As if to answer the immortal
challenge put forth by Parks and Recreation head George Rogers – Councilwoman Lynn
Kopka, D-At Large, is the only I know of who looked at Troy's fiscal dilemma and grew a
She is not afraid to look at the
deficit (which, according to the state Comptroller, is currently $6 million and
climbing) and look at where the most money is spent (51 percent of the budget
on pubic safety) and put two and two together.
It’s kind of like legendary thief Willie
Sutton. When the FBI asked him why he robbed banks he said: That’s where the
Politically, to even look at
cutting public safety takes guts or, as Rogers said, “balls.” But what are the
alternatives? Jack taxes through the roof? That just chases some people out and
deters others from moving in. I’m sure there are other spots in the workforce
or the budget that can get cut too, but public safety is the big enchilada and
it’s always been sacrosanct.
Sutton didn’t rob quicky marts.
They can be read below since I generally
get the juicer ones sooner or later.
(My favorite is from Councilman Bob
Doherty, D-District 4, asking why Kopka is sending former Councilman Mark
McGrath the emails. “As has happened
before when you email speculate using our communications to Mark they wind up
in Franco’s [hands] with accusations of black people colluding or other’s
alleged criminal behavior,” Doherty wrote on Nov. 9. I really have no idea what
he’s talking about when he says “black people colluding” but I’ve been called
worse. At least I think I’ve been called worse.)
Back to the issue … What Kopka is
proposing, or supporting, makes at least some sense since the North Station is
tiny with only one door and is home to just one pumper truck - although, someone
did send me a photo of an ambulance sitting outside the station at the corner
of North and River streets on Sunday. Provided the ambulance will find a
permanent home along the curb of North Station, I can’t help but wonder what
will happen should it get called out in January at, say, 3 a.m. Let’s hope the
patient can wait while firefighters scrape the windows.
Also, while there is just one
pumper truck – and possibly an ambulance – it has to be manned with two
firefighters 24-7, which equals the full time equivalent of 14 shifts. And when one of those 14 firefighters calls in
sick or goes on vacation, that shift is filled with another firefighter on
It was closed down in 1993 when
Central Station was opened on Sixth Avenue, the 14 shifts were disbursed to other
stations and it was re-opened for political reasons a few years later. Then it
was closed again, and then opened again. I don’t think many knew if it was open
or closed for the last two decades.
Troy currently has 133 cops, which
is the most since I’ve been at The Record. And shortly before I started covering
Troy it was under 100. And Troy just hired 14 new firefighters. Not everyone
loves cops but everyone loves firefighters.
It takes a “set” to even talk
about cutting the Fire Department.
Without further ado, here are the
emails (I just cut and pasted them so I can’t take credit for the typos):
From Councilman Jim Gordon to
Kopka on Nov. 7 at 5:40 p.m.
“I'm hearing that you and Erin are
in favor of closing the North Central fire station. This would be a huge hit
for this community, loosing it's police substation and now you want to close
its fire house.
I'm sure you're well aware of the
minimal manning clause in the UFA agreement, are you willing to layoff
firefighters to be able to realize any cost savings from this closure - after
just hiring 14? Are you aware of how operationally this rig works with engine 1
in Lansingburgh? Would there be a public safety and first responder safe concern?
There has been no constructive
bargaining sessions with the UFA, why aren't you calling on the mayor to
initiate constructive negations. This could address cost savings and open the
door for discussion on FD operations. Just like with the PBA contract, efficiencies
can be had if we had the leadership in our administration to properly
Additionally, you voted in support
of the purchase of a new fire truck and two new ambulances, now what do you do
with equipment such as this, that I believe is in the process of being ordered
at a hefty price tag, and the debt it creates.
While I applaud your ambition it
sounds like this proposal wasn't that well thought out before making public
statements. Is the mayor supportive of your proposal? Is there more to the
story than we are understanding? Please enlighten us.”
From Kopka to Gordon on Nov. 7 at
“Rodney does not speak for either
Erin or me. If you wish clarification on our suggestions, please contact us
From Councilwoman Anastasia
Robertson to Kopka on Nov. 7 at 11:50 p.m.
