Dear Editor: Like many, I’m still having trouble understanding the Downey Firemen’s Association argument in favor of their ballot measure. This is how it appears to me:
The fire union argues the city council previously overstepped their bounds by unilaterally making a change to our fire service. Unless I’m mistaken, this change involved council enhancing our EMS service by adding ambulance transportation service by the fire department. Council also provided residents an optional subscription service of $48 per year that covers emergency medical transportation for household residents. Not a bad deal! Unless I’m mistaken I believe that was around 1999.
Previously, ambulance service was only available by private companies (Adams, AMR, CARE, etc.). Private ambulance service remains very expensive and this $48 subscription service is a tremendous benefit to us as residents. I’m not certain why the fire union sees this as offensive. All the ambulance operators I know wanted to be firefighters or police officers. Having ambulance operators in our fire department seems a good way to evaluate potential future firefighter candidates.
Regardless, it seems the fire union’s proposed solution to remedy this perceived offense is a ballot measure giving unilateral decision making authority to the same council they distrust. All future decisions on public safety services would be taken from voters and handed over to council only. That seems a bit backward to me.
To achieve their goal, the fire union wants our vote only this one time. Afterward they want voters eliminated from the process while they provide generous campaign contributions to council candidates in a quest to get enough votes to eliminate the fire department - our (the voters’) fire department.
The fire union’s message asks us to stand with “Downey Firefighters” yet they no longer desire to be the Downey Fire Department.
We, the voters, are referred to as the “bureaucratic barrier” by the fire union who sees the people they work for as standing in the way of union goals.
I understand a union’s desire for better pay, retirement and improved benefits. But don’t mislead voters and tell us it’s about ensuring public safety. Measure B was borne out of a union dispute with the city that does not involve public safety or a means to avoid potential future lawsuits. Its result would benefit the fire union at the expense of those living here. We would receive reduced service by County Fire, the closing of at least one fire station, and potential increases in fire insurance costs.
If the fire union or the city desires a change in fire service, the current city charter allows it to occur. However, the fire union must first share it with the voters and “sell it to us”. Then we get to vote on the proposal allowing our elected officials to know where we stand on the issue. Right now we are permitted direct input through a democratic process. If the fire union has its way they’d rather we did not.
Keep your right to vote in the future. No on B!
I have received two flyers reading an endorsement by Phil Wyman. Both read: “Restore binding majority vote rights in Downey...Yes on B!”
It reminds me how this issue got on the ballot in the first place – misleading statements made by petitioners who were collecting signatures.
With the amount of political dollars being spent and the strong influence of the collective unions over their memberships, it’s pretty hard to get accurate information to the voters.
Here’s hoping someone can stop or reduce this kind of propaganda.
Published: May 22, 2014 - Volume 13 - Issue 06