Sunday, December 14, 2014
CITY FACED WITH HARD QUESTIONS ACCEPTS REALITY AND ACTS RESPONSIBLY
ACTS IN PUBLICS INTEREST – PUBLIC SAFETY TO DOMINATE
YOU CAN’T DO WHAT YOU WANT WHENEVER YOU WANT APPLIES
TO DANCING AND EMPLOYEE CONDUCT
City Council Meeting of December 11th made known that the City’s primary responsibility is to protect the public……An act of tough love was taken in dealing with citizen and employee conduct that speaks directly to this issue. Awakening the youth of the city to this fact appears to require the use of KID GLOVES to appease and mollify them into awareness that PUBLIC SAFETY comes first….. Even when applied to DANCING as a form of Freedom of Speech. (You can’t yell FIRE in a theater simply to exercise freedom of speech). In a perfect world everyone would use common sense and comply with Health & Safety Regulations which is foundation for most laws……Driving a vehicle…..Building Occupancy……Managing large Outdoor Crowds….. Simple things like making sure responsible people have adequate number of toilets so they don’t find it necessary to use bushes, lawns, sides of buildings or expose their private parts to those utilizing the same space. We know the majority of people comply with laws……We couldn’t hire enough public safety officers to enforce the law if the majority of folks didn’t readily comply and agree to obey.
History and experience has shown us that a small number of folks will NOT comply…… Due to ignorance, immaturity or uninhibited behavior caused by consumption of alcohol or marijuana etc. which often times accompanies public events. Therefore, in order to protect the majority of us from the unwanted threats to our Health and Safety…..City Government MUST ACT to protect us and they do so by requiring PERMITS – SPECIAL EVENTS PROCESS…..That even apply to Public Dancing Events.
Displaying a sensitivity and genuine interest in permitting as much freedom of expression as possible, Mayor Pike opened the door for Tiffany Barton to speak to the Dance Issue…..Even though this meeting did NOT include a Public Hearing as part of the agenda. This I believe is in keeping with his election promise to…..Listen and to Hear and provide greater transparency in City government. Tiffany made her point…..What was touched upon tonight “Is not what we brought to the table.” Well, she was right. The Dance Interest Group was asking for the same thing many of us have been requesting……REFORM City Ordinance(s) and Enforcement Practices. The public is demanding City Government to CLEAN UP IT’S ACT when it comes to Selective Enforcement….Equal and fair treatment under the law in the way fines and waivers of penalties are applied. YES, the process has to be streamlined…..It is NOT necessary for all 214 request for Special Events made this year to have to come before the Council…..Anymore, than, those wanting to dance should be made to feel disenfranchised, when it comes to how they are treated or made to feel when seeking a Special Event Permit to dance. Folks this isn’t Rocket Science……It gets down to doing the right thing and treating people equally, fairly and with respect. It also means for those wanting Special Event Dance Permits to recognize Health & Safety Issues.
NEXT: Hearing for an employee (Fireman’s) appeal of the City Manager’s decision to uphold a department head’s recommendation for demotion…..Failure to comply with required safety-certification training. (Required to attend 75% of assigned training each year). Presented were circumstances and conditions, including supervisory adherence to accepted practices relating to employee-management interviews/counseling practices. My friends, the bottom line of all of this is that Fire Fighter’s Training is absolutely essential in providing for Public Safety. Having heard both sides of the issue Council voted to uphold the demotion.
Public Interest/Public Safety concerns prevailed on both issues presented to readers. As the title of this article stated the Council acted in a responsible manner. THERE IS HOWEVER…..A bigger issue that has been raised…..For some time now…..On how city government implements and administers City Ordinances and how it trains and supervises employee conduct and performance. The city council is charged with the responsibility of overseeing and supervising Department Heads that run the daily operation of all facets of city government. BEFORE these matters and issues reach the level of City Council action…..We seem to be forgetting that they first lay at the feet of the City Manager and to a lesser degree the City Attorney…..They work in harmony. It appears that NO ONE seems to hold the City Manager accountable…..I believe many of the issues concerning civil litigation, employee relations, city ordinances, enforcement practices, special event permits all at one time or another come before the preview of the City Manager……This includes how and which building permits are signed off as having been completed in compliance with city codes……Such as sewer lines, roadways, use of public easements, drainage issues….The list goes on.
