Brentwood Press Endorses Measure S

Kudos to the Brentwood Press for taking the time to learn the issue, investigate the history, talk to firefighters and really understand the problem as opposed to taking an anti-tax measure stance regardless of the consequences.

Unlike the Contra Costa Times Editorial Board who are lazy by essentially providing a copy and paste job by the Contra Costa Taxpayers Association, the Brentwood Press explained many things that the Times left out or cared not to share in order to present their opinion as fact.

Brentwood Press did their homework and presented facts in their opinion.  Here are a couple of highlights and I’d urge you to wonder over to their site (link below) and read the fully editorial.

  • The discussion has included literally dozens of public meetings over more than a decade. The need for standardized service has been confirmed by several reports from fire industry experts, county government analysis and even Local 1230, the union that represents ECCFPD firefighters. All have consistently reached the same conclusion: it is time for far East County to upgrade its fire service.
  • District revenue, locked in by 1978’s Proposition 13 at 7 cents on the property-tax dollar, is enough to pay for only the volunteer departments that heroically served the area for decades prior to the onrush of suburbia.
  • But even when the two-tier system is adopted, the debt generated by those already in the system will continue to grow until those on the lower tier become the majority of the employees. Even if retirement benefits were eliminated entirely for second-tier employees, years would pass before that would make a significant impact on the district’s bottom line.
  • But if Measure S fails in June, the district will run out of money in July. Half the district’s stations will close, and half its firefighters will be laid off. Opponents decry those facts as scare tactics, but although they are scary, they are reality. The political realities also mean that it could be years before a different measure can be agreed to and passed.

  • The question is how many firefighters will be on duty while the fixes are put in place. Measure S ensures the current model will stay in place, augmented by the paramedics the public has said it wants on fire engines.
  • If Measure S fails, the solutions must be worked out with half the personnel, half the stations, and response times that will jump from six or seven minutes to 14 or 15 minutes or more for half the district’s residents. Homeowners’ insurance for some residents in the Morgan Territory area quadrupled in the wake of the district’s closure of stations in 2010, and some policies were cancelled entirely, threatening the underlying mortgage. The same is likely to happen in other areas of the district should stations close, according to State Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones.

You can read the full editorial by on the Brentwood Press website by clicking here.

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About burkforoakley

I call it like I see it . I love my city, I love my community and I want what is best for the people around me. Do the right thing, I will support you. Do the wrong thing, I will oppose you!
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2 Responses to Brentwood Press Endorses Measure S

  1. Jeff B says:

    This Editorial contained a lot of words but none of them pointed to or recommended a solution other than taking in a large new tax from people who already have a huge tax load and it only is going to get worse. The new tax does not solve the long standing problem, it makes it worse. I believe the responsible thing to do is to vote NO and push for a real solution (an example of which is outlined below).

    This Editorial also did not put the new tax is proper perspective. Some like to hide the real magnitude by dividing it down to a weekly or daily amount…you can play games with the numbers all you want but what matters is the real magnitude of the total cost. With this tax a community the size of DB (about 5,400 homes) will be paying in at least an additional $10,000,000.00 and that does not buy any commitment for any level of service. And as many have pointed out this new tax will eventually cause the separate AMR paramedic with a Quick Response Vehicle stationed in DB to be removed….this will be a huge loss. I recall specifically, when my son was injured at school it was this AMR vehicle that was first to the scene by more than a trivial amount of time. It was this AMR paramedic who provided all of the treatment. What if the fire engine had been on a fire call and this AMR vehicle did not exist? DB has a large population center and is a long way from the ambulance base…this AMR Quick Response Vehicle needs to stay and is way better than having the third person on the fire engine being the only paramedic in the area.

    Sorry to say it must be pointed out that this Editorial contains misleading information. It was written to lead one to believe that if you live in the ECCFPD your tax allocation for fire is 7%….I can say mine happens to be 20% more than what was stated (mine is 8.39%). Why would a misleading statement be included? Maybe for the same desperate reason the union has stooped to similar tactics.

    NOW MY REAL POINT……

    Outlined below is a 14 segment proposal to fix the CCC fire/EMS financial situation. This plan, although not perfect, does provide financial sustainability and firefighter job security. It will not be easy or overnight to implement and some will hate it but it is an all encompassing plan and nothing of this magnitude has been brought forward by the new tax proponents or the fire boards (why the heck not?).

