What's Carl DeMaio got against fire protection?

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

The city faced a tough public safety decision last summer: whether to continue with seventeen months of brownouts that left as many as eight fire engines idle every day. The limited resources had seen response times slip across San Diego, and ultimately, the council decided to restore the fire protection including the additional costs in overtime pay to compensate for staff reductions.

Nevertheless, Carl DeMaio blasted firefighters last week for working overtime to restore and maintain protection levels. Firefighters face a sticky dilemma in DeMaio's complaint. Since budget cuts supported and often pushed by DeMaio have led to staff reductions of 10%, preventing brownouts require working overtime. The head of the firefighters union explained it pretty clearly:

“We have cut our workforce down more than 10 percent, but we still need to have constant staffing,” De Clercq said. “We have to have people on these trucks to respond when people need our help.”
He's declared that government employees like police and firefighters are his real opponents, and his CPR initiative would remove any guaranteed retirement for future firefighters, but it isn't as though DeMaio's attitude toward firefighters is new.
 
On his way into office, he blasted a council move to keep fire departments open, then turned around and cast the lone vote against a budget compromise to keep fire departments open. After a spike in retirements led to a funding shortfall, DeMaio was once again the lone vote opposing emergency appropriations to plug the hole in the fire department's budget.
 
DeMaio knows the potential risks of public safety cuts as well as anyone. After all, the delay from brownouts were widely blamed for the tragic death of a toddler in DeMaio's district. But when the council voted last year to end the 17 months of brownouts, DeMaio was the lone vote in opposition. Even after he spent enough money just on mail in his first year in office (sending 45 times more than the rest of the council combined) to pay for a new firefighter recruit.
 
Firefighters are working extra hours to ensure that San Diegans are always protected. For some reason, that's enough of a problem for Carl DeMaio to go on the attack.