My friends, the symptoms common to longevity that we see in U.S. Senate and House of Representatives appear to be present in our long time City Manager. We know that the City is not the same, as when Gary began his service almost 40 years ago. The standard of approval for signing off on building permits leading to Certificate of Occupancy has changed. The storage of equipment, Recreational Vehicles on private property has evolved with new and expensive housing. The laxity of uniform enforcement and issuance of fines has led to lawsuits…..The inoculation of the City Manager from accountability…..Has in my opinion led to pitting neighbor against neighbor. One wanting and expecting the City Ordinance preventing recreational vehicles from being stored in the front yard…..Being in conflict with a neighbor who is accustomed to doing just that….. Regardless of ordinance requirements…..Employees charged with enforcement of standards appear confused and follow the example set by their leaders…..Arbitrary or no enforcement becomes the norm. We should not only be telling the youth…..But telling ourselves….. There is a time and a place for everything. The time for reform is now within City Government.
Thomas Jefferson “I have ever deemed it more honorable and profitable, too, to set a good example than follow a bad one”. (The writings of Thomas Jefferson 1853-1854 edited by H.A. Washington)
Thank you, ED BACA
Sunday, December 7, 2014
TRY A LITTLE KINDNESS
THAT IS EXACTLY WHAT ST. GEORGE POLICE OFFICER
HECTOR DOMINGUEZ AND RUDY GRACIA DID WHEN MEETING WITH MEMBERS OF THE HISPANIC COMMUNITY
My friends and neighbors I began preparing for Thursdays December 4th city council meeting by going to Church on Tuesday….. In my efforts to monitor and report to you the application of city resources I found my way to the Catholic Church who was co-hosting with SGPD an, event entitled “Together United” intended to recognize the needs and concerns of The Hispanic Community…..And most importantly to provide a vehicle for ongoing communications between a minority group and city government…..In this case the Hispanic community of St. George and Washington County. (The first in a series of planned meetings)
It is important to note that while many of us may be inclined to conclude that this specific interaction between City Government and Hispanic’s is part and parcel of the long standing Immigration Issue confronting our nation…..For the purpose of limiting discussion to the extension of KINDNESS expressed and extended by members of SGPD to a segment of our population found to be in need……I will zero in on SGPD sanctioned and approved efforts to bring to you…..What is meant by the term…..To Protect and Serve…..And in doing so contrast what the Thin Blue Lines does here…..Thus providing a response to the loud outcry taking place in major U.S. cities condemning all Police Officers as profiling racists. This is simply not true…..Especially here in St. George, Utah.
To do this, I thought it important to ascertain the level of commitment being made by City Hall in acknowledging and understanding the complexity of responsibility we have for each human being that resides in St. George…..Irrespective of race, color or creed. For you see, there are, deep roots entwined in every facet of our daily lives involving a minority of one sort or another…..Those implanted years past and that continue to grow to this very day….. Creating the multi-colored facets of what we know to be The City of St. George.
Upon arrival at the Catholic Church I was not sure what to expect from City Government as I have grown weary in my expectations that one day, City Manager Esplin, would recognize the importance of establishing a formal structure…..Which I call a Human Relations Commission…..Designed to establish ongoing communications and interaction with all segments of the community that will of course include a place at the table for minorities.
This rainy night I expected to see and hear yet another Dog and Pony Show orchestrated by city government. I failed to see or recognize anyone representing the upper echelons from City Hall…..Instead I was met at the door by two smiling faces who identified themselves as Officer Hector Dominguez and Officer Rudy Gracia. I was warmly welcomed and spoken to in Spanish which caused me to be embarrassed as my Spanish language skills are lacking.
