Today is Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent. At their meeting last night the Santa Ana City Council decided what the city would have to give up for Lent. On a 6-0 vote, with Council member Michele Martinez recusing herself because she took contributions from PAC’s representing Santa Ana fire fighters, the City Council turned to ashes the 128-year history of Santa Ana’s independent Fire Department, outsourcing it to the Orange County Fire Authority.
After April 20, 2012, the only remnants of the Santa Ana Fire Department left will be the emblems on their fire trucks, which the city managed to negotiate to continue with the Santa Ana moniker. I guess that’s the least the city leaders could do given the fact that they are the ones who drove the fire trucks into the proverbial ditch through either financial mismanagement, ignorance, or both.
Usually, when a ship runs aground, the captain and his officers are held responsible. In the case of Santa Ana, that captain is Mayor Miguel Pulido, and the officers are the members of the City Council. But that level of accountability has yet to land on the head of Mayor Pulido or any of the officers responsible for steering the cruise ship Santa Ana into troubled waters and on to a jagged reef.
The move to the Orange County Fire Authority is expected to cut $10.5 million from the $30 million budget deficit the city is facing. Much of the savings generated by the outsourcing of fire services come from reductions in the staffing levels from a minimum of 63 firefighters on duty to 48. Read more about the vote from Adam Elmahrek of Voice of OC here.
The city council recently approved contract reductions for general employees and police officers to address the deficit. But much of the reduction in costs negotiated with police are short term, kicking millions of dollars in costs down the road to be paid in less than a year and a half. That bill will come due, and it appears city leaders are hoping that the economy picks up between now and then to deliver the revenue needed to pay the outstanding bills.
I ‘ve been going through old mailers from the Santa Ana Firemen’s Benevolent Association sent out during the last election. As you can see, they spent a bit of money pushing for Miguel Pulido and his slate during the last election, as they have done for years.