Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Unaswered questions

I have a lot of them, so I thought I'd start a list.

On the City of Toledo/Village of Ottawa Hills fire department merger:

* How can Ottawa Hills save money AND Toledo save money when transferring the responsibilities of staff and operations from one to other? Common sense says that both cannot be true as the costs are not actually being reduced. It may be true that Ottawa Hills will save money if they shut down one of their stations, but if they can pay Toledo less than it costs them to run the department, Toledo cannot assume those costs and save money since we already know that the amount of reimbursement is less than the full expense.

* Ottawa Hills will pay a set fee for 20 years. But in that 20 years, the costs of salaries for the individuals will rise (this is government employment after all). Also, there will be increased maintenance costs for equipment and facilities as they age and, eventually, a need for replacements. Other factors, such as inflation, will also raise the costs. Why would Toledo accept a set fee for 20 years in an amount less than what it's currently costing, knowing that the costs will increase in that time? What provisions are we making for evaluation of the costs?

* The union has said it will file a grievance as the authorized strength of the Toledo Fire Department is currently at 103 and this merger take the staffing above that number. What are the costs of fighting this grievance and what are the potential costs to the city if we lose?

On the shooting in Arizona:

* I understand why so much attention is - rightly - focused on Representative Gabrielle Giffords. We also know that a federal judge and a 9-year-old girl were killed. But why aren't the names of the others who were killed mentioned more prominently - at least, as prominently as the ridiculous claim by idiots that Sarah Palin, tea parties and conservatives are to blame? In case you've missed it, here are their names:
John Kroll (63) - a Federal Court Judge

Gabe Zimmerman (30) - one of Congresswoman Giffords' aides

Christina Taylor-Green (9) - an elementary school student and granddaughter of Major League Baseball executive Dallas Green

Dorwin Stoddard (76) - a pastor at Mount Avenue Church of Christ. Stoddard's wife Mavy was wounded in the leg, but is expected to recover.

Phyllis Scheck (79)

Dorthy Murray (76)

On the decision by Toledo City Council to begin discussions with Lucas County for garbage service:

* If the city is willing to allow Lucas County to take over the task, why didn't we just privatize the service years ago? Why did we purchase all new equipment (automated trucks and garbage cans for everyone) if we're just going to turn over the department to someone else?

* In the past, the reason for not privatizing was the union contract with the Teamsters which requires Toledo to keep all the workers and, if we don't, to still pay their PERS contributions (which include the city portion AND the employee portion). If the city's contractual obligations prevented us from making any changes to the department in the past, won't it still prevent changes today? And, if not, what makes the difference in terms of the union contract? (Having read the contract, I don't see any - but then, I use common sense.)

* Lucas County thinks that other jurisdictions may want to join their new service which will result in greater participation and, thus, lower costs. But what other jurisdiction in Lucas County would want to turn their current service over to the county? All of them already have a process by which they handle their garbage and the people in those jurisdictions seem rather happy with their options. Basing a decision on the 'hope' that other jurisdictions will help give us a quantity of scale seems, well...foolish.

* What members of council and which mayor were stupid enough to agree to a union contract that requires the city to continue to pay into the PERS system for any employee of the garbage department whose job is transferred???? That's insanity and certainly NOT in the best interests of the citizens of Toledo.

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