My friends, I have learned over the last twelve years of monitoring City Government that nothing takes place, unless and until, the City Manager endorses or approves of it. I was surprised and disappointed not to seeing anyone from City Hall signifying his stamp of approval. I asked of the officers if the hierarchy of the police department had arranged or approved of this meeting. I was informed that they had been encouraged and provided with resources to reach out to the Hispanic community. At the December 4th council meeting I had occasion to speak to Chief of Police Stratton on this matter and learned that this act of service was the brain child of these two officers. Chief Stratton stated that he was extremely proud of Officer Dominguez and Gracia. The character of these individual officers helps the community to know the quality of men and women who serve on SGPD.
I was pleased to learn that this meeting was a result of the innovative actions of two Kind and Caring Police Officers…..Who in the course of their duties identified a need…..And Chose to Act…..In the service of their fellow man. It was heartwarming to learn that these two officers had unselfishly given of their time by appearing on their day off from work to provide a service to those unable to speak fluent English…..And desired to assimilate into the main body of the community by better understanding laws that regulate accepted conduct. It put me in mind of the book “The Diary of Anne Frank”. It described a girl, who along with her family were forced to hide and remain out of the mainstream of society for fear of discovery by the Gestapo. Imagine the daily agony experienced.
As I looked upon the faces of nearly 200 men, women and children filling this meeting room I could not help but compare this gathering of minorities to that taking place in other parts of our nation in which police are castigated and attacked as uncaring predators intent on inflicting injury to minorities. This does not represent the City of St. George or the men and women of SGPD.
Having highlighted the role of the Catholic Church in this article I will leave you with a quote from President Thomas S. Monson, “It is impossible to stand upright when one plants his roots in shifting sands of popular opinion and approval… We will all face fear, experience ridicule, and meet opposition. Let us ----all of us ---- have the courage to stand for principle.” President Thomas S. Monson, Be Strong and of a Good Courage” Ensign, May 2014, 68-69.
Thank you, ED BACA
Friday, November 28, 2014
CONTRAST OF TWO CITIES - VALUES AND OBEDIANCE TO LAW
FERGUSON BURNS–(Edmund Burke “Among a people generally corrupt, Liberty cannot long exist”)
ST. GEORGE STONEWALLS AND WAITS-(Edmund Burke “It is not what a lawyer tells me I may do; but what humanity, reason, and justice, tell me I ought to do”)
FOOD FOR THOUGHT-(Elder D. Todd Christofferson “As a consequence of being perfectly just, there are some things God cannot do. He cannot be arbitrary in saving some and banishing others. (He “cannot look upon sin with the least degree of allowance.” D & C 1:31) (He cannot allow mercy to rob justice.” Alma 42:25) Ensign General Conference November 2014
My friends, November 27th City Council Meeting was cancelled. Local and national news is dominated with reports of Rioting and Burning of Ferguson City, Mo. Spectrum Reporter, David DeMill has front page story…..Grand Jury Decision Has Sweeping Effect…..Riots, rallies follow Ferguson officer’s lack of indictment…..Center of front page dated 11-26-14 is photo of a group of “Mostly White Students” gathered together with a sign placed in the middle of them declaring “Wake Up America”. Caption below photo reads…..Students rally at the University of Minnesota to protest police brutality, Tuesday in Minneapolis, following Monday’s announcement that a grand jury has decided not to indict Ferguson, Mo. Police officer Darren Wilson in the shooting death of unarmed, Black 18-year old Michael Brown.
PERCEIVED INJUSTICE is just as damning and harmful as a proven miscarriage of justice as made evident in Ferguson, Mo. However great or small it cannot be swept under the rug and be thought not to exist.
In the absence of a City Council Meeting this week I thought this an opportune time to contrast how some citizens in Ferguson, Mo. are addressing Perceived Injustice….. As Compared to what is taking place right here in Saint George, Utah…..Where some citizens have joined together in filing a Class Action Law Suit naming the City as Defendant in what they Perceive to be an Injustice, (Abuse of authority and denial of 4th amendment rights.)
While the Lawful Taking of Life does not compare with Taking of Constitutional Rights, the denial or public airing of Perceived Injustice….. May be seen as the stepping stones that inevitably leads to the loss of liberty and equal protection under the law….Right here in St. George.
