Thursday, March 15, 2007

By The Sea Times News Flash

The following are excerpts from a By The Sea Times article dated March 14, 2007, along with corrections and clarifications regarding the reporting in the story.

"...At last nights commission meeting we were introduced to LBTS’s new BSO fire chief, (the old one, Chief Fraley after making a mess of things left for Weston)...."

CLARIFICATION: The contract between BSO and Lauderdale-By-The-Sea never did include the assignment of a Battalion Chief, and in fact the Town does not cover the cost of a Battalion Chief assigned there. Never-the-less, BSO Fire Rescue assigned Chief John Frailey to LBTS because of the safety problems created by the paid volunteer department. Because of the leadership he demonstrated while handling those safety issues, Chief Frailey is being promoted. Following Frailey's promotion, BSO Fire Rescue has decided to continue its commitment to the Town and keep the additional position in LBTS even though the Town does not cover the additional cost.

"...Jenne’s Broward Sheriff's Office tried to side slip into Deerfield’s public funds by first going under the voters’ radar by merging with the city's fire-rescue department and by leasing of Deerfield’s fire property."

CLARIFICATION: Every step in the process to pursue a possible merger with Deerfield Beach Fire Rescue was in the open. Sheriff Ken Jenne himself made the initial proposal at a public meeting. When Deerfield city officials first approached BSO about a merger, neither the City nor BSO was aware that the city's ordinance involving the lease of property would come into play. Following several public meetings it was determined by the Deerfield city attorney that the issue of leasing property to BSO would need to be put to public referendum. Once that determination was made, BSO waited for the voters to have that opportunity before resuming discussions.

"...Jenne’s regime has been spending tax payers’ money like a drunken sailor in efforts to have a Napoleonic takeover of all police and fire firefighting in Broward County."

CLARIFICATION: The Broward Sheriff's Office does not approach cities regarding providing any kind of services. BSO does not "pitch" itself to municipalities. Only after the leaders of a city express a desire to pursue a possible merger with the agency will BSO begin discussions. BSO does not make any profit from providing either law enforcment or fire rescue services to cities. It is up to the elected leaders in each city or town to determine what level of public safety services they want for their residents. Regarding the Deerfield referendum, public taxpayer money was not spent on efforts to influence voters on the issues.

"...The additional costs for BSO’s services would have cost homeowners in Deerfield an average around $82.00 per year."

CORRECTION: This is absolutely wrong. Based on the figures presented to the public and Deerfield Beach leaders at open meetings, BSO would have been able to provide more firefighters, an additional fire station, and a higher level of public safety to the city for less than it currently costs the city to provide fewer services. Any claim that a merger with BSO would have caused higher costs to taxpayers is simply not true. The $82.00 costs were associated with the other referendum items on the ballot (specifically items 1 and 2), but neither of those issues had any involvement with the ballot question dealing with BSO. Nor did those first two questions involve any kind of a merger with BSO.