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A Debate is Needed

Last night, during the City Council Committee Meeting, the Hall Administration gave a "nice little presentation" about the potential for shifting the burden of receiving 9-1-1 phone calls and then dispatching the appropriate responders. Though Director Spurgeon insisted time after time that "nothing is being proposed", the clear impression with which the audience - including some concerned officers - was left was that the Administration feels it would be best to move all these responsibilities from the city to the county. Feeling that impression, representatives from AFSCME and the FOP - as well as an officer whose job would be directly impacted - spoke up about their concerns. Sadly, their commentary seemed to fall on deaf ears or were derided and consistently interrupted. Why? Oh, because this was all "informational". Therefore, a debate was not necessary at this time.

Personally, I don't understand the strategy here. It is painfully obvious that this preliminary presentation was meant to foreshadow Mayor Hall's impending proposals for changes to how our safety services are delivered. The people - especially the men and women who serve us as officers, firemen, and dispatchers - deserve a debate about this. The Mayor doesn't have to beat around the bush. If he wants to promote the outsourcing of more city services, just say it. Efficiency is an understandable and sometimes good approach to government. However, going forward, we have to be careful not to diminish the quality of service provided to the people.

It is with the quality of service in mind that we would do well to permit a full, open discussion with special attention paid to the input of the people who sacrifice their well being on our behalf. After all, it is their job that will either be made easier or harder as a result of all this.

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