They had their day in court. Yet a segment of the population of Ferguson, Mo. refused to Accept Grand Jury Decision. They took the law into their own hands. Look at the havoc and destruction they have brought upon their community with unlawful behavior. This begs the question. Could this happen here? The citizens of Saint George chose to follow the law and they continue to wait, and wait mindful of delaying and obstructive tactics of the City. We know not if the issues raised in the class action law suit will ever see the light of day in a court room, where those involved may be called to answer allegations under oath?
What we do know is that the City of Saint George has listened to its lawyers and has attempted to delay and I believe prevent a public trial in hopes of concealing or accepting responsibility for any wrong doing. (At least in Ferguson they brought matter to Grand Jury.)
We know that the appearance of double standards exist in the application of the law as brought forth in allegations made against Councilman Almquist.
We know that the City Attorney may decide not to prosecute certain cases and can and has declared a conflict of interest…..In my opinion giving priority to protecting City Council Members. My friends they are elected or hired to take care of the public NOT each other.
How the citizens of Saint George address Perceived Injustice may thankfully differ from unlawful action taken by citizens of Ferguson, Mo. I pray that this will always be the case. The concern I wish to share with you is that we appear to have a Do Nothing Council when it comes to Law Enforcement and City Ordinance. Edmund Burke “The only thing necessary for triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” The City of Saint George remains publicly silent and Reform of Code Enforcement and Ordinances appears abandoned by skittish City Council. I leave you with one last quote from Edmund Burke. “Nothing turns out to be so oppressive and unjust as a feeble government”.
Thank you, ED BACA
Sunday, November 23, 2014
CITY EXPRESSES GRATITUDE WITH HUMILITY AS THANKSGIVING DAY APPROACHES
November 20th City Council Meeting ushered in the beginning of the holiday season with bit of fanfare…..Affectionately recognizing students representing 5 local Intermediate Schools, who traveled to our sister city of 26 years, Ibigawa, Japan. We as a community were able to acknowledge the building blocks that led to the development of children with values reflecting love and compassion for their neighbors. Mr. & Mrs. Erin Langston were able to follow along with the audience as their daughter, Tristin ran through a litany of experiences that broadened the education of students. It also gave testimony to Family Values which serve as the bedrock of our community. We were able to experience the joy felt by the children of Ibigawa and St. George that brought us closer to the realization of what it means to Love Thy Neighbor. (Dallin H. Oaks “Surely we can teach our children values and standards of behavior without having them distance themselves or show disrespect to any who are different”).
Yes indeed we have a lot to be grateful for. In spite of the dangers we find our nation experiencing in these times of deceit and distrust…..We can take comfort in the knowledge, that however imperfect we may find our national and city government…..There remains a Podium…..A rainbow of brightness over our city bringing with it…..Hope of improved prosperity and transparency…..Enabling citizens to participate in the democratic process that protects the Republic for which we stand in respect.
This Council Meeting revealed a token of respect when Mayor Pike presented 13 names of individuals to serve on an Active Transportation Commission…..Providing oversight to elements of mass transit. An Ad-Hoc Committee to help in planning transportation needs.
Transparency was further advanced with the announcement by Mayor Pike that upon return from thanksgiving holiday (December 4th), he will submit the names of individuals to serve on City Airport Board that will, upon approval of City Council be called to serve.
My friends, I cannot over emphasize the importance of the creation of a City Airport Board. It stands as monumental achievement over those powerful forces in city government who have worked relentlessly to limit to a select few the running of city affairs to the detriment of our large and growing city with diverse views and values. This I believe is a Big Step towards securing our freedom as citizens of St. George. The City does not belong to a select few who view themselves as the Elite and tenured few…..But to all of us who call St. George home. These efforts for improved Transparency are viewed as positive steps in that public awareness is sure to be advanced. I for one am personally grateful to see and hear Mayor Pike take steps to keep “Promises Made” during his election campaign and look forward to continued efforts in this regard as it pertains to a Human Relations Commission, Reform of Code Enforcement and Ordinances…..Still left wanting for improvement of City Government.
