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Original post made
on Apr 15, 2010
I do not feel that we should eliminate any fire department personnel. The City Council members who are against the petition are not looking at how the City is growing with all the new housing units being constructed. With so much new construction we should be increasing the fire department, not decreasing. The City should quit hiring consultants at outrageous salaries.
If you do this then next we have the police union, the teacher's union, the SCIU and all the others wanting the same perks. I'm pretty sure that the city will keep the staffing as needed... and the salaries + perks and overtime are huge! I say this and my nephew is a firefighter.
The fire department's response model for medical calls is to have a fire engine at your front door in 4-6 minutes from receiving the call. Any reduction in staffing takes one fire engine out of service, increasing response times to every neighborhood in the city. If the brain is without oxygen for more than six minutes, brain death occurs. I don't think any of the city council members can hold their breath that long. You're NOT closing down my firestation.
To support the three City council members comments, I refer you to the Letter dated March,2010 to Palo Alto Citizen's from "Your "Palo Alto Firefighters" The letter is a pure scam. Quoating 1976 stats against 2009 stats was done by a Scam Artist. The population of Palo Alto in 1976 against our population in 2009 and the fact we only had telephone land lines in 1976 as opposed to today where-in most people have cell phones who can call from anywhere, results in greatley increasing the number of 911 call.
It's quite apparent that these council members want to cut back fire services in order to pay for fuzzy-headed "green" initiatives. Some one should tell them that the resulting color of this policy will be "black", representing the fire damage caused by understaffing. This is the "black" initiative of the City Council.
The firefighters and paramedics have always showed up when called.
The PA City Council ... heh.
Watching and listening to these firefighters outside Peet's at Town and Country is very instructive. They are very aggressive, albeit smiley, they come up to tables, stop passersby, let no prospect pass.
All well and good; petitions are part of democracy. HOWEVER, I don't hear "full disclosure." Such as, "At a cost of $100,000, your signing this will allow a special election." "We are asking toi amend
the City Charter, taking the isssue away from the City Council" or
"We want you to lock in our benefits and facilities in perpetuity,
and are motived by self-interest." What I have heard are innuendoes
that coverage will not be there when you have a disaster. Can you imagine that threat being part of their inspiration? My esteem for firefighters has diminished considerably as a result, and I am mad at
their chutzpah, to say nothing of lack of full disclosure. This reeks of ramrodding, not dialogue and reason.
If staffing levels are at issue, why hasn't the union asked the city
to adopt NFPA 1710 as a standard, then they wouldn't have to go through this..
The article forgot to mention that the petition asks for a TWO-THIRDS vote to change fire department staffing. There is no indication that the council plans to decrease the staffing, only that it, and not the firefighters' union, should be in charge of that. And WE, the citizens, are in charge of our city council, but we have no other control over the union.
From the Weekly..."The measure, which Palo Alto Fire Fighters Local 1319, hopes to place on the November ballot, would require the city to set the current staffing level at the department as a "minimum number" that must be "continuously maintained." Any proposal to eliminate positions, close a fire station or reduce the department's paramedics emergency medical services would require the approval of BOTH the City Council AND the voters, according to the measure."
First, it will cost the city money to put this item on the ballot if the union gets enough signatures. More importantly, City Council has to deal with a long-term structural deficit that is largely related to employee benefits packages. There will be general cutbacks in services, etc. as we can see in this week's announcement. Council also will need to negotiate with the unions to deal with the long-term structural deficit. As a matter of policy, each of us should consider whether or not we want to tie Council's hands in these negotiations by requiring a vote of the people (who are generally uninformed about specific city budget and staffing issues). Presently, we can hold Council responsible for the budget because they have authority to manage it. If we don't like how they use that authority, we have the opportunity to vote Council members out of office. The question I hope we'll consider is--do we really want to take budget management authority away from our elected officials?
Regardless, of what the union reps tell you, there is no proposal on the table to close a fire station. I have been watching this.
We love our firefighters, but we don't love:
1. This initiative is self-servicing in the extreme.
2. The $190,000 cost to the city for putting this on the ballot.
3. Using paid firefighter time to circulate the petitions.
4. Hiding behind revered Palo Alto Firefighter T-shirts and the goodwill of the Chili Cookoff, which I will boycott this year.
5. Invading private property to solicit signatures.
6. Failing to disclose union leadership has masterminded this initiative.
7. The initiative is divisive.
8. Firefighters have effectively become ambulance drivers and paramedics in Palo Alto.
9. Ambulance/paramedics should be outsourced to become a more cost-effective service to our community.
It's OK to be against reducing firemen staffing levels and also not to sign the petition. To build the staffing level into an inflexible law is not good government If the council lets the staffing level get too low the proper answer is to vote out the council.
Ceding management of fire department staffing to the union is pure foolishness. The three council members are absolutely correct -- don't sign the petition.
