Monday, April 1, 2013

Auto Thefts up...Fire Response Diminished

I noted with interest that auto thefts in St. Petersburg are up this year. In its typical, we take no responsibility for anything, the Police department is blaming citizens for the increase because they are leaving their keys in the car even leaving it running, granted not a very bright idea.
You folks need to stop that.
 But then later indicating that the thieves are hanging out at convenience stores and other places where they know people do these dumb things and stealing their cars.
It would seem that maybe an effort to police the areas where the "thieves are hanging out" would be a logical approach to the problem.
Down at the Fire department we learn a new term "Browning out equipment"  See Mark Puente and Kameel Stanleys article St. Petersburg idles fire units to help deal with cash crunch, in the Tampa Bay Times for more detail.  Apt in several ways this term means certain fire apparatus is off line for periods of time to reduce personnel overtime.
For a Mayor who often touts the importance of public safety, it seems interesting that these type of budget cuts would be foisted on the Fire Department. The president of the St. Petersburg Firefighters Association, Michael Blank summed it up when he said "we've been lucky, that's all".
Most St. Pete citizens would prefer the fire fighters be more confident that the support they need will be at the scene rather than relying on luck.
I think relying on luck and to some degree putting fire fighters at risk is just plain bad judgment on the Mayors part when there are plenty of other budget cuts that can easily be made.
Much has been made of the fact that Police department, where overtime seems abundant, supported the Mayor in his election campaign while the Fire department did not. It's a little hard to believe that that kind of petty politics would creep into the budget process, but then there are a lot of things hard to believe about this Mayor.
The argument often used is all City departments must share equally in the budget cut process, does not square well, with the statement public safety is job one. Foster talks the talk about public safety being job one, but he rarely walks the walk.
It's way past time for the Mayor, the Council Chairman and the City Council to stop worrying about Gay marriage, gun control, the next major art issue and Beach drive, and start focusing on what keeps the citizens of St. Petersburg safe.
Have your say.  Be sure to get a petition for the Pier Referendum and complete it properly. Information and schedule of events at Stop The Lens.

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