Acting as the Neighborhood Redevelopment Agency…..The Council approved a tax incentive agreement with Viracon, Glass Manufacturer that will bring 220 full time jobs to our local workforce. 57 acres will be added to Ft. Pierce Industrial Park which will have 3 buildings on site. This will allow site to create new business by providing incentive to capture taxes. Industrial Brush is expected to hire 23 and Environmental Stonework’s up to 50 new employees.
Firehouse Subs Public Foundation (Great sandwich’s) was given approval to receive granted funds which will be supportive of City Fire Department. As I recall our local Firehouse Sub’s was recently granted $15,000 to be used in this worthwhile effort. Fire Chief Stoker expressed his appreciation on behalf of Fire Fighters.
This is but a few of the many items we as a City have reason to be grateful and feel blessed to have received. May you each enjoy this coming Thanksgiving Day.
Thank you, ED BACA
Monday, November 17, 2014
BETTE ARIAL - IRON LADY STANDS TALL
CALLS UPON FELLOW COUNCIL MEMBERS TO BUILD AMBULANCE ORDINANCE UPON A ROCK - A SURE FOUNDATION WHEREON PUBLIC SAFETY IS PROTECTED FROM THE MIGHTY WINDS OF PRIVATE BUSINESS
November 13th Council Meeting began in Administrative Conference Room where a young man sat next to his Mother/Home Teacher. I was fortunate to be seated on his immediate left and able to take the measure of this young man named Dillon Alexander. He was dressed in a suit, white shirt and tie, displaying a quiet, respectful demeanor. I learned that in support of his ongoing education, Dillon had been invited by Mayor Pike to address the Council and follow up with a question. Dillon stated that he had an interest in the birth of our nation and founding fathers. He identified his favorite as being Thomas Jefferson and how he served as the voice of the people.Dillon’s question concerned Federal, State and Local government and how each branch served to protect citizens and the Constitution of the United States. Mayor Pike assigned each council person to speak on one of the identified forms of government. To their credit each was able to provide a satisfying explanation as to how government functioned. Dillon having been edified left followed by a very proud looking mother. (Councilwoman Arial, Area Representative for U.S. Senator Mike Lee presented Dillon with a flag that had been flown over the Capital Building in recognition of his scholarly accomplishments).
I may have been mistaken but I thought I heard the City Manager and City Attorney sigh with relief when they had not been asked a question by Dillon on how they chose to enforce City Ordinance’s. Perhaps it was wishful thinking on my part that he had done so. I did hear a small voice whisper to me…..Now Ed, ease up on them after all they still have to consider approval of an ordinance setting standards for Ambulance Service in the city…..AND consider approval of an agreement for dispatch and ambulance services with Gold Cross Services, Inc.Dillon, had innocently raised the issue of Protecting the People at this time and place, seemed to me a divine intervention. Arriving at the precise time the People’s Public Safety was on the line in the form of Ambulance Service. The interest being so great on this issue the meeting was moved from the Conference Room to City Council Chambers. As the body of people entered the Council Chambers they joined others already seated. I noted State Senator Steve Urquhart serving as the High Powered Influential Attorney for Gold Cross Ambulance seated and waiting with Mike Moffitt, Chief Honcho of Gold Cross. His counterpart, City Attorney, Shawn Guzman Defender and Protector of City Elected Officials first and foremost (I believe protecting the Council comes before protecting the Public’s interest) was a late arrival followed by the Council. I fully expected Mayor Pike and his right-hand man, Councilman Almquist to find a way to voice their support for Private Business Interest and by extension Gold Cross Ambulance. I don’t think I am speaking out of turn by describing both as strong supporters of the free market system and individuals well acquainted with State Senator Urquhart. (Councilman Almquist serves as Mayor Pro-tem in the absence of Mayor Pike and they appear to be closely aligned on all issues).
Ergo the timidity and delay in getting an agreement and ambulance ordinance passed, as evident by the fact that it has taken almost two years to get to this position.
This agenda item appeared slow to move forward and somewhat cumbersome. All the players in position, Mayor Pike called the meeting to order. It was acknowledged that Attorney Steve Urquhart had met with City Staff and all issues and concerns presented in earlier public meeting had been thoroughly reviewed, discussed and hashed out to a point where both parties agreed to the final wording of the nuts and bolts of proposed agreement and ordinance.