I am against this petition 100% ... it is bad government, in my opinion. Interestingly, Palo Alto could get MORE staffing for the dollar, for certain, by lowering the wages and having a competitive situation. Recently, there was 1 opening in the PA Fire Dept and people could apply on-line (an acquintance who has been in training did this) and they received 1000 applicants in 7 minutes, having posted the job at 7 am, and then shut down the ability for anyone else to apply.
How insane is it to sign a petition to tie our elected officials up in knots during a budget crisis? No body wants to terminate firefighters or anyone else. But who is volunteering to pay more taxes to make up the budget shortfalls this year? And what about next year and the year after? When a firefighter puts a petition in front of you and asks you to sign it, have a little bit of courage and politely tell him or her "no." Tell them that you value and appreciate their service but you are not going to try to out guess your elected officials in the middle of a budget crisis. Tell them you do not want to waste money on a special election. Do your job as a responsible member of the Palo Alto community. We are all in this together!
Don't sign the petition. It will save the election costs in the short-term and avoids locking into significamt on-going costs in the future. Just say "no"...
The Weekly's headline for this story is so provocative and biased, I'll be interested to read what their editorial position will be.
A recent car accident up in the hills got a 30 minute response time, because the Hill station was not staffed. I lost a son-in-law because of a 30 minute response time, but that was Texas. Our councils are spending the grocery money on candy.
My wife is alive today because Engine 4 was fully staffed with superbly trained firefighters and likewise the paramedics who arrived just a couple minutes later. I haven't signed yet but certainly will.
There are a hundred things this city does that ought to be cut but firefighting and emergency services are NOT one of them.
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I stand by what I said earlier, "First, it will cost the city money to put this item on the ballot if the union gets enough signatures. More importantly, City Council has to deal with a long-term structural deficit that is largely related to employee benefits packages. There will be general cutbacks in services, etc. as we can see in this week's announcement. Council also will need to negotiate with the unions to deal with the long-term structural deficit. As a matter of policy, each of us should consider whether or not we want to tie Council's hands in these negotiations by requiring a vote of the people (who are generally uninformed about specific city budget and staffing issues). Presently, we can hold Council responsible for the budget because they have authority to manage it. If we don't like how they use that authority, we have the opportunity to vote Council members out of office. The question I hope we'll consider is--do we really want to take budget management authority away from our elected officials?
Regardless, of what the union reps tell you, there is no proposal on the table to close a fire station. I have been watching this.
I value our firefighters, but I think they have violated public trust with their handling of this petition.
In October of 2001 I was involved in a life threatening accident in town. If it wasn't for the Palo Alto paramedics I would have died. A couple of more minutes of response time would have been the difference for me. Please people, do not say we don't need our firefighters because when that day comes that you need them, it will be too late. Please do not close the stations and pare down personnel. And please refrain about talking about things that you know nothing about. If you have never needed the fire department.....congratulations.
We don't pay firefighters for what they do....we pay them for what we may need them to do.
And no....I am not a firefighter.
The issue here isn't whether or not the City should close Fire Stations. The issue is whether the ability to close fire stations should be taken away from the city council.
Passage of this measure would result in the Fire department becoming a privileged department within the city. What's next? Should the police department staffing decisions be taken away from the city? How about the Parks department, or city hall?
If people don't want Fire stations to close, they should talk to their council representatives. If the stations close anyway, then those council members will RIGHTLY be held accountable during elections for their seats.
Taking away the ability of the city council to decide how to provide for city needs is a terrible idea.
I believe some may have felt they had no hoice but to sign the petition (without thoughtful deliberation on pros and cons of the issue in the privacy of one's home, the way I recommend to study and decide such issues) since BOTH entrances/exits of Middlefield Safeway were covered by firefighters when I was there the other day. Such tactics are a litte too pressuring for my taste (a staffed table/chair in front with large sign would have been ok) so I purposefully went on about my business (shopping!) but others may not feel comfortable walking around a large firefighter. I realize they are looking for signatures, but I think it can be done in a less imposing manner. No problem with the letter mailed to our home (all registered voters received it, I assume).
The UNIONs are here to work WITH the tows and cites NOT to HOLD there hands out for more.
The UNIONS need to have a Reality Check - THEY ARE EMPLOYEES. They NEED to WORK with Management.
I was a supporter of UNIONS - Once - but they have abused their "rights" of negotiation..
the collecting of signatures by firefighters is done OFF DUTY. Why is it not alright to have the public listen to their side of the story? Just wait for the next big natural disaster. Who is going to love their firefighters then?????
Our city council should be cutting back on all the expensive consultants they hire. Also, why don't they cut back on all the wastfulness in city government. It's easier for them to cut services, rather than analyzing and reevaluating all the waste in city government. Our city council has let us down on so many levels, i.e. the high speed rail issue.
