Wilmington Budget Includes Layoffs
May 29, 2009
Adam Taylor - News-Journal
WILMINGTON -- City Council passed a $145 million operating budget Thursday night that includes layoffs of 17 police officers and eight firefighters.
It also includes double-digit hikes in property taxes, water-sewer fees and a per-employee tax on all but the smallest businesses throughout the city. Fines for parking tickets and red-light camera fines will go up as well.
Councilmen Steve Martelli, Justen Wright, Mike Brown and Trippi Congo voted against the budget. Martelli, a former city policeman, said he did so because he doesn't think the city worked hard enough to cut spending.
"The city should have looked into that as hard as the state government did, but it didn't," he said.
"We need to look at our take-home vehicle fleet and a host of other spending items before we even consider laying off the public safety workers who protect people who live, work or visit Wilmington."
Wilmington City Council's prime movers, for all their rumblings about getting a tighter rein on spending and lard, are about as effective as a convenient rubber stamp in the puffy hands of Baker's champagne government.
The four council members who voted against the budget deserve praise. Notably all, except lone council Republican Mike Brown, are newly-minted in their positions, elected last November for the first time....perhaps a harbinger of hope for the future.
The more I hear from Steve Martelli, the more he impresses me as someone who "gets it", unwilling to just go-along to get-along. Congo and Wright have also struck me as quite thoughtful and dedicated in their approach to their public service.
All appear unbeholden to the tired uninspiring politics of the city's perpetual dinosaur incumbents who nonetheless remain firmly in charge of city government...for now.
For all Baker's and his flunkies' rhetoric, they want (and got) absolutely zero curbs on the their junta's perqs and patronage...while shedding crocodile tears about economic tough times, Baker repeatedly admitting how hard the citizenry has been hit, across the board.
That the result of this budget is all about whichever unions most compliantly cut deals with the Baker mafia says it all about the yawning void of public responsibility we get from absolutist Democrat rule in Wilmington.
Of course, the sectors of city employees representing the real lard were quickest to fold, avoiding the public spectacle underway between the Baker mob and the public safety employee unions.
The ranks of non-essential employees, embedded as their unions are in our government, knew damn well which way public sentiment would go were they to attempt a public fight like the fire and police are waging - and it would not be one of sympathy to their bleating about "maintaining services" or the woe-is-us 'plight' of layers of useless Wilmington bureaucrats.
Of course, fire and police know the public is with them, at least on the big issues of human and material resourcing. So their unions have held out where all the others quickly grabbed whatever they could from the status quo Baker gravy train, just as promptly receding back into their holes.
The result of this twisted path to fiscal pseudo-responsibility is that public safety workers are the "last man standing" and thus to be subjected to layoffs...by mere default. (Let's not forget that earlier this year Baker canceled this year's police academy.)
There was never so much as a hint of real debate or even question over whether the citizens would be the first and only stop for more cash to fuel the Baker Gravy Train Express. It was all about how to assuage the City's bloated workforce and bureaucratic patronage rolls, and how far they could all insulate themselves from economic reality.
The taxpayers and all other targets of voracious Wilmington government revenuers are simply sheep to be further fleeced by over-paid, over-fed self-dealing parasites whose apparent biggest concern is how to deal with government employee unions while keeping everyone on the rolls fat and happy...no matter what the cost to the public...or its safety.
When public safety layoffs are not a function of public safety (or the last blow from near fiscal collapse) but instead are simply the end result of the public farce of a strongarm bully executive pretending to play hardball with unions, except for the ones really playing hardball with him, it is alarmingly clear that this city is
It is truly disgusting.