Keegan Kyle of the Voice of San Diego wrote an article today (11-18-2009) titled, "Next on the Chopping Block: Public Safety." The issue addressed in the article was the discussion by city government of cutbacks to public safety. Keegan correctly identified why this is an important issue that people need pay closer attention to. Keegan goes on to explain why this is now being considered.
"There is no room to cut in either department," said Jeff Bowman, a former San Diego Fire chief. "I realize the city has budget problems, but the city has immense public safety problems." Bowman said public safety should be the fundamental priority of city government over other obligations like infrastructure, recreation or social services.(Taken from VOSD article)
Erik Bruvold, president of the Institute for Policy Research at National University, compared a trimmed-down public safety force to a less costly insurance policy. As the city invests less money in public safety services -- mostly police, rescue and fire -- its residents are going to receive less coverage when an unexpected event happens. (Taken from VOSD article)
We are being told things are not as bad as first thought; things are getting better; the stock market has rebounded; there will be no layoffs; and there will be no cuts to wages or benefits (guaranteed). The city is spending money like a drunken sailor and the police department moves forward with the promotional process for sergeant and lieutenant. Consultants were hired TODAY to begin evaluation of the downtown site for a new stadium for the Chargers; the land necessary to begin the expansion of the Convention Center was purchased this week; and work continues on the planning and development for a new city hall and downtown library.
Yesterday's revelation from the mayor's Financial Director the city's revenue projections are off by $10 million, pushing the projected deficit to $190 million does not sound BETTER to me. Things are getting better folks. Things are not as bad as first thought. I still have that land for sale and I know it's expected to be cloudy the next couple of nights, so if anyone wants to check the land out I am available.
Jeff Bowman, former chief of the San Diego Fire Department seems to be the only person willing to point out the obvious. His honest, reasoned comments are and always have been refreshing. Chief Bowman points out what the mayor and council seem to forget; government's fundamental priority is public safety. Infrastructure, social services, recreation, and other obligations, while important fall in line behind public safety. As Eric Bruvold points out, trimmed down public safety is akin to a less costly insurance policy and the less money invested in public safety will result in less coverage when an unexpected event happens. Keegan understands fully why cutting public safety should be avoided at all cost. Keegan writes, "Reductions in public safety funding could lead to slower response times for some neighborhoods and increase the risk of property damage and loss of life."
Is there anyone in this city willing to stand up and demand the city's politicians focus their priorities on those fundamental priorities that make sense? Public Safety; safe and passable streets; refuse collection; clean water; and adequate education for our children need be the priorities before a stadium; convention center expansion; new city hall or library; parks; pools; seals; fire pits; museums; operas; needle exchange; DARE; STAR; staffing in the mayor and council offices; or any of the other political social service programs provided by the city.
Glen Sparrow, professor emeritus at San Diego State University's School of Public Affairs was quoted in Kyle's Voice of San Diego article as saying, "I don't think that there is any good way that [the City Council] can come out of this. This is going to be a bloodbath." I could not agree more with Mr. Sparrow's assessment of the situation. The sad part is Sparrow is referring to the cuts to employees and services; I believe the bloodbath is going to be the human loss by way of serious injuries and the loss of life. Who is going to accept responsibility for this blood?