Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Erica Gilmore's valiant attempt to oppose Mayor Dean's slashing of Metro Parks last summer

Since tomorrow is Parks Director Roy Wilson's last day, I thought I would turn the clock back to last May when Mr. Wilson made his budget appeals to Metro Council in the face of Mayor Karl Dean's plan to cut over 50 Parks employees, effectively eroding public services to the quality of life in our hyper-local communities. While no great fan of Roy Wilson's leadership over the years, it struck me that his resignation from his position was leveraged at the Courthouse and in the local media in spite of the arbitrary double standards various Metro departments seem held to.

However, I don't want to use Mr. Wilson's departure to showcase his presentation in the video footage of those wrenching budget decisions. Instead, I want to underscore the performance of my CM, Erica Gilmore, who after Roy Wilson spoke, represented her constituents admirably as she publicly opposed the Finance Director and Mayor's plans to dissect and discard local services:
Gilmore: How many people have we laid off across the city-wide?

[Rich] Riebeling: It is a work in progress. My guess is that will end up being less than 100.

Gilmore: Under 100, and you have 89 coming from the parks?

Riebeling: No, that's not right. You have 52 coming from parks.

Gilmore: Okay. 52 coming from parks and how many coming from librar--

Riebeling: A number -- and I add a number of those are probably part time positions. [To Roy Wilson] Is that correct?

Wilson: Several of them are part time positions.

Gilmore: Okay. 52 coming from the parks and how many came from the library?

Riebeling: I believe she said, "9."

Gilmore: Okay. 9 from the library and then how many come from Public Works?

Riebeling: Can't remember off the top of my head, but about a-half-a-dozen, less than 10.

Gilmore: Okay. It seems like a great percentage are coming from Parks and Recreation, and it seems like if it's something that benefits the constituents--I really feel like this is something that benefits kids, and especially in the summertime I'm really concerned, because we always talk about crime, and we know that this is a way that kids go out and play, and they get access to free programs and they're able to get help. I even went to something last week where the kids had a double-dutch something for the first time and they held it at our parks. I would just hate to see us do that, especially when we talk about senior citizens ... so, I would just like to express that I really am concerned that such a great percentage is coming from the Parks ... I think we can do a better job.

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