Amid a week of whirlwind of intrigue and strategizing at City Hall, 10 words cut through the chaos: “You didn’t do your job, and a kid is dead.”
They came from the mouths of a town council president whose neighborhood is among those most affected by fire department cutbacks that have been linked to the death of a two-year-old boy last week.
A City Council committee listened yesterday as residents complained about “brownouts” — idled fire engines. But the mayor’s office rebuffed two councilmembers and said the city won’t dip into reserve funds to restore the fire services.
“Obviously, the incident with the child is very unfortunate,” a mayor’s official said. But “even without the brownouts, we have unfortunate incidents that occur.”
That was that, at least for now. The council has other things to think about: it’s scrambling like mad to figure out how to still put a sales-tax-hike measure on the November ballot. Time is running out — the deadline is Aug. 6 — and the city attorney says councilmembers need to get cracking pronto, as in this week and maybe this weekend too. No way, said a council president spokeswoman, so it looks like the crunch may start next week.
Part of the problem is that one proposal on the table is more than a little complicated and may be legally dicey. It would require the city to reform the way it pays employees, among other things, or else the tax hike would expire in two years.