Carissa Pillow, a candidate for Brentwood City Council, posted something interesting on her blog today regarding last night’s Brentwood City Council meeting that I find appalling.
First off, shame on the Brentwood City Council for putting this Fire Service Model blame all on Councilman Joel Bryant as the swing vote. The last the last time I checked ECCFPD stood for East Contra Costa Fire Protection District, not the Brentwood Fire District.
Furthermore, the reality is Mr. Bryant is one vote of nine and is the only one in Brentwood to remove his council hat and put on his ECCFPD hat while listening to the fire professionals and the public from Monday’s meeting.
Let me be clear, this is not Brentwoods district which is exactly why Brentwood is outnumbered by the other directors. If Brentwood continues its power play then it would be in Discovery Bay’s, Oakley’s and even the County’s best interest to bring litigation against the specific directors showing that are demonstrating self-serving actions which I believe would be a slam dunk—ultimately, they would be relieved of their highest seat in office.
Apparently Steve Barr, Erick Stonebarger and Bob Brockman think they are smarter than the two fire chiefs and many captains’ who made recommendations on which service model is best. I’d like to know where these three directors can explain where they got all this fire science and resource deployment know-how all the sudden.
More to the point, not one person spoke up in favor of a two-man fire crew at Monday’s meeting which means they were not listening to the public anyway! They were looking out for their own special interests in Brentwood when they should be looking out for the District. Many Brentwood folks at the meeting spoke out against two-man crews. It’ didn’t matter to these three Brentwood stooges, they already had their minds made up which is a dangerous way to govern!
I salute Councilman Bryant for making the courageous decision of looking at the District while he chose not to sell out the firefighters and Local 1230. He went with advice of professionals, not inexperienced board directors which is exactly what the other four board members did in joining Bryant with their vote.
Now onto Ms. Pillows who is running for a council seat. She is now questioning the leadership of the Board but I’ve never heard her speak at a single meeting nor offer a letter to the editor with suggestions on fire services over the last two years this had been discussed. She is a hypocrite and a “Johnny come lately” with her post which I’ve included the fire portion of her council recap below.
She can question the board all she wants, but she provided no input up until today on fire services. Meanwhile, her solution is to abandon ship and leave the District. Good luck with that one considering LAFCO would never allow it!
This suggestion of leaving the District is nothing more than a distraction, a waste of time, and doesn’t bring us any closer to a long-term solution.
Like Council members Barr, Stonebarger and Brockman, she is again her thinking on behalf of Brentwood when it’s a Districts problem. What Ms. Pillow should be doing is urging the Brentwood Council and staff to come up with a plan to assist the District as partner, not disgrace it.
I would encourage Ms. Pillows to attend the June 25 meeting and present this suggestion to the Board and see just how far it goes. Until then, I say welcome to the party Brentwood because the rest of us had cuts to our service for years which have effected response times.
Via Ms. Pillows Blog:
Old Business: Fire.
Measure S failed. The Fire Board had several choices before them. They could have voted for a 4 station hybrid model that would have allowed Brentwood to retain both fire stations, one fire station in Disco Bay and one in Oakley. The Fire Board that has our Vice mayor and our 3 councilmen representing Brentwood presiding alongside representation from the other areas of the district, voted against the 4 station model. Therefore, our downtown fire station will close.
Steve Barr’s comments: He felt the voters’ decisions were completely disregarded during the discussion, as the voters clearly are looking for fiscal responsibility from this Fire District. Instead of taking a hard look at fresh options to balance the budget with a 2 staff per engine model, the Board decided on a model that remains unsustainable. The 2 staff per engine model HAS been used in the past, and while not ideal, it does work.
Erik Stonebarger’s comments: He expressed EXTREME disappointment that the Board opted to close Brentwood’s downtown fire station. He remarked that Brentwood uses 50% of the fire services, and we are now completely underserved by the district. He feels Brentwood was “sold down the river”.
Bob Brockman’s comments: Bob did not feel the voters were completely ignored, but also expressed disappointment with the decision. He did appreciate the renewed interest in voluntary service and looks forward to new ideas on supplementing fire service in the future.
Joel Bryant’s comments: Joel was the only Brentwood representative that voted for the 3 staff per engine model. His vote was the swing vote that closed down Brentwood’s downtown fire station. He was visibly distraught as the other council members held him accountable for his decision. He stated that he felt compelled to defer to the judgment of the professionals who do the job. The Fire Department prefers the 3 staff per engine model, and he based his decision on their professional judgment.
The Mayor (Bob Taylor) wanted to know: Is Brentwood SAFE?
The opinion of all fire directors: NO. Brentwood is NOT SAFE FROM FIRE.
Carissa’s big O: This district is a disaster! It has been touch and go since it was developed. The archive articles in the Brentwood Press clearly show the continuous questions of the leadership. The budgetary wall that the district was up against was known about 2 years ago. Instead of dealing with these problems 2 years ago, the district pinned the voter’s backs against the wall and insisted on a last minute tax levy to “save” the district. I am unimpressed with this posturing tactic. This was a failure of the district.
Yes. I know that the revenue the district receives was directly impacted by the decrease in valuation of properties. Yes. This problem was a revenue problem. It was a revenue problem that developed in 2008. That was 4 years ago. Why weren’t the budgets adjusted 4 years ago??? The solutions should have been long since planned. Failure to plan is PLANNING TO FAIL! What a disaster!
My comments to the council: I am gravely concerned about the fire district. Our homes are surrounded by dry grass and we live in a community with a large senior population. This city cannot risk it’s safety for this failed fire district. We should leave the ECC Fire district, go local and recreate the Brentwood Fire District. I’m sure the fiscal impact is prohibitive. And I’m sure we’ll face litigation. But when coalition with other communities fail due to questionable leadership decisions; we must take action! The worst thing we can do is sit and wait. Inaction is the worst action that we can take. We must, at the very least, look take a hard look at walking away from this mess.
I’m sure that there are some people who will hate my commentary here. I betchya that I take some heat for this opinion! I’m okay with that. We ALL know that the taxpayers were backed into a corner on this issue. I personally feel that the marketing of Measure S was substandard. Now we all get to pay for the mistakes. Brentwood deserves better than this. We need to take back fire, the same way that we took back trash. I believe that the closer to home our tax dollars stay, the more responsible the men with the wallets will be. IMHO.
Oh, and Joel Bryant, not cool. Voting against Brentwood’s downtown fire station. Not. Cool.