It was agreed that City is solely empowered to dispatch ALL Emergency 911 Calls. Any disagreement that may have existed concerning dispatching of None Emergency Calls was finally resolved in favor of the City Dispatching ALL calls for service. (Excluded were calls from hospital inter-change – Out of area calls from different part of State). Wording that is to appear on the Agreement with Gold Cross and Wording on City Ordinance was resolved.
My friends, I believe it is important for you to know…..Without the strong and unyielding determination displayed by Councilwoman Arial…..Demanding the Public be given top priority in WHO is to Dispatch and WHAT wording is to appear on Agreement and Ordinance…..Public Interest….. May very well, have been, watered down by those lacking the WILL and COURAGE to resist peer pressure intended to favor private business interest.
I therefore have dubbed Councilwoman Arial as the Iron Lady of St. George…..Closely supported by Councilwoman Randall. The women on the Council were the stalwarts and as young Dillon alluded to, “The Voice of the People”. KUDOS to both.
To a lesser degree Councilman Bowcutt and Hughes made meaningful contributions. Mayor Pike and Councilman Almquist appeared to serve as traffic cops pointing out items to be considered and logically applied. (I believe they knew when to pull their horns in on a hot issue).
I would be remiss not to mention the fact that Attorney, Steve Urquhart and Gold Cross President, Mike Moffitt, were for the most part silent throughout this final process. Mr. Moffitt proved to be cooperative and willing to work with the City in a spirit of harmony and cooperation…..Committed to providing a high level of service to the citizens of St. George and surrounding communities.
Thank you. ED BACA
Sunday, November 9, 2014
I CAN’T DANCE DON’T ASK ME IN ST. GEORGE YOU CAN ASK AND YOU CAN DANCE
PUBLIC PLACES REQUIRE A PERMIT FOR HEALTH AND SAFTEY REASONS
SCHOOLS AND CHURCHES ARE EXEMPT ANOTHER CASE MADE FOR CODE ENFORCEMENT REFORM
November 6th City Council Meeting brought forth the bad rap the City received from members of the community that even extended to Saturday Night Live television show concerning Public Dancing. It put into focus the statement made by former city councilman, Randy Wilkinson who was in attendance during public presentations and patiently waited to present his request for changes to his Mixed Use enterprise…….Randy looked at the council….. Commiserating with what the Council has to endure simply said, “I feel Blessed not to be on the council”. It made me chuckle and the council warmed to the thought that someone felt their pain. By the way Randy’s request to modify the plans on Joule Plaza was approved and hopefully we will soon see a ground breaking event.
Tiffany Barnes, standing before the council with a large contingent of supporters seated behind her (Not all youth. Included a tinge of Older Folks) got right to the point. Tiffany’s emotions caused her voice to break and eyes to tear up as she explained she represented city dancers…..to state their case…..”Remove any need for permits for dancing”. I took it as a plea to Council, Say It Isn’t So (We can Dance in City of St. George) and the Council replied…..You Can Dance in Saint George”. Tiffany acknowledged Money and Breach of the Peace issues…..Explained Dancers were seeking answers and questioning the FRIVOLOUS city regulations. Tiffany stated…..Certain Rights were being violated…..Right to Assemble…..Freedom of Expression…..Leading to a waste of Tax Dollars to enforce regulations that caused her group to essentially lose the vision on how to retain a sustainable dance experience for all youth. Tiffany solicited Council to present their reasons for restricting dancing…… Suggesting that their concerns could be tabled to allow them to come up with solutions to Council input. (Human Relations Commission Needed). We are no longer just an LDS community. We are diversified and need to listen and pay attention to all concerns.
