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Moline drops the axe on a dozen brothers. One lump or two?

Refusing to consider what Ronald Reagan called “revenue enhancements”, the people of Moline have spoken. Bub-bye to 4-5 firefighter/paramedics PER SHIFT.

In six months the City of Moline, one of the “Quad Cities” along the Illinois-Iowa border will have its’ emergency medical services provided by a private entity.

"Are we doing it right or is everyone else doing it right?” asks Moline (IL) Mayor Don Welvaert. "When you look around us at the greater region, ourselves and our sister city of Rock Island are the only two public EMS systems left in the greater area."

The use of the word “greater” is now arguable.


The city council’s alderman voted 4-4 on the proposed budget package and Welvaert cast the deciding vote, effectively eliminating the positions of twelve of the city’s firefighter/paramedics.  The budget looks to close a $1.7 million dollar deficit.  The Council’s vote clears the way to begin accepting proposals for which the city hopes to choose one and have the private firm in place providing service on July 1, 2012

“I'm just looking at it from a financial point of view. What are the real numbers, because we've heard real numbers from A to Z. If the citizens of Moline are willing to fully fund EMS services and support personnel the tax rate would have to be readjusted," says 4th Ward Alderman Ted Ronk.

However, the nationwide cacophony of demands for lower taxes does not make that likely to occur.  Extremists like those in the Tea Party have demanded their political leaders not allow one extra penny of taxes.  Their extremist right-wing hero, Grover Norquist, has made many political “leaders” sign a pledge to that end. 

So bub-bye 12 finely trained firefighter/paramedics. One lump or two?

The vote was close. 7th Ward Alderman Sean Liddell who voted against the proposal put it this way:  "I would compare this call to privatize EMS in order to save pension costs being a boat that's taking on water and trying to bail out with a Dixie cup. Why would we cut personnel that all but pays for it?"

Union President Brian Vyncke expressed dismay that the city had not sought the union out earlier in the process to work toward a solution that would not result in slashing the daily staffing. 

“We understand concessions need to be made, but when they start threatening cuts of 4-5 firefighters on a shift, 18% of our guys, that's just not even remotely close to being fair."

The firefighter's union says this fight is not over. It will start negotiating with the city in January and the union says the goal is to save the 12 jobs.

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I think you could have squeezed a few more "extremist"s in your post.  I'm not sure I understand where you're coming from.


I'm prolly wasting my time, but here goes.  The reason the Tea Partiers hold the line on taxes is because the government already wastes so much, that if they were willing to cut the silly stuff to finance core government services like Fire and PD, there wouldn't be a need to raise taxes.  They should be standing up and saying "Cut parks and rec before you cut us!" along with the TPers instead of bashing them every chance they get.  Oh, and it wouldn't alienate brothers and sisters who may take a broader (or different) political and economic view of the situation rather than just how it affects your wallet, which is what I seem to hear an awful lot when it comes to posts on this and other emergency service-related websites.

Having written a couple articles on this issue, I wrote in support of firefighters keeping their jobs and keeping EMS as well.

Moline is in this financial situation as the result of three decades of mayors/city councils spending money with no clear priorities set. They "borrowed it forward" on pension obligations.

If they were instead choosing to cut Public Works instead of Public Safety, then Tea Party wouldn't even be mentioned.

Because taxpayers in Moline believe that they are already paying enough, it is the Tea Party's fault?

A good friend of mine is president of the movement in Moline and we had a spirited debate on this. He has nothing against public safety. He has a big problem with more taxes with no spending cuts.

This issue is bigger than extremists and Tea Party members.

And my blogs along with the links would demonstrate that.

The trigger is set to be pulled in February 2012, unless a miracle occurs. My guess is that 12 positions will go by attrition; retirements that will not be filled. Ambulance service will be...

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