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Firefighter Charter Amendment
City of Palo Alto
firefighter charter amendment - Majority Approval Required
Fail: 6,567 / 24.81% Yes votes ...... 19,906 / 75.19% No votes
Index of all Measures
|Results as of Nov 23 2:45pm, 100.0% of Precincts Reporting (53/53)|
|Information shown below: Impartial Analysis | Arguments | Full Text|
Shall the Charter be amended to require the City to continuously maintain in all budgetary years at least the number of Fire Department Personnel authorized in the 2009-10 Annual Budget, and to prohibit the City from implementing any proposal to reduce fire staffing levels or close or relocate a fire station unless the City Council holds two public hearings, submits the measure to voters, and a majority of voters approve the proposal?
The measure also establishes requirements for any proposal to change the minimum staffing and/or emergency medical service levels. First, the City Council must hold two public hearings on any proposed staffing reduction. Second, a majority of the City Council must vote to approve the proposal. Finally, the proposal shall be submitted to the voters at the next regular municipal or general election and shall not be implemented unless and until approved by a majority of voters.
The Charter Amendment requires the same procedures for any proposals to close or relocate a fire station. The City currently operates a total of eight fire stations, with six stations located across the City and an additional two stations located on Stanford University property, one on Stanford Campus and one at the SLAC National Accelerator. Station 8 is located in Foothills Park is only staffed during the peak fire season. None of these stations could be closed or relocated without completing the three step process of completing two public hearings at the City Council, achieving majority approval of City Council for the relocation or closure, and attaining majority approval by voters at the next regular municipal or general election of the specific relocation or closure.
According to the City Clerk, the estimate for the cost for each election required as a result of this amendment would range from approximately $100,000 to $150,000, depending upon whether other elections are held at the same time.
There is no natural disaster, fiscal emergency, or other exception provided to these procedures, so the public hearings, council approval, and election requirements must be completed regardless of circumstances which require the relocation or closure of a fire station or a reduction in staffing. There is also no exception provided for the temporary closure or relocation of a fire station or temporary reduction in staffing.
This Charter Amendment will become effective if a majority of those voting on the measure vote for the amendment.
/s/ Gary M. Baum
|Arguments For Measure R||Arguments Against Measure R|
|Measure R will give you, the residents of Palo Alto, the right to decide how many firefighters you want responding to 911 emergency calls and to be an integral part of the decision process should the City of Palo Alto decide to close your fire stations. The opponents of Measure R want to take the decision making power away from you, the residents. The city government and politicians believe they should be able to make the final decision in regards to the safety of you and your families. Measure R will give you the final say as to how the community as a whole should be protected.
Measure R will require two public hearings before the Palo Alto City Council should any proposal regarding the reduction of fire department staffing, minimum service levels, and/or emergency medical service levels be presented by the City Council or staff of the City of Palo Alto. This will also apply to any proposal to close or relocate a fire station. Should such a proposal be approved by a majority vote of the City Council, you, the voters, will have the opportunity to make the final decision at the next regular municipal or general election. No proposal shall be implemented until approved by the majority of the voters in said election.
Your support and yes vote on Measure R will secure your right to have a solid voice when it comes to protecting your family. Without taking this opportunity to strengthen your voice, there could be fewer firefighters available and fire stations open when you dial 911. It is imperative that your voice is heard! Vote yes on Measure R.
/s/ James H. McLaughlin
/s/ Alan C. Davis
/s/ John J. Garcia
/s/ Robert L. Paugh
This is just one more reason why we're urging our neighbors across Palo Alto to join us in voting No on Measure R. Passage of Measure R would most likely lead to budget disarray.
This measure does nothing to protect our City. Measure R singles out the Fire Department for special treatment and holds the rest of the budget hostage while awaiting a public vote. If the City Council voted to reduce fire department staff by even one person, their decision would be "on hold" until the next election, likely 5 or 6 months away. This budget limbo could have negative impacts on all city services, including police protection and 911 services.
Passage of Measure R could be the first step down a slippery slope, quite possibly leading to copycat measures requiring annual public votes on potential budget expenditures by the City. Should we put police services, parks, libraries and other services to an annual election as well?
Vote NO on Measure R - a Risk Palo Alto can't afford. The City Council is elected to set priorities and negotiate contracts with all of our unions. We, the voters, have an opportunity every two years to show our approval or disapproval of City Council actions and budget decisions.
/s/ Lanie Wheeler
/s/ Barbara Mitchell
/s/ Greg Tanaka
/s/ A Glanckopf
/s/ Vicky Chang
|The firefighters who serve Palo Alto are trusted public servants who put their lives on the line to protect our community. This is their job and we respect them tremendously.
