R.T. Rybak, the man who spent $500,000 on 10 artistic drinking fountains, has now decided to lay off firefighters:

Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak said the city was hoping to avoid public safety cuts. But Rybak said when the state cut back on local government aid it forced the city to make a tough decision.

“I talked with a number of these guys and told them how much we want them back and if we have retirements that could happen. Public safety is very important, but every part of this city has to make due during a very tough time,” said Rybak.

Rybak said he is asking the city council for contingency money to soften the blow. But Mark Lakosky, president of the Minneapolis Firefighters union, said the city has already taken too much from the fire department over the years. He said the department has lost dozens of positions and he worries in some emergencies, the department could be out-manned and out-matched.

“It’s coming and I don’t want to be out front talking about how that rig didn’t get here for 10 minutes so I couldn’t get up to that fire and pull that family out of that fire because no one was there yet,” said Lakosky.

Rybak’s statement that “every part of this city has to make due during a very tough time” reads like an indictment. It’s totally, utterly shameful. Why would any chief executive, whether it’s the city, state or federal government, put its citizens at risk? That’s the first and most important responsibility of mayors, governors and presidents. If they fail that responsibility, they’ve totally failed.

According to this document, the biggest part of Minneapolis’s budget is the public works budget:

The Public Works Department makes up the largest part of the City’s budget (22.8 percent, $310.3 million). The main tasks of Public Works include the following: offering safe transportation to residents by maintaining streets, bike paths and sidewalks; offering high-quality drinking water to residents and visitors by managing the sewer and water system, and facilitating the collection and disposal of garbage and recycling.

First, is it possible to trim the street, bike path and sidewalk maintenance budgets to keep these firefighters employed? Next, approximately $35,000,000 is spent in the city coordinator’s office. Part of the city coordinator’s budget pays for communications. Here’s what that entails:

We tell the stories of Minneapolis City Government, gathering and distributing information to keep folks informed about city policies, programs, services and neighborhoods. If you want to watch your city leaders in action but can’t make it down to City Hall, we air City Council meetings on TV and stream them on the web. That City brochure or poster you’re looking at? We likely produced it. But we’re doing even much more behind-the-scenes. We’re always planning and collaborating with city leaders departments, and outside organizations to make sure that residents, businesses and visitors of Minneapolis understand what is happening in Minneapolis city government and how it affects their lives.

How much money could be trimmed from the communications section of the city coordinator’s office budget? Shouldn’t that budget be trimmed instead of laying off firefighters? Is R.T. Rybak putting a higher priority on the communications operation in the city coordinator’s office than he’s putting on firefighters? Shame on him if he is.

If that’s what he’s doing, he’s unfit for office. That can’t happen. Ever.

Putting people at risk to pay for lower priority items is first degree mismanagement and gross incompetence. Minneapolis residents are getting ripped off. Their property taxes are getting increased to pay for low priority budget items.

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10 Responses to “R.T. Rybak’s Budget Disaster”

  • Rex Newman says:

    This just in: Rybak found some money in a contingency account, avoiding the layoffs. But I’d still ask who’s paying for all those “Downtown Improvement Zone” patrols? We can afford them to watch your house burn down?

  • Gary Gross says:

    It’s all about setting intelligent priorities, isn’t it? We know who won’t set them, don’t we?

  • Karen says:

    Downtown Improvement Zone patrols are paid for by the Downtown Improvement District –not the city General Budget

  • Bob J. says:

    Liberals go straight for emergency services when they are forced to cut and then scream bloody murder. It’s all part of their playbook.

  • It’s absurd that “Raise Taxes” Rybak would rather let our buildings burn to the ground than cut funding for his precious patronage. We have legions of people in lime green vests wandering aimlessly through the downtown. We have clean bike paths and propaganda newsletters for every idiotic agency and neighborhood. But we can’t cut that. No, we need to keep his voters in beer and skittles. It’s disgusting and amoral.

  • Gary Gross says:

    Luke, Absurd is a good word for R.T.’s decisionmaking. The more I think about his decisionmaking, the more I think appalling is the right word for the situation.

  • Rex Newman says:

    Karen is correct, I found out the DID patrol is paid by the downtown businesses. Odd, though, that they have to do what Rybak should anyway. And one more time: Mpls total budget is around $1.3 billion. Police and fire together are around 20% of that. And the rest?

  • Gary Gross says:

    Rex, I found out that the biggest portion of Minneapolis’s budget is public works at 23% of their operating budget.

    Whether the patrol is paid for by the general fund budget or whoever, it’s still fact that the Minneapolis operating budget could use some substantial trimming.

  • Corey J. Sax says:

    This is the sloppiest hit piece, I think I’ve ever seen.

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