The Wilmington City Council Clown Show, Part Whatever

Filed in Delaware by on July 30, 2014

The effort to start getting Wilmington’s long-term budget problem under control had a major setback last night when they failed to override the Mayor’s veto of an ordinance that defunded 8 vacant WFD positions. Sherry Dorsey-Walker, Trippi Congo, Bob Williams, Justin Wright and Sam Prado were cravenly joined at the last minute by Darius Brown, who apparently thought that since this vote might lose, he should get off of the reform train.

What’s really bad about all of this is that you can take one good look at that group of names and the thing you know is that they think that this is a game. In spite of the WEFAC reports to the contrary, this group of people thinks that governing means that they are still in high school – where you defend your cliques and to hell with everyone else. And you can look at that group of names as the ones who fairly enthusiastically voted to tax Wilmington property owners in order to basically fund a party that Wilmington property owners won’t be able to take part in. Take a good look at that group of names. Not one of them can read a P&L or spreadsheet and expect that city taxpayers will fill in and fund their complete failure of leadership here. And the risk to those of us who are stakeholders in the city is that this is not a group of people who even care whether Wilmington slides into the problem that Detroit is suffering through today.

The worst part of this Clown Show is Councilman Mike Brown. Just before the vote was taken, news broke that he returned from vacation to take this vote and did it by flying back from Florida first class. Paid for by Wilmington taxpayers. Other Councilmembers also returned from vacation, including Maria Cabrera who was also in Florida and she was not returning on a city-paid ticket. You should see the WDEL video – he lied to the reporter (saying he was in Maryland) and then tells the reporter that he lied because she’d find out anyway. What? There’s no reason to lie about where you are – especially when you end up embarrassing your colleagues and the people you are supposed to represent. Not that this is new for Brown – the city has paid a pretty penny to settle sexual harassment suits brought against him by WPD officers. And Theo Gregory doubles down on the embarrassment by defending First Class Tickets:

“We’re dealing with a 15-day timeframe, and I need to get nine votes on a very important piece of legislation. Do I tell him to drive back? To catch an economy flight back, knowing that when he does fly with his wife, he flies first class because of a medical condition?”

Why yes, yes you do. First, because it is really difficult to have any credibility about reducing Wilmington’s expenditures when you are authorizing First Class Plane tickets. Second, while it is not unusual for an employer to reimburse an employee for returning during a vacation, you do that within the regular travel policy. I’ve had to break a vacation for work and my employers still don’t pay for first class tickets (unless that is all that is available). Brown should be responsible for the difference between a regular airfare and a first class one.
Make no mistake, Gregory failed in a key piece of leadership here. He should have a stake in the credibility of the body he leads, and enabling Mike Brown to continue to embarrass that Council (especially those who really do try to take this seriously reinforces the cynical view many people have of Council. That it exists to be largely self-serving and serving of the people who are friends of the folks in Council. Mike Brown can’t leave Council fast enough for me, but Gregory should be in the business of removing Brown from his Public Safety Committee Chairmanship. Not all of his Council is participating in the Clown Show and real leadership would be in the business of protecting those who are taking their jobs and consituents seriously.

Trippi Congo was originally going to vote against the veto and – as is his habit – crumbled at the end. He doesn’t do much to represent his constituents and this vote was part of that. Sammy Prado voted against the original ordnance because he got a quid pro quo from the Administration. Sammy also voted for the tax increases. Dorsey-Walker and Williams apparently only represent the WFD and the WPD (who mostly can’t vote for either of them) and who don’t mind increasing homeowner taxes to do it. Justin Wright is locked into some crazy fight with Theo Gregory and while he has been loudly telling everyone that Council should reduce its budget, both Wright and Congo voted NO to an effort to reduce the size of Council a few years back. And I’ll note that neither of these so-called Change Agents have proposed their own legislation to defund any part of their own office. They are just complaining about it. Darius Brown spends his day populating his Facebook page with other people’s ideas about economic justice and yet couldn’t find the backbone to make sure that his taxpaying constituents are getting any justice in stopping the fiscal slide of the City.