My wish for the "firefighter haters" would be to walk in their shoes for a day and see what they do before making snarky comments about what they receive. People need to fully understand their job risks , and family lifestyle before telling them they dont deserve what they get paid for. Maybe when your salery is posted in the city paper we all can critique your proformance and pass jugement on what you should and should not receive. Sounds like Palo Alto has a lot of people who play God.
Paramedics are a LOT less expensive than firefighters. Why are we paying firefighters more than twice as much as paramedics to do the that aspect of their job? We'd need far less firefighters if their duties were limited to putting out fires and responding to emergencies that required the gear of firefighters.
I don't understand why the fire department needs to respond with a pair of firetrucks to medical emergencies at private homes and retirement communities when someone slips and falls.
I'm sure some of you will argue that firefighters respond to those aforementioned locations faster. That might be true, but I'd argue then that the problem is with the system as a whole.
Make regular paramedics a bigger part of the emergency response structure.
It's a shame that only three city counsel members have come out against this petition and why do you think the firefighters want a two-thirds vote instead of a simple majority? DUH. The unions have become profoundly selfish. We can't afford to cede more power to the unions. Just say NO.
One of the misperceptions is that the need for firefighters is unchanging. Over the years, the number of residential and commercial fires has been greatly reduced and now the majority of calls for the fire department are for medical emergencies. When the paramedics respond, a fire engine is also dispatched. The fire fighters support the paramedics and provide additional muscle and eyes. For example, in appropriate cases, they will go through the house and compile a list of the medications (for the paramedics and the doctors). PLUG: people should have a Vial-of-Life container with this list. Available from Stanford Hospital and at various Preparedness fairs and online (vialoflife.com)
Another change in the duties of the Fire Dept has been the increase in the number of hazardous materials incidents that the FD responds to.
I have heard from several firefighters that they are consistently forced to take MORE overtime than they want. Normally an employer would hire more people to reduce such overtime costs, but such for firefighters, the pension costs overwhelm the overtime costs.
Given recent history, there seems to be no basis for a belief that the city is going to cut firefighters in the near future (The issue of staffing the fire station is the Foothills is an issue of additional overtime for existing firefighters, not the number of firefighters).
So why are the firefighters attempting to tie the City's hands in responding to future changes in work loads and related requirements?
try googling NFPA 1710 and search "appropriate staffing" . Read the recommended national safety standards.
The day that you will no longer need car insurance for your vehicale is the day you will no longer need a firestation in your neighborhood. .... your on your own. good luck !!!!
Our firefighters are willing to put their life on the line for us. Are the three city council members? We have a higher population now in Palo Alto and we need our firefighters and police, not cut their services. It
seems to me it wasn't too long ago that one of our council members was willing to spend city money on a new police station, and the California tree fiasco was money spent in error. We need to watch the council members and their agenda. Keep my fire station open and cut the budget in ways that will not effect our safety.
I'm all for supporting our firefighters. And I definitely want them to be able to come quickly when I need them. But, this petition doesn't seem to have anything to do with that. The city hasn't threatened to close any stations or lay off any firefighters... at least publicly. In fact, in all the articles about lay offs and budget cuts, I haven't seen anything about any cuts to the fire department at all. When you combine that with the fact that the firefighters were the only city employees to get a raise last year, it may makes me very suspicious of this petition drive.
There having no problem with getting voters to sign. What does that say...we have dumb people in Palo Alto? I think NOT!
In response to one comment/question above, the Weekly did take an editorial position (on March 26) opposing this initiative-petition effort and urging residents not to sign. It can be read in full at Web Link .
Ah, a petition so that the number of firefighters can only ever increase. Why not go the whole hog with the petition so that salaries & benefits can only ever increase?
Way to go FFs!
I appreciate what a hard job the firefighters have. However, I think that it time that the burden be shared during these difficult economic times in ALL departments that are run by the City. The lowest paid workers of the City have been hit many times by paying more for benefits, retirement and rightly so and now possibly 66 layoffs. Why is is that the Fire Department is treated differantly? It should have to face the music and also partake of their share to help balance the budget. Don't sign the petition!!!!!
I'm sure that the firefighters are circulating this petition with only the best motive: to protect and defend the citizens of Palo Alto. They couldn't possibly have any ulterior motives........could they?
Once they get their way, people, they will be practically untouchable without some very expensive (to you) special elections.
Glad I don't live in Palo Alto.. If this thing passes, you folks are SCREWED. You'll be paying 6-figure salaries and massive benefits for 30+ firefighters per shift FOR EVER!!
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Look, folks, the fact is public safety became untouchable after 9/11, salaries increased, overtime increased, benefits increased and pensions increased. If you want to know why municipalities, counties and the state are in a financial crisis it's because of the inflated public safety pensions and benefits - not the pensions of the typical public employee (though keeping these in check is a must). 70% of all public benefit and pension dollars go to public safety. Don't strap the hands of your Council, your city budget will just get worse.
with help from the print media band wagon, all of your disdain for public servant employees has created a divide among city employee groups and the public that unfortunately has reached a crescendo where negative statements made by the media and public have created a distrust by all parties.it is unfortunate that city management has seized the opportunity to offer no support for their employees. how unfortunate for all groups involved.
