Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Aldermen hope lots of rich people get hurt this year

At the City Council meeting last night, aldermen won a Fire Department popularity contest by nixing Mayor Morrissey's plan to reduce fire crews from four to three men on every truck.

Well, that's what the news will report, but it all could change in a week after aldermen are done licking their bellies for the TV cameras.

It's great news for the handful of people who'll actually need a fire extinguished this year, but the other 80 percent of the department's calls are for ambulance service.

***"If you vote Yes right now, we'll include a special bonus: Dial 9-1-1 for an ambulance and we'll also send a fully-loaded, shiny, red firetruck - whether you need it or not! (Fire truck mandatory. You will be billed.)"***

How can the city afford to keep four fire fighters on every engine? It can't. Instead, the taxpayers will be expected to pay for it every time an ambulance driver farts.

Folks, these aldermen are essentially saying, "If the 'people' insist on four-per-truck, then we'll reach so deep into their pockets for ambulance calls that they'll actually think twice about wanting to live before dialing."

This careless move by councilmen appeases those who fear death will rape them in the night if only three firemen bounce off a firetruck when some weekend drunkard sets his picnic table on fire during the local NAMBLA chapter's solstice BBQ.

For the record, I received an invitation to the BBQ, but declined. As an excuse, I spun some web of deceit involving a prior commitment in the form of a speaking engagement at a small New England private college, which would demand a rigorous regimen of heterosexual coitus with virgins of legal age.

Anyway, according to Finance Department figures, under the aldermanic plan, a bare-bones ambulance call would start ticking at $775. Right now, it's $375.

Given the economy we're faced with - and remember, Rockford's unemployment and poverty levels are especially high - collecting these bills is a pipe dream at best. As for what's in the pipe aldermen are passing, I'd guess it's some combination of crack, heroin, meth and Sani-Flush, but I can't be sure until I hear back from the lab.

As an educated man of modest income, I know that the difference between a $775 bill and a $375 bill is that the $375 bill might actually get paid. This is not Naperville, even if we have a river-walk paved with the gold teeth of hard-working people who can't afford an emergency right now.

Then what is the city gonna do? They'll waste tax dollars sicking Patrick Hayes' sweaty minions (from what I understand, lawyers make a good living) on these unfortunates for money they simply don't have.

These aren't the lifelong leeches-on-the-system the more heartless among us prefer to imagine. These are good people having a bad time, and I've been there, boy.

Simply put, aldermen are just trying to look like heroes until after they're re-elected. By the time their solution turns out to be a new problem for the general fund, we'll already be stuck with them all over again.

I'm expecting Larry to come out swinging against this proposal. I think his position, more or less, will be: "Aldermen want to charge you twice as much when you need the city most. By the way, four firemen per truck is still pretty wasteful."

I think he's got a good chance of building enough support in the next week to seriously challenge this not-so-well-thought-out plan when it comes up for a vote. Then, somehow, it'll be more appropriate to blame the mayor for reduced manning. The aldermen can't lose, unless they open their mouths.

I still think there's a good chance my earlier prediction about the outcome of this is on the mark. A lot can happen between now and the next City Council meeting, and Larry tends to be able to whip up the votes for what he wants. He's a clear favorite, and I still say the status quo won't want to burn any bridges when it gets down to it.

When all is said and done, I still say the fire crews will be cut to three. After today, the deck is stacked against my prediction of the fire fighter union endorsing Morrissey, but they also have to recognize the likelihood of his re-election. It's a good wager, and I'm all in. I think they know their endorsement isn't enough to give Doug Block an edge. For now, I stand by my prediction.

If I'm wrong, send me an ambulance bill.


  1. So here's the deal,though...the ALDERMEN(I agree,they all want to stay on the gravy train)received the amb. fee schedule in a memorandum from Sammul the Number-Twister....you bet they were happy to go along,but in my opinion,this was a blink on Larry's part in the stare-down....
    Also on that memo...NOW the deficit projection is only $4.8mill.....Dang,that Sammul guy does wonders,huh?

  2. Say,Raoul, though I agree with your characterization of the Kouncil Klowns,I believe in the stare-down over minimum staffing, the administration blinked first. The aldermen simply jumped at a memo from Number Guru Sammuls...HE(Larry) came up with the fee schedule....oh,and the $8.9mill deficit is now $4.8 ?/!@#$%$#@