firefighters. Gorniak, a supporter of Republican Governor Scott Walker, uses a rare legal provision that allows him to opt out of paying full union dues. So, the Racine firefighters union decided not to endorse his float.
"They weren't going to stop their guys from marching behind, to show support," Gorniak explained. "They just weren't letting them know about it."
Craig Ford, president of IAFF Local 321, insists it was not a boycott.
"Racine firefighters are chastised for not trying to use our union resources to support a personal project of a fair share member," Ford said in phone interview.
Parade watchers rose to their feet with applause when Gorniak's float passed in Oak Creek. There was a similar show of appreciation in Racine.
In the Racine parade, a handful of supporters walked behind the float. The supporters included a few uniformed firefighters.
Ford said he did not participate personally in the Racine parade in any capacity.