To those who worship the fire fighters and cops and see their life risking nature of their job as something extraodinaire, let me tell you fellows: putting their own safety on the line for us IS PART OF THEIR JOB, and when they agreed to take the job as firefighters and cops they knew what were the job conditions. As long as they are on the city payroll they are obligated to do their jobs regardless of budget issues.
The city of San Jose is looking to lay off 80 firefighters unless their union agrees to a 10% cut in salaries and benefits, So are the Palo Alto firefighters untouchable?
As I said in the past eliminate the Paramedic Service that the Fire Dept provides, leave that to the private Paramedic Services as it was in the past.
Paramedics ain't rescue folk.
"the fact is public safety became untouchable after 9/11"
- That really is at the heart of the issue. Go to any other industrialized nation - UK, Germany, Japan - firefighters are regarded as municipal servants, on the same level as other municipal servants, no more or no less. And the salaries no doubt reflect this (I know for certain that is the case in Japan at least.)
It's only here in the US that we have this hero-worship adulation of firefighters. It really is odd, when you think about it.
Where is that petition? I want to sign it now.
It ain't hero worshiping, Bucky.I did not have what it took to be career Army, but I admire and respect those who do. Having done my share of rotating shift work early on, I admire and sympathize with those who accept that life. And the willingness to go in when prudence says git out is priceless. By golly, maybe it is just a bit of hero worship.
Firefighters are sometimes heroes, but, it isn't heroic for their pay and retirement pay to bankrupt the city (Vallejo). It is reasonable to subject firemen to the same constraints as policemen, who are also heroes sometimes. For some reason, firemen have become sacrosanct.
With firefighters there is a measure, response time. Give us a metric on police and we'll talk.
Many comments above disapprove of the petition for costing the city. What about the school initiatives and special elections -- what do they cost the city? Many times the schools have done this and no one seems to call them out for wasting money with special elections.
This is the first time the firefighters have ever asked me to sign any petition. I did sign because this will get a chance to be thrashed out in the election if it makes it on the ballot. I will admit that there are some comments above that make me question what is the best policy for our city and for our firefighters. I do want our firefighters to know that we really appreciate them.
Question: If you outsource paramedic services, where will they be located when not on a call?
One of the benefits of PAFD paramedics is that the teams are dispersed throughout the city via the fire houses. Obviously this strategy provides for a fast response time.
Outsource (and displace) the paramedics and you are guaranteed lower response time. No thank you!
Look - everyone loves firefighters. However, I expect the leaders I elect to manage that service to the community along with every other service we have.
If you don't like the way our leaders are managing - vote them out - but don't take away our leaders flexibility/responsibility to manage our resources....that's why we elect them!
Growing population,increesing crime rate,criminals are being relesed from jails,in this situation who keeps us safe? Police and firefiters .Cut back on city staff like plan checkers, engineers,clerks and other extra fat.
Most local cities outsource paramedic services. PA and So SF are two of the only ones that don't. It doesn't seem to make any difference. Except of course that an AMR paramedic makes a fraction of what a PAFD paramedic pulls down..
Just got to say " it is the same stuff every year so I have stoped going. Who ever orginizes this deal ought to work on getting some new art.
Crescent Park Dad says: "One of the benefits of PAFD paramedics is that the teams are dispersed throughout the city via the fire houses." Wrong the firefighters are distributed throughout the City at different fire houses, the paramedics are located at the firehouse on Hanover and Page Mill Road.
That is why when you call the paramedics the firefighters from the local fire house show up first, then come the paramedics.
We don't dare question wasting nearly a trillion dollars per year on the military budget, more than the combined military budget of the entire world, including by the way tens of billions allocated, each year, to protect Germany from an invasion by Soviet tanks, yet some are all up in arms when a labor union is trying to protect us (and them) from politicians reducing absolutely essential life saving services?
Does anyone know what a typical firefighter's work schedule is like every month? Why is it they need so much overtime?
Crescent Park Dad is absolutely correct- paramedics ARE assigned to the various firehouses and because of that they are in a position to begin critical life saving intervention measures within MINUTES of being dispatched to emergencies.
Other communities outsource Paramedic TRANSPORT. The initial lifesaving work performed by paramedics within MINUTES is performed by the paramedics arriving on fire engines. No private provider would place as many ambulances in a city as there are fire engines, so there is no way most emergency calls would be initially handled by a paramedic without there being a paramedic on the fire engines. Palo Alto is one of the few cities that transport patients, however keep in mind the transport fees represent income to the city and the fees cover the cost of and pay the freight of our enhanced paramedic service.
Every Palo Alto engine has a paramedic on board, who can be at your door within 4-5 min, with life saving equipment and drugs.
