The mayor says, "Everything is on the table" when talking about the projected budget deficit for next year and how to address it. The problem is the mayor is only willing to put cuts and reductions on the table and that will do no good. The table is not big enough for all the programs, services, jobs and expenses that would need to be cut to balance the budget next year. Projections surfacing from city hall indicate across the board 24% cuts will be necessary to help close the deficit. The mayor still refuses to discuss increasing revenue by raising fees, taxes and charging for the services provided to taxpayers.
Andrea Tevlin is the only person talking about increasing revenues and at the same time acknowledging reductions and elimination of services and jobs will not be sufficient to close the deficit. The discussion regarding increasing revenues does not seem to fit on the table for the discussions taking place if the mayor is in the room. His adamant refusal to entertain discussion related to revenue increases is hypocritical. He has not had a second thought when he increased the retirement contribution of employees by refusing to honor prior commitments achieved through negotiations where the city begged employees to settle for the city picking up a percentage of the employees retirement contribution in lieu of a pay raise. He has not thought twice of making employees pay more of the premium for medical insurance, even after demanding the Unions give up control of their own medical insurances with a promise of lower premiums and additional dollars to go towards these premiums.
If the SDPD eliminates 24% of its staffing, we lose approximately 450 employees. Drastic and unrealistic; or is it? If 24% of the 2010 Fiscal budget for the police department is eliminated, we would lose approximately 105 million of a 424 million dollar budget. Drastic and unrealistic; or is it? The mayor says we are selfish, unbending, and unrealistic and think we deserve more than any of the other departments and employees in the city. Can someone answer this question; are we being unrealistic, selfish and unbending when we refuse to agree with the mayor's cuts and reductions to public safety?
The bottom line is the mayor cannot continue to cut, slash and reduce the police department any more than he already has. To do so would be patently criminal and unacceptable at any level. Selfish; maybe. Unbending; possibly. Unrealistic; absolutely! I would suggest every member of the department take stock of his or her position and responsibilities as a police officer. Do you feel adequate staffing is available during the shift you work? Do you feel you have the ability to take a day off when you feel the need due to stress or fatigue? Do you feel pressured to cut corners when doing your job so you can free yourself to be available to assist with additional calls for service; thus not doing the job you know is necessary? Do you pass up taking enforcement action due to a lack of adequate staffing and cover? Do you devote more than 75% of your duties to answering calls for service?
If you answer yes to any of the above questions, you need to have a very frank and honest discussion with your loves ones. You need to explain your fears, frustrations and the realities of your job and the lack of support you are receiving from the mayor and city. Let your family know you are working under these dangerous conditions. Share with them the numbers of officers working the shift you work and why this is dangerous and unacceptable. Who will be held accountable for your injury or death? As we move toward additional cuts to the police department, keep your family informed and document in a diary in some way the safety concerns you have and the lack of staffing you experience. We are currently working on borrowed time and face the real possibility we are going to experience the serious injury or death of an officer in the very near future. The lack of experience in patrol; coupled with the lack of adequate staffing; during this economic crisis, is a recipe for disaster. Don't allow yourself to be that officer. Protect yourself and your family and at all cost; do what you know is right and safe.
The table is not big enough for what needs to be done and the mayor has chosen to stick with a café table for laying out his options. Until he sits at conference table large enough to accommodate intelligent, resourceful, risk taking individuals; we will continue to spiral toward the abyss. The mayor is attempting to cure the deficit the same way a plastic surgeon goes about performing liposuction on an obese person. He can suck all the fat he likes from the person. Take too much and shock will kill them. Take a little here and a little there year after year and you simply make them appear slimmer in clothes but in reality they are still the same obese person. Until you alter the eating habits of the person and implement structural changes to their life by adding exercise and diet as well as psychological counseling, you have not properly addressed the problem.
If you have not seen today's Dilbert Cartoon by Scott Adams, you need to look it up. I have it linked in my Facebook. It is the mayor through and through.