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Fire Dept. cuts opposed; push pompous priests off pricey perches; Community Bill of Rights in sync with Constitution; Impeach Obama

Published: Sun, August 17, 2014 @ 12:00 a.m.

Cutbacks would jeopardize safety of residents, firefighters

The recent announcement from city hall about taking one firetruck and eight firefighters off the streets shouldn’t sit well with anyone inside the city. Yes, savings to the city would be a hefty $1 million. And the mayor assures the cuts will come without jeopardizing the safety of residents and businesses because no firehouse will be shuttered.

What about the safety of your firefighters? I guess you forgot to mention them or perhaps you’re not worried about the men and women who took an oath to protect Youngstown. Anytime you reduce resources, the safety of everyone is going to be affected.

The mayor also noted it’s a good plan because fires are declining, down from 412 in 2012 to 326 in 2013. However, the National Fire Incident Reporting System shows 432 fires in 2012 and 350 in 2013. If you take a look back through the year 2000, the lowest structure fire total was 338 in 2002. Does this really show a decline?

A recent news report showed Youngstown leads in arson for a city its size. And an article in The Vindicator in March stated the fire chief is taking a wait-and-see approach because one year of a downturn does not mean there is a trend.

As far as saving the city money, let’s see what the firefighters have done. In 2002, the safety forces did the dirty work for the city and got a 0.5 percent income tax passed (45 percent for police, 35 percent for fire, 20 percent for capital improvement). This was to bring the department to full staff of 140. Staffing never got to 140, only 136. A cost saving to the city.

Forward to 2008, firefighters stepped up again and accepted a 10-year step program. That’s 10 years before a new hire reaches full pay. To show good faith again, firefighters have taken pay freezes since 2009. A savings reported by the Vindicator on Nov. 10, 2009, to be $1.425 million over five years.

So, is this truck closure and personnel reduction about saving money? It already appears that your firefighters have and still are saving a significant amount without sacrificing service. Or is the city gambling with the safety of residents, visitors, businesses and firefighters?

Instead of cutting the muscle out of daily operations, why not cut the fat, starting with city hall? Until all other means of saving are met, leave the fire department functioning as is, so Youngstown continues to get the proper level of safety services.

John Casey, Youngstown

Casey is vice president of Local 312 of the International Association of Fire Fighters.

Pope should push pompous prelates off pricey perches

I write regarding your Aug. 9 editorial on the extravagant lifestyles of the American Catholic hierarchy

Yes, of course bishops, archbishops and cardinals believe they are royal princes. Why else would they flounce around in watered silk capes, lace surplices, French cuffs and silly hats and be addressed as “Monseigneur, Your Excellency, Your Grace and Your Eminence?” Next to them Liberace would have looked positively drab.

Cardinal Dolan may be the poster boy for the ultimate in royal extravagance but many other episcopal potentates hold forth in grand, regal style in their respective diocesan fiefdoms.

Christ would be appalled if he came back to see how the descendants of his 12 hand-picked fishermen have turned into a group of Wall Street-like 1-percenters.

Francis will have to do more than merely set a personal example of humility to pry these princes from their pompous perches. He will have to start handing out pink slips to those who fail to live their lives in the imitation of Christ. But don’t hold your breath on that one.

Henry E. Miller, Youngstown

Community Bill of Rights falls in line with Ohio Constitution

In your editorial of Aug. 10, “Anti-fracking charter issue will litter city ballot — again” you state “The Community Bill of Rights would place the city of Youngstown outside the reach of both the Ohio Constitution and the U.S. Constitution.” I disagree. The Community Bill of Rights is in alignment with the Ohio Constitution. It states in the Ohio Constitution, Article 1, Section 2: “All political power is inherent in the people. Government is instituted for their equal protection and benefit, and they have the right to alter, reform, or abolish the same, whenever they may deem it necessary ...”

The proposed Charter Amendment states in Section 122-1: The rights enumerated herein are adopted pursuant to the people’s natural inherent right to preserve and protect themselves, their families and their community, both human and natural, and their constitutional right of local community self-government .

If we do not have the guarantee of these rights, if we do not have the assurance the water we drink and the air that we breathe are free from cancer-causing poisons, if we do not have the assurance our homes will not be damaged by earthquakes, if we do not have the assurance that the people we elect are representing our needs, then we have the right — the responsibility — to see to it that the water we drink and the air we breathe is pure, that our homes will be inviolable, and that we elect people who will represent us, and not their own selfish interests.

Fracking is the issue today, but tomorrow, the issue could be anything from a nuclear waste plant to a genetically modified cattle factory.

You maintain the Community Bill of Rights is not enforceable. Whenever there is new legislation that is disputed, it is often tested in a court of law. One of the functions of our court system is to provide a means of changing laws in a peacefully.

Youngstown is one of many communities in the state and in the nation that is struggling to survive in a country run by corporate mega-monopolies. We are not alone. And those of us who support the Community Bill of Rights, who support Democracy and the rights of the many individuals who make up the majority will eventually win.

Diana Shaheen, Youngstown

An appeal to impeach Obama

Last Sunday’s letters to the Editor were excellent. I will add my comments to three of the letters, two of them dealing with illegal immigration.

