This is a follow-up to last nights historic Twentynine Palms Water District / Fire Department meeting. At the onset of the meeting “Sam” Moore, Jr., President of the Board, read a statement by Councilman Jim Harris. Harris wrote to the Board, “I fully supports any decision you make.”
First off, I believe that all five 29 Council members act in good faith in each decision they make, and that all are honorable people whom (is it who) love their city.
Some, however, need to be challenged on decisions making, and by compounding the problems concerning the future of the fire department and public safety by refusing to make a decision one way or the other on the fire department.
Transparency went out-the-window last week when the Councilmen Klink, Mintz and Warne met in an informal closed meeting twice with two water board members to discuss public and fire safety funding.
This casual/informal closed meeting was likely the doing of the city council in the stead of a community-wide joint open meeting which was requested by the TPWD and rejected by the CC.
At last nights meeting, it was discovered that transparency was buried like a dead skunk because there is an absolute blackout on what was discussed during said meeting. I believe this was the doing of the City Manager. There is NO statutory exemption to have a blackouts on informal meetings when not discussing things required behind closed doors. Harm done: A Cyptic lack of transparency?
The people in this community have a constitutional right to know what took place. They want to know what is going on with public and fire safety. The CC must improved their record on transparency.
As mentioned in the story last night, TPWD Director Chancey Chambers suggested there may be a way for the TPWD to fund to TPFD by some collateral water district source — which he informs is legal. There was no discussion on this, but as I recall the buzz word ‘Towers” was used. “We do have revenue,” said Chambers.You can be sure there will be more discussion on this.
Fire Chief Thompson pointed out that if the 422 Lear station is closed there is still going to be costs. The Chief also explained that the misplaced criticism — “there is no plan” — is mere misinformation and smoke and mirrors. There IS a plan. The water board and the Chief hammered away at documenting the plan.They unequivocally proved their case.
You can bet that the insurance rates in Indian Cove will increase if the fire department is gutted, the Chief explained because they would be outside the four mile zone away from a fire station and public safety. Be sure the same applies in Desert Heights.
Given the CC’s stonewalling and refusal to make a decision on the fire department funding and public safety, this exacerbates the problems for the community and decisions makers on the water board. All of the Directors are unhappy with some members on the CC and some residents “trying to beat-up of firefighters”.
Chancy Chambers reported that if Station 422 is gutted the downtown Station 421 will still have to go to calls in Desert Heights. Remember the TPWD is retaining management of the fire department, not the county.
Interestingly, the highest pay scale for local firefighters is lower that entry level county firefighters:
Highest Paid Scale in 29: $60, 561
Lowest Pay Scale in County: $61, 025
It was pointed out that Warne’s figures of $4,000,000 pertaining to CalPERS is erroneous. “If you don’t divest, you don’t trigger termination liability,” reported Chief Thompson. It is a fact that there is a $1.8 billion of county unfunded liability. This is but one reason that the water board decided to scrap going with county fire, and because of expected cuts the County will trim from public and fire safety. It was also noted that had County fire taken over, those volunteers still get paid by the hour.
Turning over fire infrastructure and equipment of 1.1 million of hard earned resources was a pill the water board didn’t want to swallow. Be sure, County Fire would keep cutting fire services, said Chambers.
Board member Cisneros said, “We shouldn’t give-away our resources to County, we worked hard to get it. [Why] wrap it up in a bow and give it to County. That’s stupid!”
Come June this year, the Fire department will be bankrupt and defunct. This is why the CC needs — as they say — to “get of the pot.” Water Director BO Bourikas explained that he fears down the road there will be on-going funding problems (as opposed to County Fire taking over). Chancey explained County Fire will continue to cut funding.
A few people from the public spoke last night. Most notably Steve Irwin (Spelling in question). Mr. Irwin said the “County is playing a shell game”. He added, “Why have a city” if fire is turned over to County fire.
Why have a city if the city does not does not provide infrastructure? To wit, no water services, no fire department, hasn’t its own police force, etc. The city would be pretty much irrelevant if it continues to be irresponsible . It just becomes an overbloated-useless bureaucracy draining taxpayers for naught.
Steve Irwin summed it up last night during public comments: “The city spends hundreds of thousands on 1/10 of the community. The city needs to man up and assume [its] responsibility.”
“City’s been getting a free ride for 25 years,” reported Z107.7 this morning.
Summary: Seems now there are three option in re public and fire safety now that it will be local: Cut it by half and close the 422 Lear station; Keep Lear Station open with help from the city; or possibly the TPWD could find additional funding to keep Lear open with ancillary (but legal) water district “Tower” funding.
Footnote: This presentation is a bit disjointed but it needs to be posted ASAP.