Mayor Getting Singed by Fallout from Fire Cuts
Talk about the chickens coming home to roost. Only a few weeks ago the mayor was excoriating the firefighters union for sending out mailers claiming that Mr. Villaraigosa's July fire department budget cuts would compromise public safety. The mailer, which used images from Chatsworth's 2008 Amtrak disaster, purported to show by how much today's rescue services would be understaffed at the site of a similar train wreck. The mayor was especially incensed by the mailer's Amtrak-crash analogy -- as though the idea that his cuts could have safety consequences was only some Photoshopped fantasy. With the fire season in full and horrific swing, however, those mailers are starting to look a little prophetic.
Blogger Ron Kaye picks up on this theme today:
"Now we find a kid may have drowned because the short-staffed local firehouse was busy elsewhere and we see, not surprisingly, that fire crews are invaluable, especially in the heart of fire season."
Not only that, but Kaye accuses the mayor of being, if not asleep at the wheel during the Station Fire crisis, then certainly nodding: "It took the mayor five days after the Station Fire broke out to lift his furlough order for firefighters. By then, two firefighters were dead and 105,000 acres, 18 homes charred, smoked choked the LA Basin and there was no end in sight."
Before this fire season is over, many a political career may be left
scorched, and not just the mayor's. Even as Governor Arnold
Schwarzenegger has been claiming credit for the state's reserve
fire-fighting funds, he's had to deny that budget cuts have
hampered efforts to quell the state's multiplying blazes. He may be right, but after the smoke has cleared, questions will also be asked about who allows new housing developments to be built deeper and deeper into known fire zones -- and why.
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