Fire Department funding

I attended tonight’s City Council meeting, and boy was it an eye opener. It confirmed my decision a few weeks back not to take a position on the recent cuts in Fire Dept funding. My concern is that I just don’t know the whole story. After all, I’m not on the City Council (yet), and I haven’t been part of all the necessary discussions, so it’s difficult for me to say “yes I agree” or “no I don’t agree”. One significant factor in all of this is the union and their dealings with the city. As a common citizen, I’m just not privy to all the discussions and negotiations on the topic.

That said, I should say that over the years I’ve had good faith and trust in our City Council and their decisions. They are good people who love our city as much as I do, and they make tough decisions with good intentions. So I tend to give them the benefit of the doubt.

At tonight’s meeting, they decided to call back a firefighter who was temporarily laid off, an act that sparked further discussion about the whole issue. I learned a few things that I had not known. First, that the city had intended to call back this firefighter all along if they were able to find the funding (some open positions in other departments were eliminated permanently to save money). Second, that once the firefighter started working again, the paid-on-call firefighters would immediately be put back to work, with no further action needed by the council to make that happen. One alderperson seemed to be as surprised as I was. And I’m sure there is still even more here that I don’t know. Granted, if I dig hard enough and ask the right questions of the right people, I could get many questions answered. But that takes time and it’s not as simple as it sounds.

Also, the Fire Chief grabbed me after the meeting and invited me to come to the station to learn about what they do and get any questions answered. So I’m going to do that next week. I’m also having lunch with a firefighter this Friday, and I met with the Asst Fire Chief a couple of weeks ago. So, I’m still listening with an open mind and learning as much as I can, which is about the best I can do during the campaign.