City Hall OK with Southeast Side as Toast

From the City of DeKalb press release regarding the fire fighter layoffs, dated July 15:

The City Council has entered into agreements with the FOP and AFSCME unions, along with the City’s management employees, on wage concessions to avoid layoffs. “Unfortunately, we have been unable to come to a similar agreement with IAFF,” Biernacki said. “While IAFF’s latest proposal included some economic concessions, their proposal also included terms that would extend their contract for another 12 months past the current contract expiration date of June 30, 2011. Given the uncertainty over the economy, both now and in the foreseeable future, the Council felt that by extending their contract, the City’s hands would be tied for too long of a time period before which the City could potentially approach IAFF to discuss other economic matters within their contract.” Biernacki also said that the City Council felt that an inappropriate inequity would result between IAFF and the rest of the employee groups if they were to accept IAFF’s proposal.

I get the “hands tied” thing, but there remains the nagging feeling that internal equity is the first priority with this administration. Downtown renewal is the second priority, airport is Number Three, and basic services — especially for the neglected southeast side — clearly lag in fourth place, as you will see in a moment.

With these layoffs, the City’s fire and EMS services are not expected to materially change at this time. “We will still perform and deliver high quality and professional emergency services to DeKalb and its residents,” Fire Chief Bruce Harrison said. “Our highly trained and professional staff will always be there in time of need and will not allow the safety of our community to be compromised.” Harrison said that adjustments in Fire Department operations will be made to ensure the service delivery the community has come to expect. He also said closures of any of the City’s three fire stations are not being considered at this time. [emphasis added.]

I’ve been by Station No. 2 (South 7th Street) several times over the past couple days and there is no longer a fire engine housed there, only an ambulance. According to the new blog Save DeKalb, the reduction was effective August 1.

In my book, that’s a material change in services for the worse.

Where’s the press release about that?