Make no mistake – public safety was not at risk here, even according the data they reported to the Finance Committee during the budget hearings. The people screaming the loudest about these cuts were WFD and WPD folks. Which should tell you exactly what was on the line here. As for me – I’m a dyed in the wool tax and spend liberal, and even I can see that this is a City that disrespects its taxpayers on the regular. It is too bad that there is a good portion of City Council who is working to enable this disrespect, rather than demand that their constituents’ money is spent in a way that respects the need of those constituents to live in a city that is fiscally healthy.

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  1. Citizen36 says:

    What a fantastic piece. Kudos to you Cassandra. If all city government issues were this well analyzed, we might be in a better place. Regardless of what side of the issue one falls on, everyone should agree there are major problems that are not being addressed.

  2. SJ109 says:

    I’ve honestly been on the fence the whole time, but sort of lean towards the cuts making sense. But I completely agree with you re: the plane ticket. Your vote concerns CUTTING SPENDING, yet, in order to do that you’re going to SPEND EXTRA money?

    And I appreciate that you pointed out the buddy-buddy BS between Williams and Dorsey Walker. I’m honestly just over them. I’ve actually lived in BOTH of their districts and while I have a little bit of respect for Williams, Dorsey Walker is just a crock of useless inaction. From what I can tell, she prays for things to work themselves out. Aaaand that’s about it.

  3. Especially enjoyed the high school cliques analogy.

  4. AQC says:

    This is excellent writing Cassandra! I can only say “agreed”.

  5. AGovernor says:

    Great blog Cassandra. You are right on point.

  6. Jeff Cragg says:

    Good post, good analysis. But how do you fix the “clown show”, most of these council members are truly motivated to do good, and the original goal of cutting funding for vacant positions (except for the special interest group that was getting their ox gored) seems hard to oppose. Clearly the Mayor was playing the politics and the council managed to lose the high ground. So, (And I fully realize I’m asking the question on a progressive blog) how do you ever cut unnecessary government largess? Or cut the “unnecessary” spending and at least redirect it to “better” priorities. Are not the clowns the good guys?

  7. cassandra_m says:

    Thanks for those questions, Jeff.

    There really are Councilmembers who are working hard at trying to get to some of the solutions that the City needs. Bud Freel is at the top of the list, along with Loretta Walsh and Maria Cabrera. So you are right in that they aren’t all clowns. Probably the most heartbreaking thing about this incident is that for the first time in a while there seemed to be a core of Councilmembers who were interested in tackling the tough stuff that the City will not. And in doing that well within their lane — they get to say how money gets spent, after all. One other thing that isn’t well recognized about this effort was that this City Council was well hammered by residents after the last tax increase. At some point it became clear to Council that someone had to address the WEFAC diagnosis and what is often seen as profligate spending (or too much work done with little accountability).

    The folks that I include in the clown diagnosis are those who are more attentive to their own BS or more attentive to the interest groups than they are to their constituents. It is fair to presume that there will be little backstop for this city from either the State or the Feds if the worst happens. Which might be alarmist. But I’m having a tough time locating any effort in the Administration to pay attention to our fiscal health and am pretty disappointed that the Council couldn’t do it either.

  8. Tom Baker says:

    Excellent article. I could not agree more.

  9. stan merriman says:

    Wow. I’m slowly beginning to understand my chosen city. Thanks for brilliant insight and even more brilliant writing, Cassandra.

  10. m.v. buren says:

    cassandra, this is what they call great reporting and analysis. kudos.

  11. pandora says:

    Excellent blogging, Cassandra! You’re insight into what is going on and who the players are is invaluable.

  12. elockman says:

    Keep up the great work, Cassandra!

  13. Von A. Morris says:

    Thank you, that was a great writing of what’s happening in City Council… Keep up the great work…

  14. Von A. Morris says:

    Thank you, that was great writing of what’s happening in City Council… Keep up the great work…

  15. bobsmith6019 says:

    HUM,

    Let’s look at this again.