Do you really want to lose this by outsourcing?
the whole rhetoric of "politicians" as bad-intentioned know-nothings is ridiculous and reeks of tea-partyism. we elect council members and hire managers because they have the big picture in view. the firefighters petition is just a form of demogoguery. since 9/11 they and their "brothers" have, as has been said, become untouchable. true,their numbers suffered that day. but their profession isn't among the top ten most dangerous jobs in america. perhaps not even in the top twenty--where i grew up farmers get hurt all the time. the firefighters have conflated their importance and status almost to that of soldiers, which they liken themselves to. their perks are ridiculous, and they spend most of their time on routine runs, using three vehicles when one is needed if that. when not on these runs they polish up the truck, use the station gym, and cook up nice big meals. please, have a sense of perspective, firefighters, and a sense of humility.
We have Federal and state governments to handle the
"big" picture. Much of our budget woes can be attributed directly to the cost of maintaining a separate State Department, Environmental Protection Agency, Department of Energy and Directorate of City
color. The Council's eyes are on the heavens while they walk through the pasture.
Palo Alto has hard choices -- clearly one of the easier ones would have been to postpone the plaza renovation on University Ave.
Palo Alto is beautiful enough right now, so cancel other beautification projects for now. Have a volunteer corps and scout groups help with some city maintenance functions. Raise fees and contributions for the city-sponsored cultural facilities and activities.
Open up your sacred parks and open space areas to paying customers from other cities. Reach out to get some tenants in those empty commercial properties. ...these are tough times. Do more fundraising with social organizations --- other towns even get local financial sponsors for public benches. You'd be surprised what magic occurs when you put a contributors name on a bench, statue, meeting room, etc.
Stop wasting time and money with endless arguments and meetings.
Outsourcing fire and safety is insane...those are the fundamental and core services of any city. Making these folks (who save lives and risk their lives for you, your children, and your elderly) is really ugly scapegoating.
This issue calls for some big picture perspective. While Firefighters individually are great people and perfom a vital public service, collectively they and their Union - and Union representative have gotten WAAAAAAY out of control. It's time for some reforms! Let me cite 3 examples:
First, in what other profession can you work one day out of three and get paid for sleeping on the job in that one day? They work a 24 hour shift on that one day and get paid for all 24 hours. Many of them hold 2nd jobs and or manage their investments, buy, fix up, and flip homes, etc on their days off - if they're not getting paid overtime on those days! On the day they do work, they are on "full duty" 8 hours, can train, study, or work out for 8 hours, and sleep for the final 8. They are on call all of thet 24 hour period, but only actually get called out from sleep about 10% of the time, yet are paid for all of it. Better yet, when they work an overtime shift for another firefighter who is absent due to vacation, sick leave, or disability (more on that later!) they get time and a half for the sleep period hours! Maybe they should only get paid for those sleep period hours when they are actually called out to respond?
Secondly, the workers compensation/disability rules are ridiculesly "generous"! Because they are required to stay physically fit, they can get workers comp pay if they injure themselves in sports or athletic events on their days off! The classic example is a firefighter who sprained his ankle while jogging on the beach in Hawaii while on vacation - and got the City to pay for his time off instead of having to use sick leave! The firefighters Union fights for these kinds of "rights" - abuses?
Lastly, there is a true story of just how good and attractive/lucrative it is to be a Palo Alto firefighter, even compared to other City jobs. An employee who held a City job as a manager in another Department recently took a $20,000.00 per year pay CUT in base salary to become an entry level firefighter. That pretty much says it all......
It's time for some changes, folks!
wow.... above comment from "i dont get it" resident from another community. How is it that you have become an "authority " of what you think goes on in the firehouse??? Were you on vacation with the firefighter in Hawaii??? Is that not a hippa violation?? Where are YOU getting your INFO???
The short 4-6 minute response time is for the flatlands between Mountain View and Menlo Park, Hwy 101 to Foothill Expwy. 1/3 of the city is open space and parks. It takes 20+ minutes to get a Palo Alto paramedic to these remote calls most of the year, and that is only if the Palo Alto paramedics can find the correct location. When the 120 days of staffing the foothills station is happening, you can still bet you won't get a decent response time. Shopping for goceries, training or heading down to the flatlands early is common. Can you hold your breath for 20+ minutes?
I don't get it is absolutely wrong- firefighters use sick leave while they can't come to work because of an off duty injury.
"There are a hundred things this city does that ought to be cut but firefighting and emergency services are NOT one of them."
For the nth time on this blog, THE CITY IS NOT PLANNING TO CLOSE ANY FIRE STATIONS!
"This is the first time the firefighters have ever asked me to sign any petition. … I do want our firefighters to know that we really appreciate them."
So if I ask you to sign a petition will you sign it - regardless of what it says! -- because it's the first time I ever asked?
Do those of you signing the petition even know what you are signing? Or do you just respond to the fear tactics the union uses outside Safeway, e.g., your homes will burn down, response time will be longer, … ?
