An amendment proposed by Mayor Ethan Strimling to hire nine (9) additional firefighters at a cost of $400,00 failed late tonight when the six (6) conservative members of the city council voted against it. They are councilors Jill Duson, Media Mavadones, Kim Cook, Justin Costa, Spencer Thibodeau and Belinda Ray, in whose district the fire house is located. Supporting the Mayor’s amendment were Councilors Pious Ali, Brian Batson and Mayor Strimling – the progressive wing of the City Council. The vote against the amendment came at 11:00 pm.
Middle income Portlanders lost another round tonight at the hands of city manager Jon Jennings and his puppet Fire Chief Keith Gautreau. Gautreau stood his ground with his plan as Jennings watched the performance of his pick for one of the top notch positions in the city. What has Gautreau given up to his boss to keep this spot?
The elimination of Engine 1 from Munjoy Hill would reduce the number of firefighters to five the Chief said. Currently there are eight (8) firefighters based there.
Numerous firefighters testified to maintain Engine 1 on the Hill. Chris Vail, said: “The major topic circulating around our Munjoy Hill neighborhood is the reduction of their engine company. But make no mistake this is a city wide issue. All of our city neighborhoods need to sit up and take notice of this attempt to reduce engine I. I don’t need the political spin. I don’t need accountants and lawyers arguing apples, oranges and making recommendations from behind a desk. Let me explain. Baseball is played with 9 men on the field. The organization states to the manager we are on a restricted budget, we are only going to field 8 on defense. Right field is usually quiet, so just play with two outfielders. Ticket prices don’t go down. The team has less to get the same workload accomplished,” Chris Vail told the city council this evening.
Councilor Costa rationalized his no vote on the Mayor’s amendment: “I’m confused. I’m not comfortable with many options. It’s not about overtime per se, but city manager Jon Jennings thinks it is. I’m worried about the Chief’s long-term creditability.” (Or maybe it’s because he’s running for Mayor against the incumbent who is expected to announce his candidacy sometime this spring.) Oh? THIS passes the straight face test? Here’s another one: This budget increase is unsustainable said Conservative Kim Cook.
“I will be brief,” said councilor Media Mavadones this evening. That’s usually a red flag that the long-time city councilor will do the opposite. Maybe it’s because he spies the television cameras in the council chambers and it’s an opportunity he can’t resist.
Councilor Ali asked Chief Gautreau at what point did he know that Engine 1 was to be removed from the Hill. The Chief responded “during the budget process.” Ali asked him if he had reached out to the Munjoy Hill community to tell them what was coming. No, he did not. In other words, it was decided to surprise the Hill with the news of the downsizing of the firehouse so the community would not have time to respond accordingly. Where will the downsize end, many are wondering?
Ray announced that a reorganization of the permitting office is anticipated. Over many years, it has developed a reputation for lack of efficiency+. Another one?
Please see previous post on the matter dated May 17, 2019 herein.