Our country and human nature demand healthy debate when community decisions are required. Some would have you believe they know best and must be allowed to make critical decisions without debate just because you like them.

Hemet city leaders last week said there must be a major overhaul in the management structure of the city’s fire department. If those changes can not be accomplished, then the city might strongly consider eliminating the department for an option such as contracting with CAL FIRE.

Wake up Idyllwild! The Riverside County Grand Jury last month said the Idyllwild Fire Protection District (IFPD) has problems with late payments to the CalPERS pension fund and vendors, checks written but not sent to suppliers, and an inability to reconcile their cash balance.

They also said the 2007-2008 Riverside County Grand Jury Report recommended that IFPD explore the feasibility of contracting with CAL FIRE to provide fire protection services to the mountain communities. The district’s major objection for maintaining the status quo is that CAL FIRE would be more costly; however, no analysis or study has been performed to establish CAL FIRE’s costs to provide services nor is the true cost known for IFPD as it is currently organized.

The Grand Jury once again recommends this inquiry. Most of the commissioners and candidates have their heads in the sand. Remember, the Grand Jury represents the people of the great State of California, not the pop-off leaders and candidates we hear and see in the press.

IFPD is broke and is at risk of a default. They have little or no cash to pay the salaries and bills, let alone paying for any emergency or equipment failure.

The core equation must change. That’s right folks, IFPD has an emergency. Ben is right — the department is failing. Now they want more taxes. Revenue coming in must always meet existing and planned expenditures! Guess what the board and good ole boy candidates believe?

If you want a viable department, raising taxes and salaries above the norm is not the answer. Oh, that’s right, they used Hemet Fire Department salaries as the comparison for their new norm. IFPD, you can’t print more money, sorry commissioners and candidates.

The administration and commission won’t change in the near future. Salaries and defined benefit retirements will continue to spiral unchecked. No one on this commission can call themselves fiscal conservatives, and I mean none.

Unlike other special districts on this mountain with similar operating expenses that have managed to save healthy amounts of cash for planned operations and emergencies, this board knowingly spent their emergency reserves into the ground and have mismanaged their mechanisms for generating revenue. With that heinous act each commissioner should be recalled.

Their equation will fail without Measure G. Peoples’ lives will be put in harm’s way.

Nothing is worth that. I am convinced this commission will make sure of it to drive home their point as other departments have across this state. What is wrong with this commission?

You must vote “Yes” on Measure G just to keep the office open.

Jeff Smith
Pine Cove