By Andrew Ysiano
When you or your family member calls 911, it’s expected that within minutes the police or fire department shows up to assist in your time of need. What would happen if, when that call is made, there was a busy signal or worse, an operator tells you that no one is available to respond? In a life or death situation, the end result could be well, deadly.
Look what happened in Josephine County, Oregon a year ago. The county government was forced to make cuts. The sheriff, trying to be helpful and honest, put out a press release warning victims of domestic violence to “consider relocating to an area with adequate law enforcement services.” Not long after, dispatch received an emergency call and transferred it to the State Police because there weren’t enough deputies to respond. The sheriff admits that unfortunately it’s common for victims of crime in his county to call 911 and not get a response.
None of us want that scenario to play out here in Stockton, but if these measures fail, no one will want to live here. We must pass Measures A and B because we have a moral obligation to take care of one another.
We need Measure A because it will put more than 120 police officers on the street, help us emerge from bankruptcy that much quicker, and provide for increased accountability and oversight. It will take effect in April 2014, and will increase the current sales tax from 8.25 percent to 9 percent. This will help raise about $300 million over 10 years.
Measure B is only advisory and tells the City how the Measure A money is spent; 65 percent would go to public safety and 35 percent to restore other services.
The City of Stockton recently released the long awaited Plan of Adjustment, which outlined in great detail, the revenues and expenditures the city will need to operate critical government services and recover from bankruptcy. The City has stated without Measure A more cuts will be made—$11 million to critical government services including police, fire, libraries and parks. And our ability to recover from bankruptcy won’t take years, but decades.
The city’s bankruptcy was shameful, embarrassing and it should never have happened. Trying to find someone to blame, or delaying our recovery will not resolve the city’s financial situation. In fact, our troubles will only get worse.
If more cuts are made and police, fire and emergency services are cut deeply, how will the city decide which residents get which services? How will the City decide winners and losers? Who gets an emergency response and who is left unaided?
The City should not have to be put in that position and neither should we. We can work together to keep Stockton streets safe. We can recover from this bankruptcy. We can and should have increased accountability and oversight.
We get there by passing Measures A and B. We get there by putting people first over politics.
Keeping the public safe is the primary responsibility of any government. I hope that we have not become numb to the headlines each day of the heroes who protect our community. They respond quickly to the crisis of the moment; fires, crimes committed against people and crimes against property. Violent crimes and medical emergencies, they stand ready to help.
We don’t need a government shutdown in Stockton.
Protect your home. Protect your family. Protect your neighbor. It’s time to protect people over politics by saying yes to Measures A and B.
Andrew Ysiano is the Founder-Publisher of the Latino Times and a supporter of Measures A and B.