    Cassandra you wrote this,

    “There really are Councilmember’s who are working hard at trying to get to some of the solutions that the City needs. Bud Freel is at the top of the list, along with Loretta Walsh and Maria Cabrera*. So you are right in that they aren’t all clowns.”

    Aren’t these the same councilmember’s who on the last two budgets voted for the following?

    1. Voted in FY 2013 to fill the Council Television that was VACANT for the last three fiscal years for the COST of 68,000 dollars.(* Cabrera was not a member of council at this time)

    2. Voted in FY 2014 to create and add the following positions to City Council

    • Director of Communication & Policy COST 89,300.00
    • Deputy Chief of Staff COST 90,800.00
    • Legislative Director COST 90,000.00
    • Bailiff COST 46,000.00

    Let’s not forget the City Council TV Station FY 2014 989,678.00 dollars.
    Also don’t forget FY 2014 City Council overrode the Mayor’s veto to allow all of this to happen.

    So here is 1,373,778.00 dollars that has been added to the City Council budgets. So don’t you think the cuts should start here on City Council?

    But you are right about Bud Freel and Loretta Walsh being at the top of the list. The list that spends your tax dollars. Yes you are right again about Walsh and Freel voting to reduce city council, but remember they already knew that they would still have a seat on City Council after the vote. Freel was going to run unopposed in the 8th and Walsh would have either had an At-Large seat of the President of City Council. Remember they are Lifer Politicians the ones who that care of themselves first.

    “Shovel Ready”

    President Obama says “shovel-ready project” creates new jobs.

    You have stated in another posting, along with a certain Politician who recently stated on TV and in the Newspaper that a certain project was “shovel-ready project which would have eliminates jobs. Shovel Ready is a very poor term to use when cutting Public Safety. People run a greater chance of dying when you cut Public Safety.

    So I guess the TEA PARTY has arrived and is alive and well and on Wilmington City Council.

  16. Paul Calistro says:

    Thank you for clearly reporting what transpired. I will note that this was a show down between Mayor Williams and President Gregory. It is the first round in a long battle for2016 mayoral race. Williams out maneuvered Gregory in this battle. One city council person told me last night that this had become a chess game and council members are being used as pawns. Too bad we can’t sell this to a network as Game of Thrones ( elementary school edition )

  17. cassandra_m says:

    Thanks, everyone. If Paul is right that this is the beginning of a fight to be mayor, I’m going to say right now that this is less than impressive. Seriously, if Theo wants to be mayor and wants to implement some real vision for this city, he ought to be about getting his Council in a position to do some good. But right now — a choice between Williams and Gregory isn’t much of a choice.

    And to the firefighter who still thinks that he and his buddies are entitled to all of the overtime they can eat, no matter how bankrupt the city is — this problem with long term funding of these positions was predicted when the grant that funded them was accepted. Next time, this won’t be about vacant positions, it will be about layoffs of real people. And partly because you can’t see the forest for the overtime trees.

  18. bobsmith6019 says:

    Cassandra you wrote this,

    “And to the firefighter who still thinks that he and his buddies are entitled to all of the overtime they can eat, no matter how bankrupt the city is — this problem with long term funding of these positions was predicted when the grant that funded them was accepted. Next time, this won’t be about vacant positions, it will be about layoffs of real people. And partly because you can’t see the forest for the overtime trees.”

    Aw wrong again but spoken like a true TEA Party Politician. Remember stop listening to LW, BF, KK, TG, MC. They are playing you to be their fool. Start doing your home work look at all the city departments OT you will be surprised also in case you do not know our firefighter’s only receive straight time for overtime not time and half like everyone else. Be a leader and not Theo’s puppet.

    I guess you really didn’t care about the money that your friends on City Council have added to our cost.

  19. Joseph says:

    Thanks for wasting 5 minutes of my life. You wrote some tea party, hard core Republican bull shit to me. Thought this was supposed to be liberal.

  20. cassandra m says:

    All of 5 minutes, huh? I imagine that when you write about the Clown Show, some of the supporting cast of clowns will eventually show up.