    Key point >>> this plan does not call for fire dept employees to do anything unique or have a comp plan that is not standard in typical city/metro paid full-time fire stations across the country.

    1) Creat a brand NEW (not a merged) CCC county fire/EMS entity that will be the foundation for the savings necessary for financial sustainability and job stability going forward. This foundation will include at a minimum:

    2) A tiered comp plan that does not exceed the national average even at the highest tier (former Con Fire people would be taking a definite cut, former ECCFPD people not so much).

    3) Meaningful pension and benefit reform. This a big deal and will have major impact further into the future.

    4) Inclusion of POC/2-hat/reserve or other less than full time programs for strategic use and to supplement 2 person crews on a regular basis and to be the primary source of the 2nd (or 3ed) crew member in select regular station staffing scenarios (byron, knightsen, morgan, BI, DB# 2, BW# 2, and others that I do not have knowledge of. A target should be set that at any given time a certain percent of the staff on duty at stations (say 20%) would be something other than full time. The union will fight this like a wild dog as it cuts into their power base.

    5) leveraging of management and administration including a reduction from current levels that exist in the separate FDs. Fewer heads will be needed by a more leveraged entity.

    6) All county EMS oversight under one roof and under the administration of the fire chief. Starting/joining a regional EMS consortium (5 already exist in CA).

    7) The BOS membership must give up multiple offices and 50% of their operations overhead $$ (they can make it up with office holder accounts) with the savings going directly to fire/EMS. This BOS contribution is very critical to union and voter acceptance.

    8) Use of the most cost effective shift structure like Cal Fire uses. The union will fight this but it works for the largest fire department in the state.

    9) Variable deployment/crew size strategies….the population centers get more, rural gets less.

    10) Maximization of vendor support (such as Cal Fire and AMR) and vendor deployment. Max use of AMR to provide paramedic services (unless the new fire/ems entity can show a profitable business plan for providing additional services such as paramedic and or transport).

    11) Strategic station brown outs (by time, by day, by season).

    12) The potential for specific communities such as brentwood that have separate fire funds to ‘juice’ their basic coverage.

    13) absolute commitment to implement P-zone/district like supplemental fire/ems revenue programs for new development in ALL areas served by the NEW county fire/ems entity (Pantages is a perfect example).

    14) AFTER all the above is worked out, committed to and when implementation has commenced then and only then if more tax can be justified the voters can be asked to consider a new revenue (tax) measure (much much smaller than Measure S). BUT any new tax must have some form of automatic cut back if and when other revenue sources increase. The tax now before the voters will fail….a tax as proposed herein that is the last part of an overall plan will have a better chance to be approved by the voters.

    Vote NO on Measure S and press those in control for a real solution such as the above 14 segment proposal.

  2. Bob says:

    Kudos, Jeff. Much improved. At least readable. And why quibble over important details like dollars and cents to make it work?

    Now if you knock out the 4 or 5 illegal ones, get rid of the pettiness with the second office crack and you actually have a working document. Print it out and start planning the multiple trips you will need to make to Martinez to pitch it. Plus start allotting the hundreds of hours of personal time that you will need to invest to move it forward

    What, you say?

    Speaking from experience, Jeff, and on local advocacy issues. You think the gate issue in Lakeshore or the P-6 or this fire deal is advocated by sitting at a keyboard barking orders? No, my friend. It’s hard frickin’ work. All serious grass roots efforts are.

    Many, many, many hours of research, lobbying and talking to officials. Your grand plan, however, dwarfs anything I’ve ever attempted. So when I spent 200 hrs on a gate or maybe 300 to see a P-6 plan completed, you’re staring at several multiples of that because of the scope and number of agencies you included. But on the bright side, your effort will span over a decade so you can spread the time out.

    The only drawback I see here is the demand you put in that action must be in motion before a new assessment can be brought back to the ballot. Based on reasonable expectations for meaningful progress on your plan, I have serious reservations there will be much left in east county after a decade with only half a fire department.

    But good first cut though. Trim it down so people can take you seriously, then put on your walking shoes. I wish you luck.

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