However, we're voting No on Measure R because it's the job of city council members, not ballot measures, to set priorities for our city and make budget decisions. Sponsored by the firefighters' union, Measure R is an unprecedented power play that takes budget decision making out of the hands of our elected officials.
If approved, Measure R would prohibit Palo Alto from implementing ANY proposal to reduce fire staffing levels without an election and majority vote approval from voters.
Like almost every other government agency during this economic downturn, the Palo Alto City Council was recently forced to make deep cuts to all services. While every other group of city employees stepped up and agreed to reduce salaries or forgo pay raises, the firefighters union refused to agree to any reductions or contribute their fair share to the budget crisis. To make matters worse, they then placed this measure on the ballot.
If Measure R passes, it will become nearly impossible for the Fire Department's budget to ever be reduced. This will translate into deeper cuts to all other city services including police, parks and libraries - this is simply unfair to our residents who rely on these services.
By putting this measure on the ballot, the firefighters union is costing Palo Alto $200,000 that could have been better spent on city services. Passage of this measure could lead to even more expensive future elections.
Please join neighbors and community leaders from across Palo Alto in voting No on Measure R - a costly and unnecessary power play that could negatively impact the quality of life we all enjoy. For more information please visit http://www.safepaloalto.com
/s/ Liz Kniss
/s/ Carolyn Tucher
/s/ Ray Bacchetti
/s/ Walt Hays
/s/ Larry Klein
Reduction of staff or the closure of fire stations will increase response time to fires and medical emergencies, which is critical to successful fire suppression and recovery of persons suffering severe health problems.
Measure R assures the residents of Palo Alto that they will have a chance to vote on any such reductions, since they may add unnecessary risks to our safety and well being. We each need to have a say in such a decision.
Fire Department staffing levels have decreased dramatically over the past thirty years, yet the number of emergency calls has doubled. More than sixteen percent (16%) of the residents of Palo Alto are 65 years old or older. These residents depend upon the Fire Department's speedy response to their emergencies.
The opponents to Measure R are ignoring residents' safety just so politicians alone can make budget reduction decisions.
Measure R will give you, not just the politicians, a voice in setting the priorities that will affect your safety and the safety of your loved ones. Measure R will ensure that when you dial 911, you will get a quick response and enough firefighters/paramedics to do the job. Vote YES on R.
/s/ James H. McLaughlin
/s/ Alan C. Davis
/s/ John J. Garcia
/s/ Robert L Paugh
|Full Text of Measure R|
Fire and Emergency Medical Services Minimum Protection
Sec 1. PURPOSE. It is the purpose of this measure to assure continuing minimum staffing and emergency medical service levels for the Fire Department as set forth in Section 3, below, and to further assure that any closure or relocation of a fire station and any reduction in the staffing and emergency medical services levels in the Fire Department must first be approved by the voters.
Sec. 2. DEFINITIONS. For the purpose of this Article only, the following terms shall be defined as set forth below:
(a) "Fire Department" shall mean the public organization within the City of Palo Alto providing rescue, fire suppression, emergency medical services, and related activities to the public.
Sec. 3. FIRE DEPARTMENT STAFFING. The number of Fire Department personnel authorized by the City of Palo Alto in the 2009-2010 approved Annual Budget for the Fire Department shall be continuously maintained as a minimum number of Fire Department personnel in all subsequent budgetary years.
Sec. 4. REFERENDUM VOTE. Any proposal by the City Council or staff of the City of Palo Alto to reduce the minimum service of staffing and/or emergency medical service levels in the Fire Department and any proposal to close or relocate a fire station shall be the subject of two public hearings before the City Council of the City of Palo Alto. Any such proposal(s) that have been approved by a majority vote of the City Council shall be submitted to the voters for approval at the next regular municipal or general election. No such proposal shall be implemented until approved by a majority of voters voting in said election.
Sec. 5. SUPERSESSION. The provisions set forth in this Article shall supersede all general and/or specific provisions that may be contained elsewhere in this Charter. The provisions set forth in this Article shall also supersede any and all general and/or specific provisions in any ordinance, resolution, rule or regulation that may have been adopted or that may be adopted by the City Council or by administrative action.
Sec. 6. SAVINGS CLAUSE. If any provision, sentence, clause, section, paragraph or part of this Article is found to be unconstitutional, illegal or invalid, such unconstitutionality, illegality, or invalidity shall affect only such provision, sentence, clause, section or part of this Article. It is hereby declared to be the intention of the City of Palo Alto that this Article would have been adopted had such unconstitutional, illegal, or invalid provision, sentence, clause, sections or parts therefore not been included herein.