Councilman Almquist acting as Mayor Pro-tem informed Tiffany and her following that the City does not have an Ordinance against dancing. Permits are required. Dancers replied “We should not have to jump through hoops to dance”….. “We should not be told we can’t dance”. I was encouraged to hear Councilman Almquist is knowledgeable on City Ordinances. (Some Readers may be heard to say)……Why is he picking on my Stake President? Let me say, I am not…..However, I am holding My City Councilman…..Who happens to hold the office of Stake President accountable for his actions. I wish to hear his stated position on Code Enforcement and how he and the City should conduct themselves when implementing and enforcing city ordinances. The Dance Issue serves to substantiate public confusion created by vague and ambiguous City Ordinances….. Without applying tacit admission of neglect or wrong doing on the part of citizens or city…..Highlighted is the need for the city to stop dodging the issue of Code Enforcement Reform. “Houston We Have a Problem”. Perhaps we should ask NASA to help solve our Code Enforcement Problem. We can’t continue to go about denying a Problem Exists on how City Ordinances are perceived and misunderstood. Mayor Pike promised that a review of ALL city ordinances would be conducted and his promise was supported by present Council Members. They need to stand up and be counted and do what is right for the people of Saint George and those that do business here.
Now if this is not enough on City Ordinances….. The second segment of Comments from the Public urged the Council to adopt an ordinance intended to protect the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender community from discrimination. Matthew Jacobson stood before the Council…..And stated, I was Born and Bred in St. George and I am part of the Arts Community…..My Roots Run Deep and, I am Gay. Matthew’s mother was present and she was to stand next to her son during his presentation…..However, it was not to be as his mother received a phone call from the Hospital where she is scheduled to have surgery tomorrow morning requiring that she be excused. All could feel the love between mother and son. Matthew’s presentation contained statistics and his personal experience of discrimination…..Having lost his job when employer learned that he was Gay. Matthew asked Council to follow example of the LDS Church. Light the Way to Fair Treatment. Matthew ended saying, think of “How well we perform not just who we love”.
Patricia Kent, past candidate for City Council addressed the Council stating she was 63 years of age and has worked in many capacities. She has experienced Race Discrimination, Gender and other forms. Patricia’s opposed the request made by Matthew and LGBT…..Citing that the Constitution protects all of us, inclusive of race and gender issues and property rights. Patricia opined that City does not need an Anti- Discrimination Ordinance that will discriminate against Employers. Patricia softened her remarks saying her family includes homosexuals. “I do not support their life style”. They are pushing their life style on us, the majority. Laws of the land exist…..Follow them, this is their recourse. Side Note: State Senator Steve Urquhart, Attorney representing Gold Cross Ambulance delayed implementation of City Ambulance Ordinance by questioning wisdom of City Government Infringing on Private Business. As State Senator he placed before State Law Makers….. Anti-Discrimination Bill protecting LGBT Community….. It appears Steve deems it OK to infringe on Private Business in one regard but not on another. Can it be, when it concerns client, Gold Cross Ambulance, government should be restricted? I can’t help but wonder why and who in City Government supports him at expense of Public Safety. Thank you, ED BACA.
Monday, November 3, 2014
STATE EXCLUSIVELY LICENSES AMBULANCE PROVIDER AND BY AGREEMENT CITY AND AMBULANCE COMPANY CAN GO WHEREVER THEY WANT TO FASHION CITY ORDINANCE
October 30th City Council meeting had ONE item on the agenda. The task at hand was for the City to work constructively with the Gold Cross Ambulance to set standards for ambulance services in the city. It doesn’t seem too difficult since both parties worked for nearly two years to do so. The State of Utah picked Gold Cross Ambulance to service the City of Saint George thus putting to bed the turmoil of two years past when Dixie Ambulance was called to task for alleged inefficiencies……ultimately ending with the closing of Dixie Ambulance and unfortunate bankruptcy proceedings.
I feel it important to mention this as I believe the City contributed to the demise of said business…..If not intentionally…..Surely for lack of attention or failure to recognize a call for relief and or assistance. Once the State of Utah was pressed to act upon reported concerns it was, in my opinion, too late for the City to act in a responsible way. Staying true to form those in a position to have done something meaningful ran for cover. A pitiful excuse was offered that it was the State of Utah’s responsibility to oversee and enforce laws regulating ambulance service. It reminded me of an old song “I didn’t know the gun was loaded”, and I’m so sorry my friend.
