Northwest NEWS

February 7, 2000


Callon's allegations are wrong

   I am responding to Mr. Callon's letter [Jan. 31, 2000 edition], which is full of half-truths and misinformation.

   First of all, I have yet to understand how four commissioners can constantly be wrong and only Mr. Callon be right. It appears to me the only obvious answer is a private and personal agenda by Mr. Callon.

   Those of us who have, over the years, taken the time to study and understand the Fire District know why and how things happen. Obviously, Mr. Callon has been too busy with his personal agenda to learn those things.

   It is true that Mr. Callon did not vote for the increase in the budget. He also chose not to attend any of the budget meetings, discussions, or study sessions so he would be informed as to what and why money was being spent.

   Firefighters work in 24-hour shifts, which means that while most of us are home with our families, they are not. I certainly have no objection to them watching TV between calls, and furthermore, in case you don't remember, satellite dishes are also for emergency communications. Satellites will operate when regular and local stations do not.

   We also expect firefighters to be in the physical condition to not only fight a fire but, when necessary, to remove a person from a critical situation. The exercise equipment Mr. Callon criticizes is part of maintaining their physical condition for their profession. We don't think twice of seminars or travel expenses for people who work in companies, and this expense is no different.

   The actual salary for the deputy chief is not the $100,000 he spoke of; in actuality, it is $78,000, and based on his long-term tenure with the district. Let's quote facts accurately.

   In knowing the inner operations of a Fire District, I believe that the deputy chief is a vital part of the organization. It is no different than trying to run a large business without a second in command. It has nothing to do with streamlining our district. The district is too big for that.

   That leads me to his phone line criticism. There are 11, of which 4 are for computers and alarm lines, and as many as 14-16 employees are in the office at any given time. This is the headquarters where we call for burn permits and questions, where the employees call for needs and information, where we have the training facility (where other districts also come to train with us), where we have a disaster center, computer equipment lines, and so on.

   We probably could have covered the cost of the district's budget increase (which is 8%, not 20%--a big difference) with what you, Mr. Callon, have cost the district in attorney's fees, the other commissioners' time, and the staff's time by distracting them from running a fire district.

   Anyone who knows me can attest to the fact that I have given this district over 15 years of my personal time for no personal gain. I understand the district's procedures, facts, and statistics, so I am not speaking off the top of my head.

   It is all public record. Yes, I agree in cutting taxes. But you also better know why and what you are cutting.

Mary Baum, Woodinville