Saturday, November 22, 2008

Hearing #1: Thanks To Those Who Spoke, and Who Serve

While a new proposal on reforming County government got all the attention in the paper, the real story at our public hearing was the heartfelt and passionate testimony by so many fine public servants. For that reason alone, I wish all our citizens could see these hearings in person.

I say this particularly because too often, I see comments online and blogs, and sometimes in person, that treat our public employees--whether they be our JFS workers or our Sheriff's deputies--incredibly harshly. Citizens' frustration with government (often understandable) too often spills over into unfair name-calling and insults of our public employees. Are they all perfect? Of course not--as headlines the last couple days have unfortunately made clear in two specific cases. But if citizens saw the vast majority of our public servants at work every day, or even saw them speak at our public hearings, I think they'd change their tune.

Wednesday, we had corrections officers speak passionately about their dedication to keeping the public safe. We heard from a deputy who'd worked his way through a Master's program while patrolling our neighborhoods to keep them safe, and now volunteers to get other young people involved in public service. And we had person after person speak with pride and passion about the work they do every day for the citizens of this County.

For an account of some of the testimony, go here, and skip the first few paragraphs:

As for the cuts on the table, they lamented not just the impact these proposed cuts would have on them personally, but on the service and safety they work so hard to provide. With so much on the line, they were still thinking well beyond themselves.

None of this makes our ultimate decisions easier--indeed, it makes it harder. Real lives are affected by this budget, both in who receives County services, and who delivers them.

As I said at the hearing, while we must balance our budget responsibly, we will continue to look for any solutions that minimize the impact of our slumping economy on the services we provide, particularly as they affect safety. And whether you're an employee or a citizen, this is the time to bring forward any cost-savings and efficiency ideas that would avert more direct cuts to service.

For the remaining hearings, we're all ears.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Public employees (JFS) seem to get a bad rap from the citzens it serves but I have seen many workers day after day put their whole heart and soul into there jobs in hopes of making a difference in a childs life.
so if you see a county worker thank them for a job well done...

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