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Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Fireman/EMT Issue

To the Editor:

I hate to talk shop about my own profession, but I love to listen to other people talk about theirs. It’s like being introduced to a new world. The Council workshop on the Fireman/EMT issue was fascinating because we heard various perspectives on a given set of facts. Our City Council did what the best legislative bodies under the Faulkner Act are supposed to do: oversight. Everyone understands Council does not have the authority to specify appropriations under the Faulkner Act. But if someone tries to tell you Council is violating the Act by fact-finding and conducting public workshops, know that person has simply misinterpreted the law. At best, they don’t know any better. At worst, they fear continuing the debate and are trying to stop it.

The Administration should also be commended for their acknowledgment of the facts presented. Where there was disagreement on conclusions, Council and Administration did so with mutual respect. We all love to hate politicians and government, but the only disrespect at this meeting came from some retired fireman and EMT in the audience.

We all agree that our public safety is second to none. But we have some choices to make. We have a boardwalk infrastructure that, whether it supports Ipe, plastic hardwood, or pine, is over 80 years old and will need to be replaced. Repairs are constantly being made on our roads and alleys, but not fast enough to stay ahead of deterioration. The need to replace our eroding beaches and check-valves on our bay will go on for as long as we’re here. We can neglect those problems but just remember this: with state budget caps in place, every dollar that goes towards increasing costs for our well-paid public safety is a dollar less invested in our future.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Fireman Murphy--Letter to the Editor of the Ocean City Patch

To the editor:

Your story about the efforts of Ocean City Councilmen Keith Hartzell and Scott Ping’s proposal to save millions of taxpayer dollars over time without reducing any personnel while maintaining the same level of service was interesting on more than one level. First, it revealed that it is possible to do by assigning EMTs to do EMT jobs instead of Firemen. Significant savings would result by reducing firemen overtime while still maintaining three dual role EMT/firemen where needed to run the ambulances for all shifts.

It was also interesting on another level. Union President, John Murphy’s comment: “It’s hard to see how a paper salesman and a butcher can come up with a proposal without any further expertise.” However Councilman Hartzell had clearly put much time and effort in his study of the department, including information he obtained from Fire Chief Foglio. Besides being intelligent businessmen dedicated to serving their community, Hartzell and Ping appeared as if they were the only Councilpersons who were not intimidated by the Firemen in the back of the room mumbling occasional heckles. Not a single other Councilperson uttered a comment or question. Were they afraid? Uninterested? What?

Fireman Murphy’s comment seems to reveal an attitude that the elected people’s representatives should stay out of their business. I hope I am wrong. We appreciate the services our firemen provide. But it should be made clear that they are employed to serve the public, not the other way around.