Regardless of the reasons or causes for the failure of Dixie Ambulance the end result is the same. It is dead and gone never to return. The City has thus been presented with a golden opportunity to amend perceived inaction and to create a new and improved ordinance that will protect citizens. As I looked upon the determined faces of Mayor and Council I was impressed to study the face of City Manager Esplin, who appeared silent/subdued yet attentive. Not until the end did he speak leading council out of quagmire of inaction.
And so it began…..The strokes of good intentions paving the way to consider amending Title 3, Chapter 2, Article F: Setting standards for Ambulance Service in the city. The spotlight was placed on City Attorney, Shawn Guzman who proceeded to walk us through each and every aspect of the proposed amendment. I must say that he did an admirable job of conveying 18 months of work that presented the intentions of the city to protect citizens……Putting into words for all to see a level of oversight and accountability previously found lacking. I thought it to be a step in the right direction…..Especially in light of the City’s reluctance to discuss or admit to the need for Code Enforcement Reform. In my mind’s eye I could see the Mayor and City Attorney digging their heels into the ground not wanting the public to see or hear any connection with the fact that Code Enforcement Reform is in play and certainly wished to avoid any semblance of appearance that City is admitting the need for improvement, thus weakening their defense in fighting allegations put forth in the Class Action Lawsuit filed against the City. (Sir Walter Scott, “Oh, what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive). The proposed ordinance having been summarized, Mayor Pike called upon each Council Member to submit clarification questions or to provide salient comments. Councilman Bowcutt asked about number of ambulances required to be in compliance with State Standards and duty of local government in establishing standards. Councilman Hughes asked about Local Law having precedence over State Law, prompting Fire Chief Stoker to state that the City can be more restrictive but not less restrictive than State Law. Councilwoman Randall initially stated that she had nothing for now, but latter stated that what was written a year and a-half ago “I had no part in writing what was under way before I got involved.” I was left with impression that Randall wanted to avoid any appearance of bias especially as she had been owner of Dixie Ambulance. Latter in response to Gold Cross Attorney, Steve Urquhart…..Randall stated “I am not sure you have found anything you agree with” and referring to Gold Cross dispatching its own calls, “We can’t have that….. Salt Lake City dispatching….. Where is ambulance?” Referring to number of available ambulances and calls for service, Randall stated “Population has not dwindled and it is not resolved, where you are (Ambulance) and each private call you are at. Like it or not I believe Randall is clearly, emotionally involved with issue of regulating Ambulance Service. Understandably so…..I believe Randall is knowledgeable in the field of Ambulance Service and can effectively contribute to the process…..If she is not predisposed to denying the “By Agreement” clause referred to in State Law. I fear that Randall may have inadvertently revealed that she has already decided against Gold Cross dispatching their own private calls for service no matter what may be said to mitigate the difference between “Emergency 9ll Calls” and Private Non-Emergency Calls.
Gold Cross Attorney, Steve Urquhart presented the fact that this was the first time he and his client had met with the council and suggested State Law had not been complied with in that the ordinance had to be adopted By Agreement of both Parties. Mr. Urquhart stated the law must be adhered to. There then was a mixing of Apples and Oranges when attempting to separate and identify the difference between Emergency Calls (Apples) and Non-Emergency Calls (Oranges)…..Further complicated by inserting the need to not infringe on Private Business (Folks, follow the money-Private Calls). The Mayor said to the Council “We are all Business People. Mayor Pike invited Gary Stone, operations manager, Intermountain Healthcare at Dixie Regional Medical Center (Who also employees Mayor) to share his expertise as it relates to Business and Ambulance Service (Great contribution). To clarify a Private Call for service (NO Red Lights or Siren) may unexpectedly become an Emergency Call (Requiring Red Lights and Siren.) Dispatch has responsibility to direct emergency units running with Red Lights and Siren to prevent collisions of units utilizing the same space believing they have unimpeded access to intersections and roadway. The infringement of Private Business Interests having been made I will take the liberty to speak on behalf of Dispatch and state unequivocally that Protection of Life and Property should always take precedence over Private Business ventures. Thank you, ED BACA