The unions want you to agree that the city council can NEVER lay off firefighters or close a fire station.
That puts the union in complete control. Do you trust them more than you trust the council? Do you think the council wants your house to burn down? Council members live here, too.
And don't be surprised if the other unions jump on the bandwagon. Soon the unions will be running the city and you'll be paying whatever they demand.
NOT signing the petition doesn't mean you hate firefighters. It means you don't want to be at the mercy of the unions.
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"Can you hold your breath for 20+ minutes?"
David, you probably can. Looking at your arguments, you're already brain dead.
It is refreshing to see so many folks responding rationally to the unreasonable demands of the fire union and union boss. We all want safety services but the cost of the PAFD is way out of line with the market. It is time Palo Alto started looking at other options for emergency services. In the short run I'd like to see PAFD salaries cut 20% across the board and the staffing reduced at least 20%. As an intermediate solution I'd like to see the staffing restructured to meet the actual services required. There were only 200 fires in Palo Alto in 2007-2008 (per an editorial in the PA Daily). Why do we need all these fire staffers who spend most of their time sleeping, reading, eating and shopping, all while being paid huge salaries. In the long run Palo Alto should evauluate outsourcing the fire dept. It should be a regional resposibility focused mostly on paramedic services. We need to get the cost back down to what the market forces would pay.
To "how come I get it" and "Anonymous" -
The fact that you don't believe the facts is exactly the problem. People like you continue to buy into the Firfefighter's Union hype and ignore the underlying issues. Enough firefighter groupies like the two of you will ensure that such abuses are perpetuated. If you really think I'm wrong, how about doing some independent research on your own, instead of just believing the Unions?
And - it is absolutely a fact that firefighters can and have gotten workers comp pay at City and taxpayers expense - NOT sick leave - for getting injured doing "exercise" on their time off. Check the case law on that one and learn the truth - if you actually even care what the truth is...?
Folks like you are exactly who the Union has targeted with the petition - looks like they know the audience pretty well. How sad!
This is reminiscent of the HSR initiative. People voted YES because it sounded good and green. But how many actually knew the details, which we now realize were complete fabrications.
Amazing how people can vote against their own interests because they fall for they hype and don't read the fine print.
The underlying problem with all this is, no one wants to admit they spent too much, and no one wants to be the villain that takes back the money that has already been promised. Dis-organization, mis-information, and gallons of unbreakable pride is whats to blame for whats happening to this beautiful city that reminds me of Chicago suburbs. If only those people could gather up their courage and admit they were wrong, or that they spent to much, or that they can't handle the job. Admitting your failures, is the best path to victory and growth. I think the leaders around here have a standard to live up to, and I dont know if they are living up to material standards or moral standards, but their pride wont let them break out of the standards that are expected of them. We need courage, and honesty, and understanding. Sympathy for our fellow citizens, from that rude lady that doesnt even look at anyone unless they speak "Millions" to the war vet ina wheel chair in the plaza. Sympathy and respect tied together with understanding and courage.
Frankly, my friend, They don't give a damn!
to "i don't get it" , your "independent research" on the issue of the injured firefighter sounds like you heard gossip and are preaching it like the gospel. How do you know who is getting workmans comp pay and what their ailments are??? THat is a major HIPPA violation for you to be broadcasting it if you are basing your "facts" from perhaps processing the paperwork for the firefighter .
Furthermore , your "facts" on the hours a firefighter spends at the "office" is incorrect. Sorry I wont be believing your "gospel".
Stay in your own kitchen until you get the real facts!!!!
the great thing about an "open forum" or "town square" posting is that everybody can claim to be anybody and claim fiction as fact. some think that posting anonymous statements relinquishes that person or persons from any responsibility in offering honest or truthful statements of fact. remember what you read in the above postings are rants at best. don't base any rational decision on anonymous claims.
Thanks to "I don't get it" for relevant, insightful, knowledgeable data. I think he is corect in that many of the pro-union posters on this site are PAFD union members.
Not too long ago I was one of many folks who thought of firemen/women as hard workers to be respected. I realized they had some unusual perks and benefits, but it seemed a fair tradeoff for the rate of pay and level of commitment. Now my opinion has changed. Now I see a the PAFD as a bunch of union folks, led by a union boss, asking for unreasonable demands. This latest ploy (the ballot initiative) is completely one sided and totally about treating the PAFD more favorably than all others. It confirms any doubt that I may have had that the PAFD union cares about the residents of Palo Alto. I suggest the PAFD staff think about what their union boss is doing to their reputation. It is going to be a challenge for the PAFD folkks to rebuild the trust and confidence of the citizens of Palo Alto.
The City Council voted 7 - 2 Monday night "Requesting that the City Council Recommend to the Voters of Palo Alto that they not sign the Union Petition seeking to remove the ability of the Council to determine appropriate staffing levels for the Fire Department." (quote from Item 15 if the Agenda)
It was also pointed out that if you have already signed the petition and you change your mind and you wish to withdraw your signature, you may go down to the City Clerk's office and request to have your name withdrawn.
