We’ve been talking about the Eureka Public Safety funding problem since before Measure Q and more recently talked about the Police Union funding a forensic audit. That’s all well and good we really want to see it, but in the mean time the City Council is poised to make big cuts in the Department that will seriously affect how policing is done in Eureka. These changes will increase Fire and emergency response times that could cost people’s lives.
Eureka’s organized Firefighters are standing up against Greg Sparks the City Manager. The big question is; will the EPOA, who represents Chief Mills broken and dysfunctional Eureka Police Department, have the courage to speak out?
They’ll need to do it soon.
We think they should be trying to rally all the supporters of Measure Q to show up the City Council and demand the City at least try and soften the draconian cuts in public safety purposed by the city manager.
Read this Editorial from the TS by a member of the Fire fighters union:
By Jeff Broberg
Measure Q passed in November with nearly 67 percent of the vote. Its margin of victory was the most decisive in recent memory in Humboldt County. The percentage of victory is made even more impressive when you consider the large number of votes that were cast in favor of continuing a tax.
Unfortunately, citizens of Eureka now find themselves in a position to defend that vote on June 3 in council chambers. The council will hear the new city manager’s recommended budget cuts to public safety, along with public input from those in attendance. Who will Eureka’s City Council listen to? I think they should listen to the results of the election . They already heard loud and clear in the form of votes what to do. Was this vote just a suggestion? Are these results to be outweighed by the personal opinion and recommendation of our new city manager to close Fire Station 4 anyway?
Who will Eureka’s City Council listen to?
In August, Eureka’s city manager made it clear to public safety labor groups and department heads that serious cuts were certain if the 1⁄2 percent sales tax (Measure O) was not renewed as Measure Q in November. The cuts were published on a pamphlet from the city manager’s office and on the city’s website. Most notable was the closure of Fire Station 4 at Myrtle and West, and the loss of Eureka Police Department’s Problem Oriented Policing Unit. Together with the community, your firefighters and police officers fought against these cuts by way of a citywide campaign and the election process.
Humboldt Bay firefighters stand with the voting majority who supported Measure Q.
The voters passed measure Q so as NOT to have these cuts to public safety. Who will Eureka’s City Council listen to?
The voters? The city manager?
The city manager had publicly defended the decision to close Fire Station 4 even with the passage of Measure Q stating that it was your firefighters who made the erroneous claim that Measure Q would keep that station open, not the city. This inaccurate redirection of blame and forgetfulness is very disappointing.
This is a direct suggestion that your firefighters misled you.
Humboldt Bay Fire’s mission is to serve the community, not deceive it. To the city manager’s credit, when facts to the contrary were clearly pointed out to him in plain sight, he did publicly apologize in a letter to the Times-Standard.
Humboldt Bay Fire held a meeting with Eureka’s city manager recently to give him the opportunity to clarify his stance on cuts to public safety even after the passage of Measure Q. The city manager discussed the need to cut “discretionary” spending from the city’s budget. When asked for an example of a discretionary expense in the fire department budget. He answered “Fire Station 4.”
I don’t think the citizens served directly by Fire Station 4, including citizens living at Silvercrest and Alder Bay Senior Living, would call their fire station “discretionary.”
Considering an unconscious heart attack or stroke victim has precious few minutes for survival or that a fire doubles in size every minute, I would hardly call a few extra minutes because of a closed fire station “discretionary.”
Eureka’s citizens are wise enough to know how easy it is to say that even 100 percent of Measure Q money will go to public safety. Unless this money is in addition to original general fund dollars for public safety you end up with a shell game that can easily put extra dollars anywhere else while technically “upholding” the “intent” of Measure Q. Eureka citizens expect their police and fire protection to be funded properly and fully from the general fund from the beginning.
Who should Eureka’s City Council listen to? Thousands of its citizens who clearly agreed to continue to pay a tax to keep Fire Station 4 open OR the city manager who is advising council to collect this tax and make most of those cuts anyway?
If you are concerned about 1) the reduction of police and fire protection, 2) the sanctity of election results, and 3) the proper ongoing funding for public safety, then attend the budget meeting on June 3 and make your council listen to you.
Jeff Broberg is a member of Humboldt Bay Professional Firefighters, Local 652.
Humboldt Bay firefighters stand with the voting majority who supported Measure Q.
Here is an interesting take on draconian budget cuts in this opinion piece in the Mad River Union:
Eureka Police Chief Mills is the latest public official to suggest that the need to provide pensions and health care to employees is best addressed through layoffs and cutbacks.
This approach means that a number of people are about to lose their jobs and through some magical process only achievable through “free market” capitalism, the economy will benefit from more unemployment. Even better would be to reduce wages and cut benefits altogether.
This idea of approaching prosperity through lower wages, fewer benefits and fewer jobs dates back to the 1980s, a time in which I was still working as a reporter and covering school board meetings.
At that time, teaching was considered an honorable profession. Teachers were admirable figures, but economic policy was shifting to the “Trickle Down” theory that required changes from a progressive tax policy in which the more you made the more you paid to a policy wherein the less you made the more you paid. If you made a lot you didn’t have to pay anything at all.
We’ve been riding this dead horse down the path to prosperity for 40-some years now and we’re further away from propsperity than ever. Our standard of living is declining. More and more of us are living paycheck to paycheck.
Having a job is not guarantee of solvency. Well more than half of the folks receiving social net benefits like food and rent assistance are employed. They just don’t make enough to support themselves.
The way our economic scenario is playing out reminds me very much of the War on Drugs. With absolutely no evidence that the theory is sound, until very recently the majority of citizens believed that even though it wasn’t working and drugs are readily available on every street corner, the war must continue.
So, too, with our economic policies. Belief in capitalism is holding firm and many are ready to throw stones at anyone who suggests it is other than the perfect accompaniment to the American Way.
Never mind that economic growth has declined to less than one percent. Never mind that sales tax revenues don’t meet promised projections because people can’t afford to buy anything.
Blame the unions, blame the teachers, blame the mail carriers, blame the prison guards, the police, the fire departments.
Do anything but take a cold hard look at the collapse of our society and our economy.
Blame the homeless, the drug addicts, the large numbers of unemployed folks in Detroit and Baltimore who are failing to pull themselves up by their bootstraps.
The general sense is that the War on Drugs may be on its way out.
Unfortunately, capitalism isn’t and won’t be as long as the capitalists are in control and convinced that there’s plenty of money to be squeezed out of us poor rubes yet.
Mary Ella Anderson recommends a heavy dose of alternative economics, such as that given by Dr. Richard D. Wolff and Bill Black.