Saturday, January 30, 2010

Bossier City first responders are looking out for you. Are you doing the same for them?

A lot has been said about the cuts in fire and police protection in Bossier City, and in the next couple of months a lot more will be said. A lot of people are very unhappy about the cuts and about the way the city has been managed; some people are saying that because of this perceived mismanagement, they will not vote for the tax renewal on May 1.
Think about this seriously. As to managing or mismanaging, that is for the people to decide. You are very upset now but where were you 8 months ago? This problem has been building, but last spring Bossier City had an election and the people who are now howling were strangely silent. The only person to get into a city race against an incumbent was in the at-large council race, where Marsha McAllister put in a bid for one of the two seats currently held by David Montgomery and Tim Larkin. One of her themes was the budget and Bossier City’s financial crisis. She received 20% of the vote and both incumbents were returned to office.
In District 5 incumbent Dr. James Rogers stepped down, and James “Chubby” Knight was elected to fill the seat.
Mayor Lo Walker was unopposed.
Councilman Scott Irwin was unopposed.
Councilman Jeff Darby was unopposed.
Councilman David Jones was unopposed.
Some of you are calling for their heads now, but 8 months ago it was your responsibility to give them a report card and pass or fail them, and you gave them straight A’s – across the board.
Come down to reality, the fiscal situation is what it is. It is time to get past the blame game and face the future in an intelligent manner. You didn’t care anything about accountability half a year ago, so you’re going to have to wait another 3½ years to deal with it.
In the meantime, the choice is simple. You can vote for the fire and police tax renewal on May 1st, not a new tax but renewal of a current one, and keep police and fire levels at the already cut current levels, or you can vote no to the renewal and probably cause a lot of problems for the city in the very near future.
In addition, the increases in contributions to the Police retirement fund will create another shortfall that could dictate even more layoffs. The council needs to step up and deal with this in some manner, and you need to let them know where you stand.
Remember the old adage, if you are pointing a finger at someone you have three more pointing back at you.
Bossier City has some really great firefighters and police officers, men and women who sincerely love the city and the people in it, and who work selflessly to serve. They have your back, and they trust that you have theirs.
If you are not willing to pay them, then quite frankly you don’t deserve them. It’s your decision.

16 comments:

  1. Thank you Jim for you continued support of the men and women who serve Bossier City.
    Heather Carter

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  2. I think most people foolishly thought our city's leaders were doing the right thing for us. Before this fall, I would have never believed that we were in for such a crisis. I suppose one could say that ignorance was bliss. I will certainly admit that I was among those who blindly trusted that our city leaders would do the right thing. They haven't, and I think it's a terrible shame that the citizens and the young families affected by this will now pay the price. In the future, I will personally make sure that I have done my homework. My hope is that my voice is among those of an entire city, not just a handful. I do believe, however, that the way to begin to change the way our city is run is to find out exactly what happened and how. So yes, there needs to be some personal accountablilty on the parts of our elected officials. Only once we have a full picture of how exactly these budgeting mistakes were made can we correct them. My husband and our family as a whole is making sacrifices for this city. He will put on that uniform every single day that they will let him. Please help him protect you in the future. Please vote for this renewal and then please educate yourself and our leaders on how to run our city.

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  3. There is a great civics lesson here. Thomas Jefferson said "Every government degenerates when trusted to the rulers of the people alone. The people themselves are its only safe depositories."

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  4. A Long Time Bossier ResidentJanuary 30, 2010 at 9:38 PM

    The situation in Bossier City is serious and will effect that safety of the citizens. From my understanding that regardless if this tax renewal passes there will be 20 police officer and 20 firefighters by the end of 2010. If this tax renewal doesn’t pass, those numbers will probably be just that beginning.

    I retired in Bossier City twenty years ago and have seen this city grow beyond what I ever thought it would be. This is not the same Bossier City it was then. They dynamics have changed, and if it weren’t for a strong and well staffed police and fire department, those changes probably wouldn’t have been good.

    I also remember, up until about three months ago before the financial problems surfaced, people were praising the police and fire departments. Why? Because Bossier City had a higher fire rating that lowered their homeowners insurance. The police department held crime at bay which helped Bossier City to be named by Business Week to be one of the best places in Louisiana to raise a family. But now that the city council , the mayor, and -in my opinion- the finance director have screwed the pooch, many citizens are thinking about taking their frustration out on the rank and file police officer and fire fighter.
    
Are the people who are saying “Screw the police officers and firefighters” the same people who last October were worried about rising water damaging their home and saying they were so thankful that the police and fire departments were there for them. Are these the same people who first learned about the pending lay offs then and said they would do what ever they could to prevent the lay offs? Are these the same people who will be wanting someone to come protect their property when another tornado comes through their neighborhood? Are these the same people who don’t need the police and fire departments now and will be voting no on the tax renewal? PROBABLY SO!

    The police and fire departments have come to our aid when we needed them time and time again, so are we going to turn our backs on them now that they need us? Like I said, it was city officials who screwed the pooch, not the rank and file police officer or firefighter that felt it was necessary to build a cyber innovation center before really finding out if the Air Force was going to put Cyber Command at Barksdale. It wasn’t the rank and file police officer who decided to spend millions of dollars the city really didn’t have for building projects, like a multi-level parking garage on a privately owned shopping center, and the list goes on.