I find it interesting that the Palo Alto City Council is urging the voters of Palo Alto to not sign the petition, thus not even giving the voter the choice of voting yes or no on the ballot measure.
If you read the measure it clearly states that FIRST the voters have to approve the measure in the first place by approving by a majority in the regular November election. THEN if the VOTERS OF PALO ALTO approve the measure, they the VOTERS OF PALO ALTO would in the future have to approve by a majority of the voters. Fire Station closures and reductions in the number of paramedics and firefighters responding to emergencies in Palo Alto.
By signing the petition only NOTHING has been changed, all the signers are doing is asking that the measure be placed on the November ballot so that the VOTERS IN PALO ALTO can make a vote on the measure.
The proposed measure still would need to be approved by the MAJORITY of PALO ALTO VOTERS in the regular November election.
The Palo Alto City Council is basicly telling the people and voters of Palo Alto that the Council feels the people of Palo Alto should not have a say or vote in regard to their safety and emergency response. Why else would the City Council want to urge people to give up their right to vote on any proposed cuts and reductions in emergency services.
Signing the Firefighters petition is only asking that the measure be placed on the November ballot. THE MEASURE WOULD STILL NEED TO BE APPROVED BY THE VOTERS. If every voter in Palo Alto signed the petition tomorrow that would only place the proposed measure on the regular November election ballot. THEN the measure would still need to be approved by the voters.
The Council is asking that you give up your right to vote! They do not want the people of Palo Alto to have a voice or a vote regarding their own safety or emergency response.
I can not think of one good reason as to why Palo Alto residents should not have a voice or be given the chance to cast a yes or no vote when it comes to public safety. Reducing staffing, shutting down units or closing a fire station will have an impact on response, safety and lives and property. I would question the motives of any goverment agency that would tell the people they should not have a voice.
Jake, you are twisting words. As it stands right now, PA residents don't have the right to vote on PAFD staffing levels, so we are not losing anything that we don't have already.
I love PAFD. But the initiative is wrong. We cannot have every item in our city operations micro-managed by a city-wide vote! We elect our city council to manage these things for us. The city council hires top management, who then hires staff, to implement and manage city needs.
Even though PA finances are a bit of a mess right now, the system does have its merits.
Shall we have a vote on the staffing level of every department? Should we vote on the number of electricians available for emergency repairs to power lines? How about librarians for Sundays?
There is a point where you need to hand over most of the oversight to smaller set of residents - i.e., the city council. If you don't like what they're doing, go to the meetings and speak up or elect someone who will the job to your liking.
Yes - signing the initiative does nothing but provide for a vote. But it is ridiculous to think that every resident should vote on staffing levels - exactly how many of our neighbors are experts on FD staffing?
Jake - this does not make sense and you know it.
and, iirc, the initiative would require a 2/3 majority to approve changes in staffing levels, not just a simple majority.
I can't imagine tying the hands of the council and city management like that.
Jake is correct in that nothing changes until the voters decide. BUT, do we really want to have an election every time the size of the fire department staff needs to change?
Elections cost money. It will cost about $200K just to put this one initiative on the ballot.
Any proposal to changing the staffing level would require two public hearings and approvals by both the City Council and the majority of city voters. Thus, another election, another $200K.
So, if the city wanted to lay off one fire-fighter, it would cost $200K to do that!
Should we also require a vote every time the city wants to lay off a secretary? A janitor? A computer tech?
The firefighters are asking you to put staffing in the hands of their union: full employment for all forever. Other unions will follow suit.
It's completely self-serving and it's costing us all.
I completely agree with the recent comments and their reasoning why the union driven initiative is not in the best interest of Palo Alto residents. Now I am curious which two city council persons were the two who were on the losing end of the 7-2 vote. Why would they not take a stand that is clearly in the better interests of Palo Alto? Would be interesting to see who the big contributors to there campaign finances were.
I think that every person who signs the petition should pony up some money to pay for the election. It'd only be, what about $40 a pop? It does hurt to "just sign your name so it can be voted on", it hurts for about $200,000.
Pat "put staffing in the hands of the union"?
The measure would let the voters of Palo Alto have a voice at a regular election in November. The Council is asking people to not sign a petition so they would not even have a choice to vote in the future, YES or NO on the residents safety. The measure would also require public meetings so the residents and council can discuss the issues.
If the measure is such a bad idea than why did two Council members not stand with the others as somebody already pointed out?
We are talking about a very important basic city service regarding public safety, not how many vollyball nets are needed in Palo Alto.
The measure is not a special election measure, it's for the November regular election. How people are coming up with $200,000 cost is yet to see.
Look at how many other non public safety items have been on past ballots in Palo Alto through the years.
The City Council are not experts on public safety, they get most of their information from the City Manager.
