Citizen About Town
Citizen About Town
By Nancy C. Arcuri, Editor and Publisher
We are again fighting to keep our Monterey Park hometown fire department.
In 1999 85% of the residents voted to approved Measure J that restricted our City Council from giving our fire and police departments to Los Angeles County without voter approval.
This measure required that the city retain the same number of personnel on staff for each shift or better, the same or better equipment and the same four minutes or less response time. An Ad Hoc Committee must review the county study and a third party review of the issue before they recommend a course of action to the council.
We currently are part of the Verdugo Fire District with mutual aid from other local cities and the Los Angeles County Fire Service.
Currently the local newspapers are filled with stories on the slow response times from Los Angeles County fire service of 9 minutes to answer the first alarm of a fire on a large construction site in Carson. Los Angeles City fire department lying about their response times to medical emergencies and their department heads lying about their response times to their City Council who reduced staff and closed stations based on bogus information. Now the Los Angeles County Sheriff air unit bosses are accused of deliberating delaying response time to calls for emergency air support to protect their overtime.
Why do we have to do battle again to keep our hometown fire department?
We have Councilmember Betty Tom Chu who strongly favors letting our firefighters go to the county. She doesn’t seem to care if the residents don’t want to lose their hometown fire department. She has political promises to keep to the firefighters since they supported her run for office.
We also have the greedy and powerful Los Angeles County Firefighters Union who has already added our firefighters union to their ranks.
They are ready and willing to spend thousands of dollars of their monthly dues and man-hours on a campaign to try to force their political will on the residents.
In 2010 Betty Tom Chu told a lie to Interim City Manager Don McIntyre that the city would accept less firefighting staff than required by our law. So he requested the L A County Fire Service do another study to take over our fire department.
Betty Tom Chu does not support 85% of the residents who approved Measure J in 1999.
Councilmember Teresa Real Sebastian stated that the young people did not vote on the issue so they should have another election to give them a chance to vote on it. Her senior supporters do not agree with her on this issue. They want to keep our hometown fire department with our paramedic ambulance service and four-minutes or less response time.
Members of the Concerned Citizens of Monterey Park asked if the Council received a legal opinion on Measure J in early March. Councilmember Mitch Ing asked the city manager and city attorney for a legal opinion on Measure J. It may stop the Ad Hoc Committee in its tracks. The county fire study was base on Betty Tom Chu’s lie.
At the March 21 meeting our only resident firefighter Rick Burroughs spoke about former Councilmember Marie Purvis, his neighbor. Mrs. Purvis along with former Councilmembers Francisco Alonso, Judy Chu and Rita Valenzuela worked with the residents to win Measure J.
Mr. Burroughs has been on our payroll since 1979 so he is in favor of going county. He spoke about all of the goodies that the county can provide us. With mutual aid we still have use of their staff and equipment.
In 2009 Mr. Burroughs’s total income was $171,857 that included $45,432 in overtime.
Jimmy Gin also spoke in favor of the Ad Hoc Committee going forward. His son Jonathan is one of our firefighters. He has been on our payroll since 2003. In 2009 his total income was $113,175 that included $25,537 in overtime.
In 2009 our firefighters received $1,193,495 in overtime.
A copy of the 2009 Firefighters Compensation with overtime is included in this issue for your review.
This City Council can reduce this outrageous overtime by mothballing one fire truck or have a rolling brownout of one station per month or reduce our firefighting staff. We currently have 51 firefighters on our payroll.
The county has stated they only need 12 personnel per shift. We currently have 17 personnel per shift so we can safely layoff 15 firefighters based on the county fire service.
We can reduce our fire department expenses in house. We can save our city money and still keep our hometown fire department.
We residents are still waiting on the legal opinion of Measure J that was not available at the April 4 meeting.
Two residents from Pomona spoke out against going county. Their City Council sold them out without any input from the taxpaying voters. They signed a ten-year contract with Los Angeles County and their city is trapped in a nightmare that is never ending. Every year their city pays more and more money for their fire service.
Now the Los Angeles County Fire Service campaigns for the majority of their Councilmembers. The fire union has a strangle hold on their local government.
The majority of Pomona’s budget pays the salaries of their firefighters. Other departments have been cut to the bone.
They did vote in a new law that prevents their council from giving their police department to the county. They voted to keep their hometown police department when their council wanted to give it away to Los Angeles County.
Did you know that all of the firefighters that work for a city that is given to the county fire service are absorbed into their large staff with an large increase in they monthly pay?
The residents want to know all about these backroom discussions at City Hall between City Manager Paul Talbot, Betty Tom Chu and several of our firefighters. They want to close down and outsource some of our departments that include Engineering, Building Maintenance, Park Maintenance and the Children’s Day Care.
They have also discussed selling several of our parks to developers for new homes.
We have already voted to Save Our Parks from developers but our votes don’t seem to make a difference to Betty Tom Chu or the firefighters.
If Monterey Park loses hometown control of our fire department to the money, greed and power of the firefighters union and Betty Tom Chu then we will lose our city departments and our parks too.
The taxpaying voters may not have a voice in their plans to destroy our Monterey Park.
Our new city motto will be “Failed the Future”.
Local elected officials, city managers and city attorneys must be closely watched as they can destroy your city and city budget in favor of special interest groups.
You may not be able to change the policies in Washington, DC, your state or county but you can make a difference in your local government.
Keep your eyes and ears opened and tuned into your local government. You maybe be the one person who can make a difference.
Be sure to study all of the candidates and issues before an election.
Please vote in all of the elections as your vote does make a difference in the future of our United States.