The fire chief issue captured me on two levels:
First, I don’t think it is a good idea to allow Mayor Correia and the City Council to be the sole authority on hiring a fire chief. I believe it is Correia’s intention to irresponsibly cut the fire budget and a civil service chief would inhibit his ability to do so. Correia’s right hand man, Director of Municipal Services Alan Silva, cut emergency services at his last city job in Ft. Lauderdale . Crime went up, emergency response time went down, and that is a danger I am not willing to risk.
More important than my personal stance on the fire chief issue is the second factor on the topic – the spirit of democracy. Mayor Correia and the six city councilors (Joe Camara, Casey, Kozak, Lund, Pereira, Viveiros) completely overlooked the fact that they are the voice of the voters and not that of their own personal agendas. Mayor Correia admitted that he was in a rush to get this passed in the state legislature before the legislature recessed. This hastiness totally undermined the democratic process.
We, the registered voters of Fall River, have the opportunity to remind our local elected representatives that they work for us. Local forces have combined to create a referendum petition that, if signed by 12% of the registered voters of the city, would allow the city council to take a second look at the issue (hopefully less rushed this time). The council would then have the option to rescind the order. If the council chooses not to rescind, the issue would then go for a citizen vote at the next election so we can finally have our voices heard!
The official announcement will be made tomorrow Thursday 5/22/08 at 1:00pm at the 3rd Street entrance to Government Center. If you are able, please come and show your support.