“Regarding the suggested closure
of any FD house is not a viable option especially in the North Central
Concerns addressed by Council
Gordon are definitely issues that should be researched before any such closure
were to be suggested let alone take place. North Central has minuscule
resources and cannot afford to have more deflected to Lansingburgh or any other
Both Lansingburgh and North
Central seem to shoulder the bulk of both fires and crime. Would you consider
the FD house servicing your area for closure as the need appears to be less? I
don't believe you would see that as a viable option.
I realize the constraints and
fiscal responsibility we are facing there are many things to consider but to
suggest taking resources out of a suffering community is not right or
On another note I also do not
agree with decreasing the NI Grants to 6500 from 9k. This grant though small in
scale serves many communities with an opportunity to beautify and in a small
way bring a touch of sunshine and neighborly cohesion. If there were other
grants for communities to draw from I might begin to understand, however this
is not the case. The NI Grant is a viable and necessary grant toward the
building and bridging of positive communities.
If you believe there are one or
two who failed to utilized their grants, then next year deny those applicants.
Just my thoughts. ...”
From Kopka to Robertson on Nov. 8
at 1:02 a.m.
“Anastasia - Had you participated
in the Wednesday caucus, you would know that I did not suggest that we close a
firehouse. I did suggest that Troy adopt the Albany model of identifying
savings in the public safety area (where the OT is creating problems) thru
joint efforts - the administration and the police and fire work together to
identify achievable savings.
Again, had you participated in
Wednesday's caucus, you could have voiced your opposition to the NIP cut.
In order to accomplish the ads
that many members wanted (Code Inspector, Grant Writer, Comptroller, Powers
Park, etc), reductions in expenditures must be found. As it is, the majority
submitted $47K in ads (not including fringe benefits for the positions) and has
not identified a like amount in expenditure reductions.”
From Doherty to Kopka on Nov. 8 at
“If there is a concerted effort to
manage and reduce personnel costs, it must target the workforce in its
entirety. Assuring management effectiveness to accomplish budgeted targets is
our core responsibility of stewardship and accountability to Troy’s citizens.
Because the uniformed Public Service sectors are our largest costs does not
mean they become the sole target of attention and actions. Given the
fundamental critical support of safety to citizen’s wellbeing, we should not
speculate on drastic proposals, unless and until our reviews efforts are
universal. The only effective effort will be a shared one with Administration.
If there is not willingness on all of our parts, that must be addressed and
Passing our budget and
acknowledging the content of the State Comptroller’s communications is the
immediate challenge. Our next responsibility is to gain accurate and timely
reporting of fiscal performance. We must start gaining the tools we need that
will lead to control and stability. Controls and varied effective
administrative actions to produce necessary outcomes need to be applied
forthwith and continually throughout the year.
Speculative targets that gain
attention for discussion don’t get us nearer to accomplishing our tasks.”
From Kopka to McGrath on Nov. 8 at
“Mark - here is why it would be
difficult to close a firehouse.”
From Robertson to Kopka on Nov. 8
at 11:10 a.m.
“Is there a reason why the
council's communications are being shared with Mr. McGrath?”
From Kopka to someone on Nov. 8 at
“I wanted to let him know about
the feasibility of closing a firehouse”
From Doherty to Kopka on Nov. 9 at
8:22 a.m. (my favorite)
“Then please write your own
communications and do not use mine. Adding Mark to our communications render
them subject to hyperbole and insult. As
has happened before when you email speculate using our communications to Mark
they wind up in Franco’s with accusations of black people colluding or other’s
alleged criminal behavior.
Sincere interest in solving
problems or even being thoughtful of the interests of Troy become an
opportunity to scorn.
I’m disappointed you continue this
behavior in spite of the chilling effect it has on your participation and
reputation. The answer to the question
“Do you ever embarrass yourself?”
Is apparently never. It is impossible to know when you are being
your usual contemptuous hurtful self or when you might actually want to be
taken seriously. I had hope you might
collaborate and dialogue about City finances, but disruption is more to your