Jim Arnold’s View of City Council 4-6-09 Part 1

Ya Shoudda been there: Part 1.

If you missed City Council in April, you missed quite a show.

It started out nice enough with an award ceremony to honor firefighters who had utilized a thermal imaging device to locate and rescue a victim from a burning building. The life saving fire fighters received a standing ovation from the thankful crowd. There was also the perfunctory abatement request for an in progress Habitat for Humanity home. It is always heartwarming to see people getting a chance at home ownership.

It was during the new resolutions that the meeting took an interesting turn. From that point on I sat riveted to my seat as I witnessed the proceedings, and would have gladly forked over $10.00 for a ticket. The only problem is I would have preferred to be watching a drama about Peyton Place or any place but the city I call home.

Councilman Brad Polk had introduced an emergency resolution to allow the city to borrow the 160,000 needed to purchase a used ladder truck from the Pike Fire Department to replace the ladder truck that recently failed inspections due to rungs that were rusting from the inside out. Interim Fire Chief James Clevenger stepped to the podium to explain that we were one flat tire or oil change from having only one functioning ladder truck and that the city needed to secure one ASAP to ensure that firefighters would have two points of egress for fires on taller structures. City Controller Mary Ann Kratovil was also on hand to state that she had secured approval for a favorable loan for the truck, and that the $3,000 per month payments could be made with the money saved by not filling the assistant fire chief position.

At this point councilman Sam Marshall reminded Mary Ann of our current budget shortfall and the admonitions that the city might need to lay of firefighters due that same shortfall. How could we obligate 3,000 per month for a ladder truck when there is talk of laying off fire fighters due to our budget shortfall he asked? I agreed with Sam’s comments on our budget shortfall, but was bemused to see that he seemed to get a just a little bit too much pleasure out of reminding the Controller (and by default the mayor) of our financial straits.

Mary Jo Barton displayed her usual histrionics, gloating, grinning and nodding her head during the ordeal which is a sure sign that something is afoot. I felt sympathy for Interim chief Clevenger who was sincere in his effort to keep the men in his charge safe as I believed he was a pawn in an intricate game of Chess that was playing out for those in attendance. I also felt sorry for Mary Ann as I don’t think that monthly abuse at the hands of the city council is included in her job description.

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