The residents of Palo Alto have many other resident staffed review boards and committees, public meetings on many items. But many of the Council want the residents to not have public hearings prior to a vote or a vote where the people of Palo Alto can voice their opinion, get answers and in the end cast a vote in favor or against cuts in the Fire Dept and Paramedic services.
Jake says "But many of the Council want the residents to not have public hearings prior to a vote or a vote where the people of Palo Alto can voice their opinion". The people of Palo Alto voiced thier opinion when they elected their city council. Seven of those leaders have gone on the record stating that they are against the union petition. They are representing the people. If we don't like their actions they will get voted out. The two council folks who didn't take a stand (any one know who they are?) will not get my vote next time.
Ballot initiatives should be for important, critical issues. A union petition to guarantee full employment for overpaid, under worked union folks and their union boss doesn't fall in to this category. A topic that might qualify is outsourcing the fire and paramedic services. It would be a significant move and folks might want to vote on that. Based on the recent tactics of the union and the difficulty in keeping the costs in line, I would support outsourcing.
In the short tun I would support a 20% decrease acroos the board in PAFD salaries and a 20% reduction in staffing levels. In the longer run the whole concept of providing fire protection and paramedic services needs to be re-evaluated.
The day you let the public safety unions determine staffing levels is the day you might as well dissolve the City government and hand the reins over. Firefighters have been riding on the coats of 9/11 for too long, counting on the public's fear to pressure officials into giving them want they want: control over staffing, better benefits (than what Joe Citizen has), better retirement (90% or more of salary), great working hours (I'd like to get paid for sleeping), etc. Maybe those same firefighters should spend some time in Iraq, serving as a front line soldier - working long hours in the intense heat, getting shot at, dodging car bombs, getting paid minimal wages - all for a paltry maximum of 50% of salary, assuming s/he lives long enough to retire. I have no sympathy for firefighters,.
After reading Tina Peak's letter "firefighters outdated" I felt that someone needed to speak up on behalf on the firefighters. Obviously this resident has no clue what these hard working men and women do every day for our community. The position of a firefighter is not "archaistic". Firefighters in Palo Alto do not just fight fires. They also handle medical calls, traffic accidents, natural disasters, gas leaks as well as many other situations. Firefighters and police are specially trained for what they do. These two careers don't just overlap. It is an insult to suggest they provide "emergency medical aide". Most firefighters are EMT's or paramedics. They are first responders meaning that they are the first medical personnel at the scene and they have highly specialized training and knowledge to save a life, whether it be heart attack, drug overdose, stroke or auto accident. In addition they also have extensive training in fire science, extrication, search and rescue and much, much more. They are far above being an "aide". To be a firefighter/paramedic takes years of school and training.Many pay for this out of their own pockets. Firefighters and police are like apples and oranges. Totally different training and job. I
m not knocking the police. They go through extensive training too, but for fighting crime not heart attacks.
"Replacing the old firefighters" would put our community at risk. You cannot replace the years of training and experience these men and women have. I feel like this resident is under the impression that firefighters don't work "full time" which couldn't be farther from the truth. They are constantly training, studying, practicing their skills, testing, responding to calls, maintaining the fire house and the vehicles. They aren't just sitting around doing nothing at the station waiting for a call. Each station is responsible for calls in a certain area of their neighborhood. Do you realize the response time to a call if they were across town doing a "task". When they are on duty, they are ready to react to whatever comes their way, within just a few minutes. Each shift works as a team. Without one person, that team cannot function. During the 24 hour shift, the team is always together. Some medical calls or fires can take hours leaving a team exhausted. It is crucial that firefighters get the sleep they need as well as the nutrients from healthy meals to be able to do their job. Being a FF/Paramedic is a very physical job that takes its toll on the body's constant exposure to smoke, chemicals, lifting, climbing and so on. These men and women earn every penny and to be honest, I think they deserve more!
Many may not realize that probably 90% of our FF's do not live in our city! Just like many others, they can't afford to! Some live up to 2-3 hours away. Knowing that, if the big one hits, and the bridges and roads are closed, if they are sleeping at the stations, then who is going to be here to help us!??
I would suggest that this resident spend some time at a station talking to the firefighters and maybe going out on a ride along for a twelve hour shift. I think it would a very eye opening and life changing experience.
And by the way, the petition going around, the FF's are doing that on their UNPAID DAYS OFF. The PA city council is totally out of touch with this city and what it does and does not need. We don't need a ugly egg sculpture! Don't cut back on public safety in any way ! It will get you in the end with longer response times and very unhappy residents.
I am not a FF but I have all the respect for them and what they do for us every day. Not many would sacrifice leaving their families for long shifts and putting their lives at risk. Some of you should be more grateful and stop complaining. Or better yet move to a town that doesnt have 911 and see how that goes for ya.
Great job FF's! I sleep better at night knowing you are just a phone call away if we ever need you!!!!
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