The following was submitted by Brentwood resident and East Contra Costa Fire Protection District Director Steve Smith.
During the Month of June, the East Contra Costa Fire Protection District (ECCFPD) held four Public Meetings, each in a different area of the District. While the meetings were lightly attended, each was video recorded, and the videos are available on the District Website, so that many more can view them. At each meeting, Fire Chief Helmick gave a 45-minute presentation on the state of the District, followed by an hour-long Question and Answer session. The District has laid out the situation fairly and accurately, with much background material available on the District Website. In July, a single session will be held to begin engaging the public in the development of the ECCFPD Strategic Plan to remedy the crisis level of underservice in the District.
Then there is the Reallocation Gang. They have seized upon an accident of History, and claim their program can easily rectify it.
Editors Note – “Reallocation Gang” is Mr. Smiths name for the East County Voters For Equal Protection (ECV).
This group seeks to pressure all the entities that share in the 1% property tax to give up a portion of their funding to the District. This means the County, the Cities of Brentwood and Oakley, the Community Service Districts, the School Districts, and various other organizations serving the public. All have refused, due to their own budgetary pressures, and there are formidable legal requirements that make it very difficult for them to do so. The Reallocation Gang claims this is mere willfulness on the part of local Elected Officials.
In addition to engaging with the Public, the District has—for the first time—been engaged at the State Level. Fire Chief Helmick and several Board Members (including myself) have been to Sacramento and talked with local Legislators, Legislative Leaders, and the Governor’s Office. We have told our story, and have experienced the tremendous resistance at the State Level to any notion of reallocation.
We are thus well-versed in the legal and political hurdles at both the State and Local levels.
Meanwhile, the Reallocation Gang persists in their tactics. The have asked the Fire District to declare a moratorium on new construction—we have no legal authority to do so. They have asked the Fire District to declare a State of Emergency—we have no legal authority do so. They have asked the District to place an Advisory Measure on the Ballot. I, for one, am not inclined to spend $200K of public funds on a meaningless, feel-good measure. If they want an election measure, they are free to file an Initiative position and seek signatures.
More to the point: if the Reallocation Gang wishes to force the issue within the other Districts, their members should file for election to the governing bodies of those Districts. Then run on that platform.
The filing period for the November Election extends through August 10th.
Brentwood Resident & ECCFPD Director
Title provided for identification purposes only