    What’s really hysterical about this whole TEA PARTY talking point here is that I’m working at defending the health of the entire city, while the firefighters who show up here to dis that are working on making sure that their pockets are lined with taxpayer money — and whether or not the broader city is healthy enough to continue to do that is of no consequence to them. They want theirs and the rest of us can go to hell. That’s Rule One in the GOP Teajhadi Playbook and that’s the exact position of these firefighters.

  21. KevinJones says:

    Cassandra…… Please address bobsmith6019’s comments. I notice that you totally ignored his valid points. Actually firefighters lose money when these positions get filled. The new hires fill the vacant slots eliminating the OT thereby, no OT. You see……for some reason the designers of most firetrucks put six positions on most all apparatus that they make. They do this because the designers unlike pencil pushers,writers, and politicians, know the fire service. It takes from 4 to 6 people to man 1 firetruck especially in a densely populated, row home, multi-exposure, interior style firefighting city such as Wilmington. Four shifts, 6 engines, 2 ladders, and 2 supervisors, 24/7 365 in Wilmington. Thats 4 men/women per truck (32 souls) plus 2 supervisors. If you mulitply 34 souls x 4 shifts this equals 136 people. If ANY of those people retire that creates immediate overtime positions due to the vacancy. So explain how hiring would line firefighters pockets? Vacancies CREATE overtime folks. Permanently cutting positions eliminates COMPANIES whether engine or ladders and if you’re going to support cutting, have the balls and say exactly what you want which is to eliminate some districts fire protection. That would at least get my respect. But no politician is saying lets take the Stapler Park engine, or the Canby Park engine, or the Brandywine Hills engine, they just try to defund through the back door and leave the Chief to answer for response times, fire deaths and firefighter injuries. In the end you can cut the fire department down to the bone all i care…..I’ll just employ the tactics of other manpower starved fire departments around the country and stay outside on the street and surround and drown. Interior Firefighting…… Hmph, yea right.

  22. cassandra m says:

    You know, I’m delighted for this operational detail, but the thing I keep asking is how this City is expected to maintain a fire department that is sized for a city of 100+ people? When does that get answered? And when do you answer where the money comes from? Everyone knows that public safety is important, but the dishonesty of your talking points is inherent in the fact that response time (which was just fine when the Chief reported on it during the Budget Hearings) is only one piece of the puzzle. Depending upon the severity of the incident and its location, you can have multiple companies responding and it is possible that some of them may come from the county. The system itself is built to scale up with resources nearby. And while those resources are engaged, they are not available to respond to anything else should it happen. How much WFD protection are we supposed to have? But still, no one responds to the fact that the city accepted a grant for 7 additional positions and was warned at that time that it was going to be hard to fund those positions once the grant went away. And now that we are at the pay the piper moment, we have a collective stamping of feet. Which produces no revenue to pay for those positions, BTW.

    If you could actually address how it is that a city that is well on its way to a fiscal crisis is supposed to continue to throw money at vacant positions, that might get my respect. Silliness about the TEA PARTY or COMMUNITY LEADER do not.

  23. KevinJones says:

    I don ‘t know where you got your average on fire department sizing but I can tell you that we have shrunk in size over my 20 plus years and will ultimately shrink some more. I just don’t like being demonized for bad financial choices made in the past by our leaders. Our overtime budget hasnt been more than $350,000 in years. Truth is that OT is not what you and others are asking for, it’s to eliminate a company. That being said, just pick one. No district Rep wants to be responsible for closing the company that ends up being the reason someone dies. So we have rolling bypass or brownouts. Now you seem quite intelligent so i ask you. What is a rolling by-pass? Instead of filling vacancies by hiring or paying OT you reduce staffing below whats needed while closing companies on an alternating schedule. The reason they alternate is to allow the risk of a closed company to be shared by all instead of closing just one. If you focus on the true wording of the strategy it says it all. rolling = “RISK is shared by all.” So my question is ” if there is nothing to fear and councilpersons truly believe that we are overstaffed, why not just cut a company? The answer is nobody wants to make the call. They dont even want to acknowledge the risk, saying response times won’t be affected. Well if not, why ROLL the bypass or ROLL the brownouts? Just pick a company and close it. Which would you choose to close?

