Protests Pour Gas on Budget Fires
Today firemen and teachers in Los Angeles staged protests against proposed budget cuts. The L.A. Times reports:
Dozens of firefighters in matching white T-shirts packed City Hall on Friday to protest a budget proposal that would cut 18 fire companies and four ambulances from the Los Angeles Fire Department.
The proposed cuts are part of Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa’s $6.9-billion budget, which the City Council took up Friday. In all, hundreds were signing up to address the council.
The fire department cuts call for engines or ambulances at about one-fourth of the city’s 106 fire stations to be put out of service permanently. A small number of stations would gain services.
Los Angeles Fire Chief Millage Peaks has said that the redeployment plan would save the city more than $53 million in the next fiscal year and put an end to unpopular service “brownouts” the department instituted after the budget reductions in 2009.
But firefighters, who have the support of at least three City Council members, lined up to criticize the mayor’s budget.
“He’s telling us to abandon communities in this city,” said Pat McOsker, the president of the United Firefighters of Los Angeles City. “We’re not abandoning those communities without a fight.”
Instead, why doesn’t the city cut firemen’s massive pay pensions — if necessary, even further.
Or how about breaking up the massive department into smaller units? The union boss doesn’t want the city to “abandon communities.” Then how about giving those communities autonomy over fire protection?
Indeed, why not break up Los Angeles, a gargantuan, dysfunctional city?
And for the ultimate solution: Why not switch to private or volunteer fire departments? VFDs operate all over the country. A lot of guys, after a boring 9 to 5 job, like to spend evenings or weekends training to protect their communities. The communities pay for equipment, buildings and training. But the firemen are unpaid volunteers.
In fact, 71 percent of firemen in America are volunteers.
In these tough budget times, innovative thinking is needed. But it’s still lacking in Los Angeles.
And in Pershing Square, teachers abandoned their young students to ignorance to protest proposed budget cuts and class-size reductions. Again, the question is: If they’re so concerned about class-size reductions, why don’t they accept cuts to their more-than-generous pay and pensions packages?
Here’s a YouTube of the protest:
May 13, 2011
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