After my guest column ran in the Dallas Morning News, I was surprised when I checked my inbox and found several emails from readers. Some were supportive, some were informative and some were, well, mean.
I understand opinions.
I understand dissention.
I understand a free exchange of ideas.
I do not understand mean.
Just like I don’t understand how we got to the point where the top priority for city leaders is not public safety but rather improving Dallas’ sliding negative credit and pushing the mayor’s transformational projects.
I do not understand why the city of Dallas refuses to pursue any revenue stream that will shore up the Dallas Police and Fire Pension Fund. Raise taxes? No. Allocate DART funds? No. Secure Pension Bonds? No. Divert money from the mayor’s multi-million dollar transformational projects? No.
These naysayers and pension mess has started to take a toll on public safety.
Earlier this month, the fire department administered an entrance exam for prospective firefighters and paramedics. Usually more than 1,000 candidates show up for testing. This time only 398 people took the test.
According to the city and news reports, 201 police officers have left since October 1, and that number is expected to double before the fiscal year is out. That will be the most officers to leave in decades, and the first time in nine years that the police force has dropped below 3,100 officers. In 2011, there were 3,690.
Meanwhile, the number of citizens and calls for help continue to grow. Officers have reported holding low priority calls for seven hours because the police department is short staffed, and the understaffed emergency call center with its recent technology and staffing snafus has placed hundreds of emergency callers on hold.
I do not understand why any of this is OK.
First responders are leaving and the no one is coming because of this mess. Why would you work for a city that doesn't pay a fair wage, breaks all their promises, and threatens your retirement?
This is a 5-alarm public safety crisis.
What good are all the parks, the businesses, the bridges, or the neighborhoods if you do not have your first responders there to ensure your safety so you can walk through your parks, drive across those bridges and live in your neighborhoods?
Why would the city of Dallas continue down this path leaving us to wonder just how many police and firefighters will be left to answer the call?
I will never understand why we even have to ask that question.
#backthepension #PoundOfFlesh #savethepension