  24. KevinJones says:

    Ms Cassandra, I respect your interest in our city but cannot accept responsibility for its financial troubles. I will end my comments with a true story. I had a job years ago at a local company and went in on my first day and began to perform above and beyond others who had been there for quite sometime. I was approached by an older gentleman who said “slow down, you’re going to make us look bad and as long as there is work, you will have a job.” I listened to the old timer and reduced my output dramatically to fit in, though I never fully accepted it morally.” We on the Fire Department do not adhere to that below standard way of thinking and we fight aggressively to protect our citizens everyday. Is it safe to say that effective litigation and response times is ultimately the cause of our demise? I’d hate to think so. BTW, that company I worked for was Chrysler, and you see where that substandard output got them.

  25. John Young says:

    But still, no one responds to the fact that the city accepted a grant for 7 additional positions and was warned at that time that it was going to be hard to fund those positions once the grant went away. And now that we are at the pay the piper moment, we have a collective stamping of feet. Which produces no revenue to pay for those positions, BTW.

    I’m thinking of another grant program…can anyone guess which one?

  26. SussexWatcher says:

    Gee, Johnny One-Note, we don’t know. Why don’t you hijack a completely unrelated thread to explain yet again why you are the only person in Delaware who truly understands education?

  27. bobsmith6019 says:

    Cassandra, I found this on line maybe you should try this! “The City of Wilmington is seeking to conduct the 38th Fire Academy. Applications are currently being accepted for the position of Probationary Firefighter.” Try walking a mile in their shoes.

  28. cassandra_m says:

    Ms Cassandra, I respect your interest in our city but cannot accept responsibility for its financial troubles.

    You don’t have to be responsible for the city’s fiscal issues, but as long as you are drawing a check from the city you are going to be a part of the solution one way or another. And this gets harder the longer it goes. Because the residents of Wilmington are not a river of money, I don’t care what this mayor and the WFD seem to think. If you are listening closely to people, the improvement that is wanted in public safety is a Homicide Department in the WPD. Which won’t happen because of the money. But what *is not* a solution is to pretend that this city will always be able to meet your financial demands. Because unless something unexpected happens to improve the current picture, the future solution looks alot worse than eliminating vacant positions.

  29. KevinJones says:

    I am a city resident and we are a river of money. Traffic cam tickets…..check. City wage tax…check. Home alarm security fees…..check. City tax increases….check. Where does all that revenue go? And a homicide division? Now we’re talking reallocation, not taxpayer savings. What Lib every gave a saved dime back to the taxpayer. And if you get your homicide unit and homicides decrease dramatically, what then? CUT those jobs too? GTFOH! You my friend are a hybrid. (Liberal/Conservative) in your world firefighters can respond from Mexico and China as long as your house isn’t burning.

  30. cassandra_m says:

    Where does all that revenue go?

    There is a budget every year for the City of Wilmington. If you aren’t going to educate yourself on the city’s revenues and expenditures, then you have no business arguing for More Money. That’s just an argument from entitlement and not one that very many of the city residents employed by the private sector are going to be sympathetic to.

  31. bobsmith6019 says:

    Cassandra,

    You wrote this

    “Where does all that revenue go?”

    “There is a budget every year for the City of Wilmington. If you aren’t going to educate yourself on the city’s revenues and expenditures, then you have no business arguing for More Money. That’s just an argument from entitlement and not one that very many of the city residents employed by the private sector are going to be sympathetic to.”

    And I wrote this

    “So here is 1,373,778.00 dollars that has been added to the City Council budgets. So don’t you think the cuts should start here on City Council? ”

    But you have failed again to answer this and you have turn a blind eye to your friends on city council raising our taxes for there own gains.

