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Firefighters should be last personnel to go

Overtime colors layoff debate | Aug. 2, article

Spare firefighters from cost cutting

There was a lot of talk that showed an extremely one-sided and opinionated view of firefighter wages. As many already know, the firefighters union is in a battle right now for the jobs of 20 to 60 employees. Due to looming budget cuts, the County Commission has directed its departments to each cut up to 15 percent of the budget for next fiscal year.

Fifteen percent may not seem like much, but it can be devastating to a Fire Department that is still behind the times.

I am a driver/engineer/EMT with seven years of service for Pasco County. I am also a resident, taxpayer and registered voter in Pasco County. I am ashamed in both respects for everything that is going on right now.

In the article, it was shown that our highest paid employee made just short of $110,000 last year. This is way above the average for most residents and a majority of the Fire Department. The employee in question is a veteran captain/paramedic. He is responsible for the lives of himself and the six other personnel assigned to his station. He is also responsible for responding to and mitigating any and all emergencies that he and his crew are sent to.

We are subject to call at the end of our shift for what we refer to as mandatory overtime. We are not asked, we are told that we will be spending up to 24 more hours at the station. As far as pay, because of our work schedule, we also do not begin accruing overtime until we reach 106 hours in a 14-day period. Most other professions see overtime after 40 hours in a week.

Consider the hours, the holidays, the weekends, the time we spend away from our family, our education and the risks we take. We are underpaid. We are also underpaid when compared with surrounding departments.

As a taxpayer, I am bewildered as to why a commissioner would not stand up for his public safety employees. He remarked that the information provided in the article would be of interest to the public.

I am less concerned about how much money is spent on my and my family's safety and more concerned that it took the county spending $160,000 on a consulting firm to tell them that the fire service and Sheriff's Office should be its top two priorities. I, as well as any other citizen, could have told them that for much less cost.

There are many areas in which costs can and should be cut at a county level and at a department level. There are many less essential and nonessential services that could be cut or eliminated. The last thing that should be cut is the staffing of career firefighting personnel. That should be an absolute last resort.

David Ray, New Port Richey

Motivation is transparent C.T. Bowen column, Aug. 2

Columnist biased against sheriff

It's obvious you have a personal vendetta against Sheriff Bob White. It's not about the Fire Department joining Bob White, it's about the Fire Department joining the sheriff, whoever it may be.

If the sheriff's budget is larger than the County Commission's, then it could possibly save jobs and taxpayers' money. That's worth checking. I don't care about all of the politics, which obviously you're right in the middle of.

If you want to talk about our salaries, keep it in perspective and talk about our hourly rate. There are illegal immigrants cutting your grass making more per hour than a rookie firefighter. Then subtract close to $800 per month for family insurance.

You're a moron.

Kris Johns, Holiday

What happened to our patriotism?

I was deeply saddened when I heard the news of the death of U.S. Army Spc. Justin Coleman. I forwarded the grim message along to other veterans. It felt as if I lost a brother. Not a brother by blood, but a member of a brotherhood.

We lost one of our own here in Hernando County. We lost a young man on foreign soil. "Heroes" who live in lavish luxury (pop music stars) shouldn't be hailed as heroes. The men and women serving in our armed forces should be.

When 9/11 occurred, we, as Americans, seemed shocked. After the initial shock was over, we stood tall. We had flags on our cars. We flew flags in our front yards. We stood ready. We lost almost 3,000 Americans that day. Many joined the armed forces to right the wrong. We've lost over 5,000 servicemen and women in Iraq and Afghanistan. Where did all the flags go? Why aren't we standing as tall? Where are the yellow ribbons? Have we forgotten?

If you don't have an American flag waving proudly in your front yard, standing tall, then get one. The next time you're at the store, buy some yellow ribbon and tie it around a tree in your front yard. Wear a red shirt on Fridays. The next time you see an elderly man at the store with a World War II hat on, take a moment and shake his hand to thank him. The same for those who served in Korea, or Vietnam, or in Iraq during Desert Storm — and every conflict in between. How can that possibly make a difference? Because that man may have lost his brothers, and in a small way, you are honoring their sacrifice through him. We are free today because of our veterans, and for those who wear the uniforms today.

In 2007, we lost Spc. Cody Grater in Iraq. I stood on Mariner Boulevard with my family as the hearse passed us. The showing of patriotism that day was indescribable. I started the Military Appreciation Show on WWJB-AM 1450 in January 2008 because of Spc. Grater.

It should not take the death of a service member for us to show our patriotism and pride in being Americans. Visit NeverEndingSupport.org for information.

Thank you, Spc. Justin Coleman. May you rest in peace. Please know that your sacrifice will never be forgotten.

William Pierson, Spring Hill

Enforce codes or cut department

If you drive down Jasmine Estates Drive, you will find grass overgrown and the pea stone yards turning to grass. Why can't Code Enforcement do its job? If they can't write up anybody because they don't have any money, I would be handing out summons to make money.

It is nonsense that only neighbors can call in complaints about adjoining yards. They are too scared. In the meantime, the neighborhood gets more trashy.

I counted 35 houses on the main road with violations. That is a lot of money to pass up. If Code Enforcement is not going to do anything, why do we need them? Ax them from the budget. The same amount of work will get done and we'll save all that money.

Who wants to live in a slum? People don't need five or six cars in their driveway with a boat that should be in storage.

Richard Imondi Jr., Port Richey

Firefighters should be last personnel to go 08/03/09 [Last modified: Monday, August 3, 2009 7:51pm]

    

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