Timing Is Everything
TIMING - it's an interesting word. One of my dictionaries defines the word as follows: "Selection for maximum effect of the precise moment for beginning or doing something." It can be used in many contexts - the timing of Manny Ramirez' swing when he was actually able to play for the Dodgers or the perfectly executed behind-the-back pass from Derek Fisher to Kobe Bryant in the NBA playoffs. However, what brings this word to mind today is the juxtaposition of a few recent events.
First, we have our budget crisis, which is impacting everyone and every level of government - federal, state and local. At the state level, the spineless morons we've elected to the Assembly and Senate have, along with our actor /Governor, failed to produce a real balanced budget and what they have produced depends on the approval by the voters of a passel of measures staring them in the face on the May 19th ballot.
SANTA BARBARA FIRES
Then we have the horrendous fires in Santa Barbara, which will apparently still be burning after a week and, at the time I prepare this missive, have destroyed more than 6 dozen homes, damaged many others, displaced tens of thousands of people and have cost still-undetermined millions of dollars to fight. We here at A Bubbling Cauldron are particularly concerned about those fires because we have relatives among those first ordered to evacuate their homes nearly a week ago and who just returned to their home of a half-century this morning to find that the fire - which began literally a stone's-throw away from their location - had nearly circled it over the past five days because of the capricious, shifting winds but left it and others on their street undamaged.
The "timing" reference deals with the first news conference our actor/Governor held at the Command Center at the Earl Warren Fairgrounds, with the smoldering hills behind him, in which he made none-to-veiled threats that if his ballot measures failed it would mean laying off many of the brave firefighters who, at that time, had fought the Santa Barbara fires for two days straight. What an opportunistic hack he has turned out to be!
MORE "HEAT" ON LOCAL LEADERS
Similarly, I have no doubt that our local elected leaders will be feeling the heat - pun fully intended - of these fires as they attempt to deal with our own firefighter union regarding our budget. Timing...
VIOLENT CRIME UP
Then we had the report last week that violent crime in Costa Mesa was up 35% - apparently only one of two Orange County cities to show an increase. Those statistics will undoubtedly become part of the discussions as our elected leaders attempt to deal with our police unions on budget issues. Timing...
I ADMIRE PUBLIC SAFETY FOLKS
Let me be clear about one thing... The brave men and women who, literally, put their lives on the line for us as police officers and fire fighters deserve all the accolades they receive as they go about performing their dangerous duties. There are those in this community who criticize them because they perceive them to be under-worked and overpaid. That's a crock! In any hierarchy there will always be a few people who know how to "work the system", but for the most part I think our public safety employees work hard in dangerous jobs to keep us all safe. I thank them for their dedication.
That being said, and even in light of the current fire emergency in Santa Barbara in which members of our fire department are participating and considering the spike in violent crimes in our city, it is my firm belief that the unions for those organizations MUST sit down with the city leaders to try to find a way to help balance our budget with few or no persons laid off. If they don't they then force the city council and senior staff into a corner - layoffs or no budget. The City Manager has said recently that "we will have a balanced budget by July 1st".
WE KNOW YOU'RE BRAVE, BUT ARE YOU WISE?
So, to our public safety staff members I say, now is the time to demonstrate that you are not only brave, but wise, too. Now is the time to sit down with the leaders of our city to try to find a way to help balance the budget without members of your organizations being laid off. It's time to recognize that the voters of this city have treated you well during the good times and only want you to try to help through this current crisis by sharing the load with your peers instead of having some of them cast aside.
WHICH ROAD TO TAKE?
It would be easy for the fire fighters and police to use the current Santa Barbara fire and the recent increase in crime numbers as bargaining chips in this little budget waltz with the city. My question is, do they really want to do that? Or, might they, instead, step up and make a good faith attempt at resolving our budget crisis by taking the high road. I guess we'll see. I know we'll remember.