  32. cassandra_m says:

    No, I haven’t failed to answer that. I’ve spilled a good deal of ink at this place criticizing some of Wilmington’s financial choices — not the least of which are the massive expansions of personnel and budget for the City Council and the Mayor (I don’t own the Administration anything, so I am free to note that their budget exploded too). Choices made by Baker and by Williams. Google can help you out here. When it comes time for their budgets to be reviewed, I’ll be right there advocating for cuts as well. But I haven’t forgotten that the topic of this post and the topic of the vote was cuts to vacant positions at the WFD.

  33. KevinJones says:

    Whatever you do in the private sector I’m sure an occupational hazard for you is nothing more than breaking the tip of your pencil or running out of coffee. I lay my life on the line everytime i put on my gear and enter a strange smoke filled, high heat environment, and it damb sure isn’t for the pay. It’s funny how our low paying jobs were nothing to you eggheads when times were great, but now that the fat has been cut out of the private sector, small firms like possibly the one you work for or BERKSHIRE, bilk taxpayers for surveys and analysis drawn up for the highest bidder. It doesnt take a degree or much smarts to know that taxing and spending is how we got here. And i damn sure wasn’t on the spending side.

  34. Aint's Taking it Any More says:

    KevinJones:

    Fuck yourself. I’ve read your posts with disgust. Your words here do nothing to honor your profession. Reminding us that you choose a dangerous career and continue in it, and then using that choice as a predict to insult others is emblematic of a slope browed brute lacking intellect or other useful skills.

    If you can’t have an intelligent conversation without droning on about your bravery, the dangers you face, the difficulties encounter, then, after pulling your head out of your ass, go find a toilet to blow bubbles into.

  35. bobsmith6019 says:

    Cassandra,

    You wrote this

    “When it comes time for their budgets to be reviewed, I’ll be right there advocating for cuts as well. But I haven’t forgotten that the topic of this post and the topic of the vote was cuts to vacant positions at the WFD.”

    Have fun sitting at City Council budget meeting of course you will be in fairytale land because since Theo Gregory took over they no longer have a budget hearing. Once a dictator always a dictator.

    My real question to you is when did firefighters become your enemy?

    Also I did a little homework for you from WDEL

    Your dear friend Loretta Walsh is demanding that Mike Brown pay the money back to the city.

    Interesting she believes Mike Brown should repay the 1000 dollars that the tax payers paid for the airfare. But not one word from her on him repaying the 50,000 dollars paid out by the tax payers for his sexual harassment lawsuit.

    See how politicians are….they are like smiling dogs, never trust them.

  36. KevinJones says:

    Hey…….truth hurts doesn’t it. Don’t worry, the private sector will bounce back. You just got served. Peace!

  37. cassandra_m says:

    Awesome. For someone who keeps claiming that I’m not a liberal, this:

    Hey…….truth hurts doesn’t it. Don’t worry, the private sector will bounce back. You just got served. Peace!

    Is right out of the GOP playbook, under the I Got Nothing category. When you can’t hold up your end in an argument, leave said argument with as much belligerence as possible, hoping that no one will notice that you’ve thrown in the towel.

    Of course the Finance Committee held Budget Hearings this year, like they do every year. But don’t let a bunch of off-topic deflections get in the way of the facts.

    And then there’s this:
    My real question to you is when did firefighters become your enemy?

    Dude, this is *not* high school. Grow. Up.

  38. bobsmith6019 says:

    Cassandra,

    you posted the below link which has this.

    City Council Finance Committee Budget Hearing Schedule
    • Wednesday, April 9, beginning at 4 p.m., Treasurer’s Office, followed by the Auditor’s Office and the Departments of Law and Planning;
    • Monday, April 14, beginning at 4 p.m., Office of Economic Development followed by the Department of Parks and Recreation;
    • Wednesday, April 16, beginning at 4 p.m., Department of Human Resources followed by the Department of Public Works;
    • Monday, April 21, beginning at 4 p.m., Office of Integrated Technologies followed by the Department of Licenses and Inspections and the Department of Real Estate and Housing;
    • Thursday, April 24, beginning at 4 p.m., Department of Police followed by the Department of Fire;
    • Monday, April 28, beginning at 4 p.m., Revenue projections will be reviewed followed by a review of the proposed budget for Finance Department;
    • Wednesday, April 30, beginning at 5 p.m., the Finance Committee will receive a presentation concerning the Water/Sewer Fund by staff from the Public Works Department.

