Public Speaking

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As most know already, I intend to speak tonight during the public comments.  I’ve managed to get my comments down to 5 minutes, although I’m sure I could fill quite a few more.  I look forward to seeing you all there tonight.  As a preview, I’m posting here the comments that i’ll be making tonight.  If any of the Trustees would like a copy of the charts I’m using to support my statements, I’ll even have a copy for each of them, they only need ask for it.  (Those charts will be posted here by tomorrow morning as well for all the residents to see.)

Now, public speaking does make me a little nervous, so please bear with me if i fumble a little bit.  I hope to see a lot of people there to show our trustees, not that we are all agree with each other, but that we as residents deserve to be heard, to be told of changes, and to be represented properly.

So, here you go, the text of tonight’s comments:

I come before you tonight to comment on the erosion of our Public Safety Services to a point not seen since 1999.  Every day the residents count on the men and women who provide the public safety services to answer their calls for help.  Over the past 4 years, the capabilities of the Public Works department, the patrol officers staffing levels during the busiest shift in the afternoons and now the Fire Department’s response ability have all been reduced.  No matter what “spin” the Village would like to try and place on it, cuts to these services effect the safety and security of the village.  In the meantime, our taxes and our water bills continue to rise.  The Trustees float the idea that the recession and overtime use are to blame for the need to eliminate services, but looking at the budget documents, these catchy talking points are shown to be excuses not based in fact.  In a 2011 article in the courier, the Village stated that it was down to 177 employees from 209 in 2008.  That’s roughly 3 million in cuts, and yet our revenue and budgets now are nearly identical to what they were then.  Where is that extra money?  During the same time that the public safety departments were being reduced, the village added 2 new positions to the tune of 235000/yr, gave the Assistant Village Manager a 21% raise, the Village Manager a 10% raise, the Assistant to the Village Manager a 15% raise, the HR Director an 11% raise, and other Administration employees between 5-7% raises.  You have cut our public safety departments to spend on Village Hall and not been transparent about it.  While there was a deficit in 2009 during the recession, our actual numbers, supported by the increased taxes, bills and fees have led to a rather stable income according to the posted budget documents.

What hasn’t been stable is the way the village has made Assumptions about revenue and expenditures.  Out of the 5 years of actual numbers posted, the village has managed to accurately predict revenues only 10% of the time and when I talk about inaccuracies – I’m talking about 10s and 100s of thousands of dollars – a failing performance in my view.  It’s precisely because of the 90% inaccuracy rate that the village always believes it’s in financial crisis and in need to cut.  If the Village had more accurately projected in the first place it would have been able to set the budget levels better and the yearly cycle of crisis cutting could be avoided.

The Mission statement of our Village clearly defines the priorities in which this board needs to utilize its revenue.  First in the Mission statement is public health and safety.  That means the Police, Fire and Public Works.  Next, you call for Balanced Growth, and yet, and yet the number of vacant properties and store fronts continue to grow.  Finally you call for effective financial management, but being wrong 90% of the time with our revenue and budgets could hardly be considered effective. 

Our budget needs to reflect the mission statement’s priorities.    5 officers minimum on Third Watch aren’t enough.  This should be at least 8 to handle the calls, backup other officers and reduce the response times.  The fire department needs to have 5 in each station, to be able to staff 6 vehicles 24 hours a day, not 4.  The board’s new staffing model means that greater than 50% of all ambulance requests on the east side and west side of the village– 1 in 2 have a response time greater than 4 minutes, and brain death starts occurring after 4 minutes without oxygen.  It’s dangerous and irresponsible.  And while the East and West Side stations are well into the danger zone, putting 5 at station 1 has caused a measurable improvement, showing that 5 in a station demonstrates an increase in public safety.   The numbers and data simply don’t support that the TEST of the new staffing model on the public was viable.

The fact is that at a time when we are reducing Essential Public Safety Services, allocating funds to new administrative positions, not ensuring an accuracy rate of the financial planning that is well above 10%, failing to allocate the funds based upon the mission of the Village and blaming that on whatever talking point may be popular is not only irresponsible, it’s a violation of the trust of your constituents.  The trustees need to understand that we voted to put them there – we gave them our trust and confidence.   Ignoring what your residents have to say won’t make the problem go away.  While you may not agree with my position or my ideas, it is none-the-less your responsibility to represent me and my position, as well as every other resident and business in our village while sitting as a Trustee on the board.  

Thank you.

In case you aren’t able to make tonight’s meeting, remember that you can always watch the board meeting live from your computer at the Village Website.

Comments

comments

4 thoughts on “Public Speaking

  1. I truly believe that I’m an idealist by nature. I believe in the goodness of people, in the honesty of people, and even though it’s somewhat naive, I still am let down when I’m disappointed by someone that shows me otherwise. The same can be said for our trustees. After leaving with my family, whom came to support me in my public comments, I continued to watch the board meeting from home. I think it’s safe to say that the Village Trustees know about this site, and have full access to all the public documents that everyone else does. What baffles me is their indignation to my comments. Calling something misinformation when the facts and data to support it are posted for all to see doesn’t exactly ring true in the minds of most people. The idealist in me thinks they should have been concerned .. asked themselves, what if – by some small chance, this guy’s right or even close to right – what does that mean about my decisions, or my unwavering trust in the upper most management. Is it possible that I could be completely wrong – sure, absolutely! But if others come to the same numbers or conclusions that I have (which they double check my facts – it’s all right there to see) and we’re all wrong, well then, the Village has a serious transparency problem anyway. It was apparently too much to hope that the trustees would reserve their comments altogether until they had a chance to look into the matter for themselves – maybe even, I don’t know – called me to ask about my information. Of course, i’m under no illusion that they would, the trustees that I originally wrote to with my concerns and asked to call me back (whom i provided my phone number to) never did, why would they do it now? More to the point – if I’m dead on with my conclusions, then the Trustee have a serious issue with their own position on the board and the comments they made tonight, and should consider resigning. Because nothing they say from this point forward will be believed by the public they serve.