    Finally, I have read articles and heard many people say, or parrot what someone else has said, that Bossier City has too many police officers and firefighters compared to other cities its size, but never do you hear them name of the cities they are comparing Bossier City to. So, here are some question I have about this matter.
    To start off what cities are you comparing Bossier City to?
    Are they stand alone cities or are they, like Bossier City, part of metroplex area of over 350,000 population?
    Do they have a major military installation adjacent to it?
    Are they growing as fast as Bossier City?
    Do they have three casinos in a horse racing track within their boundaries?
    And finally, what are the problems those other cities are facing because of smaller police and fire departments? 
As for me I feel blessed to know that if I need a police officer or fire fighters in Bossier City, they will respond in a few short minutes and not several long minutes.
    So, if you vote no on the tax renewal to teach the city officials a lesson, keep their phone numbers handy and call one of them when may need emergency services, and see which one of them will respond.

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  5. A Long Time Bossier Resident~
    I'm not sure who you are but thank you! It is encouraging for the families involved when you see that some of the citizens of Bossier City really do get it.
    Heather Carter

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  6. That was very well said. Thanks for the comment.

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  7. Thank you "long time Bossier City Resident"...I can't tell you how much we appreciate your support...you couldn't have said it better

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  8. A long time ago, on a snowy saturday morning, i myself was in desperate need of the Fire and Police Department. Although the incident took away someone very special and important to me in my life, it gave me a sense of admiration and respect for Bossier City. They handled everything so professionaly and took care of me( i was only 13). I wont bore you with any other details, but you can look it up if youd like.

    The point of my story is that these people put do this community a service. The service is intangible. There is no price too great to pay for the sense of safety and security these men and women give our city. Why do they do it? I cannot answer that question. What i can say is that i have great deal of appreciation for each and every officer that puts their lives and personal well-being on the line so that i can sleep with a sound mind that i am going to wake up to a peaceful city.

    Mrs. Moore, you are dead on when you say accountabilty. Someone needs to step up and take responsibility for the vast oversite that is going to be effecting our city over the next year and foreseeable future. These officers do their jobs, and they do them well. For the city to say "oops", we're outta money and just toss people to the side, is absolutely obsurd. This also goes for the city employees that are going to be or have been laid off already. These people do their jobs and EXPECT a certain level of job security, which apparently was misplaced trust. I offer my deepest apologies to the families effected by the ignorance and, in my opinion, corruption that have left you "out to dry" because no one in the mayor's office or any member of the city council will say it.

    Just as a final thought, i want all the men and women that serve our city to know, there are people out here who do care. I pray for some fix that will allow everything to return to normal and allow you to provide for your loved ones again.

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  9. It is absurd for anyone to even consider not voting for the tax renewal. All citizens should be more involved in city government so that the officials are more accountable. Only then will solutions be found that do not line pockets that have been lined in the past. Each decision should not go unnoticed. This is a wake up call. The next time I will not have the same feelings.

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  10. "It is time to get past the blame game and face the future in an intelligent manner."

    Good line, Jim. Diitto.

    ...What Long Time Bossier Resident said. No reason to type it all out when somebody else does it for ya'. Well said LTBR!

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  11. Lifetime Bossier ResidentJanuary 31, 2010 at 9:08 AM

    Jim, noboby wants another police or fireman to lose their job due to the idiocies of our city council & Mayor's office, but please stop saying this isn't a tax increase. The millage today is 4 mills and if the proposal is approved by voters this Spring it will be raised "back" to 6 mills. Now, you can say that it should never have been rolled back to 4, but please don't insult our intelligence by stating that this is a renewal of the current tax because it is not.
    Mr Buffington should have been fired by now for his incompetence based on his knowing the fire dept retirement fund was going to be $800K short and never inquiring as to what kind of shortfall the police fund would have especially since they are virtually brother & sister in their investments. If by chance Buffington did bring this to the Mayor & council's attention before the budget was put together and they didn't act then we have a much larger problem all the way around.

    Where are the recall petitions?

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  12. I honestly wasn't aware that it was going from 4% to 6%, bad on my part. I will clarify that in my next post. Thanks for bringing it to my attention.

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  13. Well, instead of asking where the recall petition is, why not start one? The bottom line is, we have to come up with a solution first, then worry about cleaning out the city government. These employees don't have time to wait for the citizens to first clean house, hold special elections, etc...they need a fix now or very shortly.
    Call it a tax renewal or call it a tax increase, whatever. The real point is that at 4.9 mills you are paying maybe $49/year on a 100K home at 6 mils that's about $60/yr. $5/month...that's it. You'll waste that much on coffee or our useless newspaper...and you are already paying 82% of that. At that rate I'll pay an extra $19 this year. That's it. I'll gladly pay an extra $5-10/month or more to keep our city employees working and I would bet that when put into prospective most people would to ensure our city's safety. Enough with the semantics arguements. Are you willing to give up a latte, or a lottery ticket, or a weeks worth of newspapers, or one drive-thru meal per month to keep these people working and our city safe?

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  14. The real millage what Bossier City residents pay is 4.86. The renewal that was passed in 2000 was a 6 mill property tax. In order for it to be on the ballot for a RENEWAL it must be by law what the voters voted on originally and that was 6 mills

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  15. Regardless of what the millage rate is the only people who will benefit from this tax renewal being passed are the police and fire departments. They will also be the only departments that will have lay offs if the tax renewal does not pass.

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  16. This situation and the security of fire & police jobs will not be solved with this millage increase. We have a fundamental problem with an administration that pays the CAO (also the interim police chief) more than the mayor. We also have a Mayor that wanted to increase the pay of his workers after he announced fire & police layoffs.
    The citizens need to gird their loins and put immediate and constant pressure on these clowns every time they meet, but instead the council meetings are back to a virtual empty chamber with a Mayor that doesn't know "come here" from "sick'em"

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