Monday, January 3, 2011

Call to Arms

"A little knowledge that acts is worth infinitely more than much knowledge that is idle." - Kahlil Gibran

Last week Fire Starter highlighted the bad and the good in Johnson City politics.  We contrasted negativity with optimism.  We presented two visions of the Village.  Now it is time for action.

Johnson City Mayor Hannon and Endicott Mayor Bertoni have begun to tout their "plan" for consolidation of fire service.  Despite the fact that no "plan" has been presented to the public, Hannon has assured us that it can be implemented in 2-3 months.  To paraphrase former Speaker of the House Pelosi, I guess they will "have to implement it for us to find out what is in it".

As we have previously pointed out, prior efforts by Hannon at consolidation have been an unmitigated disaster.  We are paying more for less service.  We are paying more for part time police and fire chiefs than we did for full time.  We are sending our detectives out of the Village and using Village resources to supplement Binghamton's police force at the expense of Village residents.  What these prior efforts at consolidation have in common is that they were touted as yielding savings with no proof or study.  They were implemented without public input and without a "plan".  And all the while, Hannon, Balles and Davis "whistle past the graveyard" in the hopes that their reckless decisions do not cost lives.

Which brings us to the consolidation of fire service "plan".  There are many questions which need to be answered by Village officials.  And this sort of change can not be rushed through to hide the real costs and impact.  Hannon's "bully tactics" can not be allowed to cloud the issues for both Villages.  As taxpayers, we are entitled to answers. 

For example, does the "plan"  involve a greatly reduced department for both Villages or a combination paid and volunteer department?  What will that do to EMS and response times? Will it take into account the vast geography to be covered by this department?  Who are the "experts" that are evaluating these life and death decisions.  Single minded dissolutionists like Bill Klish? And do the respective Village Boards have answers to these basic questions or will such impudent queries be brushed aside as the fear mongering of a few?

Over the next few weeks, Fire Starter will provide residents with questions and information to take to Village Board meetings.  We can provide statistics and perspective but we can not speak for you.  Only you can make your voice heard.  Village residents will need to arm themselves with questions and information. They must doggedly demand that their questions be answered.

 We have pointed out in the past that it is much easier to tear down than build up.  Once the Villages are destroyed, there will be no rebuilding them.  The time to act is now.

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