NewsWorks contributor John Watson offers his thoughts about the recent brouhaha regarding the Wilmington Fire Department’s budget.
Here are John’s thoughts:
It looks like Mayor Dennis P. Williams once again proved who’s in charge in Wilmington.
This time it’s in regard to the debate over the Wilmington Fire Deptartment’s budget. WFD Chief Anthony Goode explained how important $511.000 in funds was in order to prevent possible coverage gaps and increased response times.
After he suggested that the impact of these cuts would be felt in the districts of Wilmington City Council members opposed to the cuts, Councilwoman Loretta Walsh lead a bandwagon that accused Goode of threatening city council members.
Wasting no time, some city council members voted against the fire department budget. In response, Williams vetoed the council’s ordinance, demonstrating that he has the guts to fight council.
Council President Theo Gregory bragged that he would be able to override the mayoral veto, not just by the nine votes needed, but by perhaps as many as ten votes. His beliefs were shot down when Councilman Darius Brown joined the five council members who initially voted in favor of the $511.000 in funding to the WFD.
Instead of the big 10 votes needed to override the veto, Gregory lost with a 7-6 outcome.
Gregory is quoted as saying he was disappointed with the outcome, but explained that the decisions were “their right. I have to respect they voted the way they did.”.
However, he refused to name those he thought were on his side. It appears the mayoral veto gave some council members time to rethink the entire situation.
Councilman Robert Williams, who opposed the cuts, said, “As I explained before, the original vote was taken in such short order, with no time to digest the information”
City council members who supported the cuts told the News Journal that no department will be overlooked as the city examines spending, observing that the controversial Berkshire study made the fire department a logical place to start.
But the firefighters and others, like yours truly, contend that such cuts would pose a public safety risk for the city, with the extra work load being picked up by firefighters working overtime. Gregory said that the fire department is off the chopping block for now and that council will proceed with plans to trim other departments.
As a result, it’s another win for Williams. Doing the job he was elected to do. Taking care of your needs and mine, needs that we can’t take care of ourselves.
Keep that in mind the next time you support those inclined to criticize almost everything Williams does.