Special to the newspaper
by Anna EspinozaÂ Â
CALEXICO â€” Hundreds of Calexico citizens showed their presence Wednesday evening during the city councilÂ meeting to advocate against the fire department’s layoffs and closing any fire station.
MarkÂ Donahue, a financial consultant hired by the Calexico Fire Department, analyzed and shared his findings of the cityâ€™s budget allocations. HeÂ began the meeting with a slide show presentation, in which he showcased economicÂ data from the past few years. He declared the city’s currently claimed financial crisis was invalid because of theÂ lack of financial receipts and documents which depict incomplete information of the cityâ€™s budget spending from the last 21Â months.
Therefore, he advocated the firefighters’ retention and the threatened layoff be repealed.
Many Calexico citizens voiced concerns about the townâ€™s public safety citing dangerous scenarios whichÂ could result as consequences to the closure of the fire department.
â€œWe are here as citizensÂ with fear, fear for our lives,â€ said Letty Vizcarra. â€œWe are here to urge, to plead, and demand thatÂ you [city council] reset the layoff notices to the six firefighters and paramedics. We demand thatÂ fire station number two on the far east side of Calexico remain open and operational.â€
Firefighters alleged the lay-offs were a result of their refusalÂ to take a 30 percent cut with the city of Calexico from their check.
â€œIf they were to take the cut, they would not lay off thoseÂ six [firemen],â€ said Maribel Padilla, Calexico resident.Â â€œThey would not close that station.â€
This claim was counter-argued by the people in defense of the firemen and their desire to keep all fire stations open.Â Citizens questioned the choice of the fire station closure as a means of restoring the decliningÂ finances of the city.
â€œClosing down station two is irresponsible and unwise,â€ argued Eva RosaÂ Rodriguez to the board members. â€œIâ€™m not insulting you or disrespecting you,â€ she explained.Â â€œIâ€™m just stating this as pure logic.â€
The City Council board members agreed to meet with the Heffernan Medical Board for potential fundingÂ assistance. This would possibly avoid the need of laying off the six firemen and closing any fireÂ station.