    Which leads into the even bigger disappointment. The Trustee’s indignation aside, their stubborn commitment to what they’ve been told and blind following make me ask an even more important question: Is this something that we should hold to our ideals and believe that they truly don’t know all the facts, OR, is it that they wanted to reduce public safety services all along, and the upper level management they’ve put in there they did so with the intention of being able to say they didn’t know?

    Some of my anonymous information coming out of wheeling seems to suggest that Manager Rooney was simply the fall guy there too – knowing all along that if the cuts ever were exposed to be unnecessary or the spending of the board ever called into question, that they board could claim ignorance and had someone to pin it on. More and more I find myself asking if a Military Veteran could truly be behind tearing down services for the people – or if he’s just following his orders from the civilian command. An interesting question, and one, sadly, that I doubt will ever be answered – unless the Wheeling FOIA is able to shed any light on the subject (Or the Manager does it before then).

  2. I have also commented on Trustee Rehberg’s site: http://trusteerehberg.com/2013/11/15/new-labor-agreement/comment-page-1/#comment-39
    In case he decided not to approve my replies to his post there, I am going to share them here so that everyone can judge for themselves. (If he does approve the comments, then i’ll remove this from my site and simply reference his ….

    Sir, the Fire department doesn’t exist on an island, you are right, surely you can see that reducing our public safety services has a negative impact to our neighbors who must pick up the slack on a nearly daily basis. The labor dispute you refer to isn’t really a dispute and this is absolutely NOT about that in any way shape or form, despite what you’ve been led to believe. There is an actual threat – the numbers and data provided by the village actually show that. You are welcome to contact me or sit down for a cup of coffee any time and I’d be happy to show you what the FOIA information ACTUALLY says. Of course, I have no illusions that one of the trustees would actually call me or want to talk about my concerns. I’m sure you wouldn’t vote to do anything that would jeopardize your family, but I stand and speak because I know the threat to mine and yours. The deputy chief doesn’t say in an email that getting 4 more people with the safer grant would “bring us to a closer staffing level where we should be.” because the fire department is properly staffed. The battalion chiefs aren’t talking in emails about “the drastically different” response guidelines with quadcom and “adding a permanent change of quarters companies due to potential manning problems with the new schedule”, “that any fire we get will deplete our resources quicker than they do now”, and having the Deputy Chief agree with them.

    I’m not saying that anyone is intentionally not telling the truth about where the state of our public safety services are. I’m saying that the people the trustees have complete confidence in have no experience or training in the things that they are talking about when it comes to the fire department, and those that do aren’t talking (I wonder why). Those incidents referenced tonight – nobody bothered to mention that every single vehicle in the entire quadcom area was in carpentersville the day of the sedgewick fire, assigned to carpentersville calls, and that the next closest available resource was elgin, huntley or barrington, maybe algonquin IF they’d send us another vehicle. And that is what I was talking about tonight with transparency, when you only get 1/2 the story, you only get half the picture. The shift commander was moving vehicles everywhere just to get it handled – and that wouldn’t have been the case prior to the 19th. To listen to them on the radio was a lesson in disaster management that shouldn’t have needed to be a disaster.

    When it takes an officer 4:38 seconds to get to my house when someone is trying to break in – there is a problem, and it shouldn’t be ignored PERIOD. Glassing over the details is a politician’s trick and the public is sick and tired of it. And the only solution is to restore the proper staff levels to the police department. This isn’t rocket science.

    Sharing resources amongst towns should be mutually beneficial – but that isn’t possible when the largest provider has the least amount of staff and resources per capita, the other towns end up supporting the larger one, and cause a neglect of their own constituents. Your constituents will only believe what you say up until the point that it can be proven by the numbers, and frankly, the numbers from the village are what I used to draft my public comments tonight.

  3. Again My question has gone unanswered, Who said that 5 Firefighters must be in a station at one time? These budget calculations you have who’s doing the math?

  4. Sir, this is the first question you’ve asked so let’s make sure it doesn’t go unanswered (But, let’s be clear, The answers could have been found in previous posts, namely “Let’s Look at that Budget” and ” Press Release Blues”): Former Fire Chief Schuldt campaigned for that with the board under former Manager Andersen, and the board at the time as a result had approved adding a fifth to station 2, which is now down to 3. Deputy Chief Skillman, in those emails I posted acknowledged that getting 4 more through the federal SAFER grant would bring us CLOSER to where we should be, and the fire department staff (both full time and part time) has advocated 15 daily duty spots for years along with the Fire Chiefs. Btw, the extra spots would be part time spots, there is no illusion that our village could fund 15 full time firefighters per day. Also, I should add that 15 daily duty spots would be a maximum amount – with the minimum being 12, allowing for full time members to be off duty without being replaced – which virtually eliminates the need for over time, except in the case of special training and team deployments, which is to be expected with the Fire Department AND the Police Department.

    The budget calculations were done by me by plugging the numbers from the budget categories into excel and then letting excel do the math. Also, the numbers are the actual line item numbers, not the totals. Funny how the math doesn’t add up in the line items to the totals in several places throughout the 7 posted budget years, which is why i chose to use the line item numbers instead of the totals. If you come to a different conclusion, please share. In case you didn’t read the appropriate post I cited above .. I stated very clearly: (DISCLAIMER – I am not a financial guy, an auditor or anyone else who has real experience with looking at or deciphering budgets. I am an ordinary (but inquisitive) citizen just like 99.5% of my fellow residents in the Village of Carpentersville, and my views and opinion are just that.)

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