    You might want to read the above again!!!

    Like I said have fun sitting at City Council budget meeting hearing of course you will be in fairytale land because since Theo Gregory took over as you can read above they no longer have a budget hearing for City Council. Once a dictator always a dictator.

    And you are right its not high school when the safety of the public is concerned.

  39. cassandra m says:

    So now we add not being able to read to your skill set? I’m reading:
    City Council Finance Committee Budget Hearing Schedule

    That link showed you the entire list of budget hearings that were scheduled this spring in order to refine and pass a budget. They do this *every year*. It is called the Budget Hearings. And when they go to pass the budget there is some discussion, but the work and the presentations from each one of the departments is done once a year and done prior to getting the budget approved.

    And I guess we also add that you have no idea how the City’s budget actually gets passed to the Things You Have No Clue About.

  40. Aint's Taking it Any More says:

    Cassandra

    Do yourself a favor – give it up. He’s even denser in the head than me. ;-)

  41. bobsmith6019 says:

    Cassandra,

    So what day did the City Council have their actual budget hearing on?

  42. cassandra m says:

    Are you kidding me? You are *seriously* going to give me one more chance to point out that you can’t read; and that you don’t even know how the government you are so busily shaking down even works? The link I provided you (AND THAT YOU CUT AND PASTE HERE!) has the list of the *seven* dates of the hearings. And just to help your conspiracy theory, here is the link to the video of the committee hearings. (See the last three entries on this page, and entries at the top of the page here.)

    Have mercy.

  43. Andrew says:

    I think the point that BobSmith6019 is making is that, while city council does conduct budget hearings, it does not actually have a separate hearing to consider its own expenditures.

    Council calls in the various departments — fire, police, finance, etc. — so they can scrutinize those budgets and ask questions of the department heads, but it’s not like Theo Gregory has to go before council to justify his own body’s budget. I think that’s the point that’s being made.

    While it might be awkward for the council to vet its own budget, there probably is an argument to be made for transparency at the very least. For what it’s worth, I also didn’t see the mayor’s office on that list of hearings.

  44. cassandra m says:

    Andrew, that’s correct, I believe. There are no budget hearings for either City Council or Mayor’s Office expenditures. That did not just start with Theo Gregory, however. And yes both offices should have to provide a public accounting of their budget.

  45. bobsmith6019 says:

    Andrew,

    Thank you for finally getting Cassandra to understand that there are no public hearings for City Council Budget. So I guess I can read :-)

  46. cassandra m says:

    Actually, you’re having a great deal of trouble communicating your ideas here. As you should see that Andrew was able to make it pretty plain right off of the bat. And without the conspiracy theory of Theo Gregory eliminating this hearing. Also without the ALL CAPS.

  47. Andrew says:

    I’m going to avoid taking any side here, but I do have a question about the whole issue of fire department cuts that I haven’t seen answered before (though I might have missed it).

    If safety is such an issue, why weren’t the vacant positions that were on the chopping block filled immediately? Is there a reason for that? I’m asking because I honestly don’t know the answer.

  48. bobsmith6019 says:

    Cassandra,

    That’s odd, Andrew was able to read and understand what I was trying to repeatedly communicate to you. So I would believe that the problem with the communicating is you. You refuse to believe what people are telling you once a politician tells you something else.

    Andrew, according to city code the Police and Fire Department manning must drop below a certain level to hire. As people leave the so called vacant openings are filled with overtime to provide the coverage needed to fully protect our citizens. Once the level is reached the hiring process can begin. This allows city residents who do not have certain training to apply. So by cutting the so called vacant positions that are being filled daily with overtime no city resident who be able to apply. Pretty Sad. when your own Politicians in the city want to prevent city residence from having a chance to better themselves. By the way the Police department had over 20 so called vacant positions that are being filled by overtime and over 84 vacant positions in the city but non of these were on the chopping block. Some of those positions have been vacant for over three years.