Tuesday, August 4, 2009

And another, and another and another


"Officer down!" is perhaps the most chilling dispatch fellow officers can hear crackling over their radio or cell phone. In Amherst, the town force is now down another three officers as a Federal grant failed to materialize that would have paid salaries and benefits for three officers over three years.

Now this is not three additional officers to our beleaguered force; it would simply have maintained three officers in a roster already downsized by two last year.

Town Meeting approved a Public Safety budget with funding for the three officers contingent on the grant. This way Town Meeting washed their hands of the cuts and can now point the finger at the Feds.

Good game bureaucrats big-and-small seem to excel at: cover your ass, find somebody else to blame.

28 comments:

Anonymous said...

A lot of money was approved in the Fed Stimulus package to fund police in local communities. Is this grant the same program or a different one?

LarryK4 said...

I think this program has been around for a while (but as Bill O would say "I could be wrong".)

The Fed Stimulus thing is pretty nascent.

Rick said...

This is part of what happens when an override fails. ;-)

Anonymous said...

Slam them when they want an override and slam then when it fails. Seems inconsistant to me.

LarryK4 said...

This makes you smile Rick??? But what happens when you or a loved one desperately need a cop and they are understaffed and all tied up babysitting college kids?

Nitwit Anon 3:38 PM

The three cops we just lost were not part of an Override attempt. Try to pay attention.

Rick said...

This is a smile :-) this is a wink ;-) ..."pay attention"

I was not smiling at the fewer cops – of course that’s bad. I was winking at you because you fought the ’07 override.

Will you be against the '10 override? ;-)

Seriously though, I am on your side about small government being a good thing – it’s just a matter of figuring out whether or not there is fat to cut. The ’07 override lost because people thought there was still fat to cut.

But it seems to me we are more or less out of fat when elementary schools start closing and cops keep getting cut.

What do you think?

Rick said...

PS: Related to “fat” - I know there has been a big debate about “A-Rods’ salary. On the face of it I thought that was a really bad move. On the other hand, Jack Welch got paid a lot too and look what he did with GE. OK not the best analogy but you get the idea. I am more interested in the performance than I am in the pay. So will this guy perform?

I spent 2 hours with him yesterday on some different things. This guy is good. Night and day from Hochman. I think we are going to see some major stuff from this guy.

LarryK4 said...

Well Rick, since you were the head cheerleader for the failed 'Amherst Plan' Override attempt two years ago and since A-Rod has already called for an Override (with only a month on the job) I would kind of expect you to be impressed.

Anonymous said...

FAT? Take a ride through the DPW parking lot, So. Pleasant St., and count the automobiles (unless they're at the employees' homes) with blue plates. Not trucks, plows, backhoes, but automobiles. Remember Stan Ziomek and his ONE car?

And, how about the Parking Office needing a car. Aren't the meters within walking distance from the Police Station? Plus walking would be healthy for the meter "maids".

Then of course, Inspection Services in the Town Hall. There was much more building when Echo Hill, Orchard Valley, Puffton Village, Colonial Village, etc. occurred. Handled by one man, Chet Penza.

Talk about the Town Manager needing a 6 figure Financial Officer when Al Torrey handled it with a secretary.

And, and the School Department with highly paid Principals directing pickup traffic and checking staff sick days, etc. Ever check out the School Department's central office administrative salaries, not just the Super's?

Don't forget the golf course,
ESL coordinator at the library, and
human rights director. And of course we have a beautiful branch library in South Amherst, BUT no branch fire station. Guess Amherstites can read while their house burns.

And then after one month on the job, A-Rod talks about an override.
Doesn't even own property in Amherst and wants property owners to pay more while he collects his 15K to fly back and forth to Florida. Commitment to the community you serve. Right!

Overrides fail when the tax payer observes the aforelisted WASTE.

Rick said...

"Will you be against the '10 override?"

So I guess the answer is "no".

Rick said...

Uh, make that a "yes"?

LarryK4 said...

Yeah, second one is the charm.

And I can only hope the Amherst Center OverRiders make the same monumental mistake they made two years ago and allow you to be their spokesperson.

Anonymous said...

To hell with the federal money anyway. We need to take care of our own, and not depend on Uncle Sam. How about we form some type of militia, or night watch of private citizens instead of bitchin on the inter-tubes? Larry, you could train us all in martial arts!

Tom G said...

"How about we form some type of militia, or night watch of private citizens instead of bitchin on the inter-tubes? Larry, you could train us all in martial arts!"

Sure, you lead the way. We can call it the tea bag brigade. You take Umass. I'll guard Hastings.

Rick said...

You give me too much credit – I was not the "spokesperson" – a lot of people were "speaking". At any rate, you were surprised at how close the vote was in ’07 – just 269 votes out of 5,000. That’s not bad considering how lukewarm the Select Board was about it.

Anonymous said...

We only need a full force a couple of times a year. The rest of the year the police are pulling people over for burnt out license plate lights. Look at the police log.

LarryK4 said...

Yes Rick, I was surprised. Your side did everything wrong and our side did everything right (ordering lawn signs for instance) and we still only one by a small percentage.

But the economy has tanked in the past two years. Workers (except of course the teachers) are not getting cost of living increases, folks are getting laid off and the state just increased the sales tax.

So as President Bush would say "bring it on."

Anonymous said...

I was opposed to the override last time. But, I am with Larry on this one - if you support public safety, support the override.

Anonymous said...

Yes, LK is 100 % correct. I agree that the only way to save public safety is to support an override. Thanks, LK, for helping to make the case.
Unless somebody knows how to fund public safety without money, the override is clearly the only solution. (assuming that everybody has finally moved on from Cherry Hill and the sup's salary).

LarryK4 said...

And if you remember, the Town Mangler tried to scare folks by cutting firefighters (to save $80,000) hired from a Federal Grant when the requirements of that contract would have forced the town to repay the Feds three times the amount "saved."

If they are smart they will put those three cops on the Override (Hell, it worked two years ago as the retiring Fire Chief came out in support)

But you will not see it as a menu Override either.

Anonymous said...

Why not just cut Leisure Services completely and we can get those three police officers back, and give more back to the schools?

LarryK4 said...

Yeah, it is called "learning to prioritize"--something individual households and small businesses do everyday.

Anonymous said...

Wait a minute, we're not down three officers. We didn't get the grant so we're not PLUS three officers.

LarryK4 said...

No, we are down three officers.

Rick said...

"The Police budget increases by 0.3%. This budget reduces staffing by three officer positions for a savings of $121,145 from taxation. The Town is applying for a federal grant that could allow us to restore the three positions if successful; however, if the
grant is not received, the authorized strength will be reduced by three positions.”

Source: http://www.amherstma.gov/DocumentView.aspx?DID=2505

Anonymous said...

"if you support public safety, support the override"

Wow, that's the logic that sold us stupid voters on WMDs. Next you'll be asking for birth certificates.

Anonymous said...

Leisure Services just sent around applications to many households inviting them to sign up for their new 75% reduced fee opportunity. I wonder how many police officers that whole thing is going to cost.

Anonymous said...

You know, if you didn't declare war on the college students, you wouldn't (a) need three more cops and (b) be worrying about vacant storefronts downtown.

Amherst is so unfriendly to college students that we don't spend time here, which means we also don't spend our money here either.

You have finally gotten what you asked for...