Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Playing Politics with Public Safety

The pettiness of some local politicians is legendary, and a recent audit of the County's 2004 fiscal records seems to have uncovered more. There has long been speculation that a new firehouse in the Annapolis neck area has been blocked by the Owens' administration, despite the dire need for one 1, because of the Executive's oft rocky relationship with Councilwoman Barbara Samorajczyk (D-Annapolis Roads).

Now we learn in yesterday's Capital that the Executive laid off 16 police officers in a year that the County had a $59 million budget surplus. Initial projections were that the officers might have to be laid off because the budget would be tight, but rather than wait to see if the officers could be accomodated, Owens ordered the lay off the same night the Council voted against her wage freeze for County union members.

As a result of the layoffs, 8 of the police recruits found work elsewhere (while the other 8 were eventually hired by the County). By laying off the recruits, who had already gone through police academy, the Executive squandered the $560,000 it cost to train the officers ($70,000 a piece).

That's a hefty price for the Council and the citizens of Anne Arundel County to pay for the ill conceived whims of a vindictive Exec. Unfortunately, that's just the tip of the iceberg.

1 - According to the Annapolis Neck Small Area Plan, "based on Fire/EMS responses between 1998-2001 to the Outer Annapolis Neck south and east of Bay Ridge at Hillsmere Road and north and east of Bay Ridge Road at Edgewood Road, the average response time was 11½ minutes. The goal should be to achieve ... maximum response times of 6 minutes for EMS Basic Life Support (BLS) and 10 minutes for EMS Advanced Life Support (ALS) or for a full structure fire a minimum of 90% of the time."



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