Why are these illegal aliens better than our parents, grandparents, great grandparents, etc., who entered this country legally? It is a slap in the face to our ancestors, whether you are Democrat or Republican.

Why is there no outrage and cry for impeachment from all Americans across this great land of ours for a president who has a total disregard for our laws? His arrogance and disregard for our Constitution and laws of the land, makes what Nixon did while in office pale by comparison.

Allowing aliens to enter our country illegally for humanitarian reasons is a joke. This is another smokescreen to capture votes for his party now and in the future.

His flagrant disregard for our laws is scary, which leads to my comments about one of the other letters.

Most Americans I’m sure are not aware of the fact that many of our federal agencies, other than law enforcement, are buying guns and ammo to arm federal employees in the IRS, NSA, Justice Department, and many others.

Why do you think the framers of our Constitution included the Second Amendment to allow our citizens the right to bear arms? This wasn’t due for fear of foreign invasion, but to prevent a strong central government from usurping the rights of its citizens.

Robert DeFelice Sr., Poland


1steivo(540 comments)posted 11 months, 2 weeks ago

Robert DeFelice,
That may be the finest Letter to the Editor that I have ever read.

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2zentao70(4 comments)posted 11 months, 2 weeks ago

It would seem that you are attentive to the operations of the fire department. That being said - are you aware that Youngstown firefighters search vacant structures for vagrants? Are you aware that measures are taken to protect exposures because they may be occupied; pose a compounded hazard if allowed to burn or simply because it lengthens the time that firefighters are out of service for other requested needs. Furthermore, the truck that is being eliminated is the first in company for the downtown area - a growing section of the City that is growing in high-rise residential occupancies. There's an increasing number of structures that are of lightweight construction - a type of construction that is subject to collapse within just a few minutes of exposure to heat and flame.
A cut in personnel does in fact increase risk to the public and firefighters. The City already ignores organizational benchmarks recommended by the NFPA (NFPA 1710) and NIST. The closing of a truck could subject them to liability should it be determined that they were negligent in recognizing an established, factually supported standard.
What do you deem as the "real need for service?"

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3billdog1(3254 comments)posted 11 months, 2 weeks ago

zentao, you are trying to rationalize with an irrational person. Let it go. You cannot educate those that refuse to learn.

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4YtownParent(474 comments)posted 11 months, 2 weeks ago

Mr. Casey & zentao, if there truly is a need then the YFD can place an additional tax levy on the ballot and make the case to the voters to pass it. Otherwise the fire department has to live within its budget just like taxpayers have to. The YFD (and the YPD) have not lived within their budgets, nor have they come asking voters to increase their budget because they see a "real need for service". Instead, The YFD has systematically defrauded the public by raiding water department funds, as per the State Auditor's Reports spanning the past 10 years. If the department honestly needed the funds, then voters would give them what they asked for, but the YFD hasn't done that. They have illegally taken what they felt entitled to.

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5zentao70(4 comments)posted 11 months, 2 weeks ago


Your assumption is incorrect. I am not responding as a union member, fireman or even as a family member or friend of someone on YFD. Furthermore, I am not negotiating a contract. Therefore, I am not providing my opinion to influence minimum manning in order to “save my job.”
I am providing my opinion based on my concern as a resident of the City of Youngstown, but it goes beyond that. My concern is for myself, my property, the other citizens of the City and their property. It also encompasses those that visit Youngstown - students, employees, and patients at the hospitals - whatever the reason may be. My interest is in public safety.

No, gunr, I do not have the breakdown of the "meaningful categories." If YOU do, please enlighten us with the actual numbers and the categories.

Once again, what is important to you regarding fire service? What is “rational?”

Would you please provide readers with how the operations of the fire department should be conducted? How many firemen are needed for a vacant house fire? A vacant industrial building? How many are needed for an occupied house? How about Choffin School when in session? How many firemen are needed for a grass fire? Car fire? A detached garage? How about a hazardous materials spill on I-680? What about a multiple vehicle accident with people trapped?

"Better arguments are accepted when the real need for service is unmasked by the real facts."

You seem to diminish or ignore the FACTs mentioned in my original post.
Here are some references that you may refer to that provide credibility to what I very briefly mentioned:

1.) Lightweight building construction - http://www.nfpa.org/newsandpublicatio...
a. I address this topic due to the FACT that there are numerous locations within the City that have this type of building construction – including a moderately sized residential area called Arlington Heights.
2.) NFPA 1710 - http://carolstreamfire.org/NFPA%20171...
3.) High rise assisted living/senior building fire (not downtown) that addresses the FACT that sprinkler systems and alarms are not a failsafe - http://www.vindy.com/news/2014/apr/28...
4.) High rise fire at downtown business – fire WAS NOT put out by a sprinkler system. Also, there was an occupant on the 11th that was exposed to smoke. The fire was in the lobby – the entire building posed a hazard to anyone inside. By your standards and experience - how many firemen should be able to manage such a situation? http://www.vindy.com/news/2012/jul/13...

Although I am certain that nothing I have mentioned will mean anything to you – I would like to believe that it may mean something to others that may be impacted by the reduction in service.

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