Thursday, January 1, 2009

Westchester Guardian/The Advocate/Phil Amicone.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

The Advocate
Richard Blassberg

Something’s Fundamentally Reckless And
Indifferent In Mayor Amicone’s Calculations

Sunday, December 21st, more than 100 Yonkers residents from the neighborhood surrounding Fire Station 12 on Fortfield Avenue, joined
firefighters to protest Mayor Philip Amicone’s wrongheaded decision to remove Tower Ladder 75 from their firehouse.

In a press release one day earlier, Union President Hugh Fox, Jr. had warned, “The removal of this lifesaving apparatus from the
Fortfield Avenue Firehouse will result in unacceptably increased Fire Department response times for a large section of the City.”

Fox stressed, “In the Fire service, increased response times mean an increase in the likelihood of death, injury and property damage.” In other words, Amicone is increasing the risk of death and/or serious injury to Yonkers families by the foolhardy removal of an essential ladder company supposedly to save money, while, at the same time, giving extraordinary pay raises to 180 of his cronies; raises as high as $20,000 and $30,000 to ‘buddies’ already earning six-figure salaries.

Those who came out Sunday, many carrying signs which read, “Fire Kills: Don’t Cut Yonkers Fire Department,” braved a cold rain and damp, icy conditions to voice their fears and concerns over the latest of the Mayor’s thoughtless miscalculations. Union head Fox told The Guardian, “A fire that burns for more than three minutes gets out of control and can cause loss of life and property.”

Sounding angry and frustrated, he said, “The Mayor says it’s a Union problem. We don’t think so. We believe it’s an administrative problem.” Fox explained, “We worked with him. We took split raises. We negotiated in good faith. Meantime, he gives out raises to 180. That speaks for itself.”

The Union has taken the official position, “The Mayor’s decision to remove Ladder 75 from the Fortfield Avenue Firehouse is a reckless
and ill-thought decision that will jeopardize public safety and result in the unnecessary loss of life.”

We believe that Hugh Fox and his Union members are so very right in their assessment of Amicone’s Draconian approach to the City’s
fire safety. Referring to the Mayor’s, “wildly swinging an axe at the Fire Department’s budget,” the Union asks, “How many lives will be put at risk as a result?”

Sad to say, Amicone’s willingness to risk the safety and well-being of Yonkers citizens with respect to fire emergency is all too consistent
with his approach to systemic Yonkers police brutality; his “public-be-damned” attitude.

The firefighters know only too well that their Union representatives, under President Fox, met with Amicone and members of his staff
over a five-week period in an effort to avoid any significant cuts which would severely limit their ability to fight fires and provide other emergency services. The Union, “provided Mayor Amicone with an alternative plan” which they say, “would have assisted the City of Yonkers in weathering the current economic crisis.” The Union offered to make, “significant financial sacrifices and outlined a number of cost-cutting steps” which could have been taken.

Apparently the Mayor and his advisors believe they know better than the professionals who fight fires every day. They are willing to
play Russian Roulette with the lives of Yonkers families. Clearly, there is something unprincipled and dangerous in the thought processes of a mayor who would remove essential fire protection from hundreds of thousands of City residents in order to give huge pay raises to his cronies. If even one life is lost because of increased response times, will Amicone & Co. be held accountable?

People from all over Yonkers must reject Philip Amicone’s analysis, must call the Mayor’s Office, and their City Council representative,
and make their safety, and their children’s safety, their #1 concern.

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