Monday, June 18, 2007

Mailbag

A few recent emails that deserved attention:

Tony from Munroe Falls writes, “I recently read that, upon retiring, James McCarthy will receive 91 percent of his current salary AND health care benefits. I am curious to know what happens if he decides to run again for another office. Will he continue to get this extremely generous retirement benefit as well as the salary for the elected office, should he win? I suspect he will.”

Tony, I’m not sure, but my experience with public employees is that as long as he doesn’t take a job with a county agency, he’ll collect his pension from the county as scheduled. I’ve seen quite a few county employees retire and take municipal jobs and vice-versa. For example, Drew Alexander retired from Akron Police with a pension and then went to work as Sheriff. It’s my understanding that he and others in this same position get to ‘double-dip.’

Cindy tells me about yet another major obstacle in the state’s child support system. “My husband’s child support is deducted from his paycheck on the 15th and the 30th. They allow no time for the money to reach them at the end of the month. Therefore, if your payment isn’t there by the last day of the month, they send you a letter telling you that you are in arrears. If you get paid in this method, you will always be in arrears. I have a stack of these letters. I called and told them we are not behind, it’s their system, but they didn’t care. “

Cindy, thanks for the note. Since my series of child support stories began in February, I have received quite a few emails detailing problems with the system. Cindy, your dilemma amazes me. Thousands of people are paid twice per month (15th and 30th) so your husband can’t be the only one getting threatening letters about being behind on child support when it’s not his fault. If true, the folks running CSEA are wasting time, $$, and resources. Let me mention this issue to some folks in a few county offices and see where it goes.

Jennifer from Akron dropped me a line following our severe weather on June 8th. She was more-than-a-bit concerned that the City of Akron does not have a siren warning system and instead uses its fire truck sirens. Jennifer wrote, “MAY I ask WHAT!!!!!--- (Would you really be outside to listen for a fire truck...???) Number 2 WHAT IF Akron residents don’t live near by FIRE STATION?? Number 3 How safe is that to our Firemen and/ or Family members to be out in tornado like weather... Number 4 RESIDENTS who DON'T hear warnings THEY WOULD END UP INJURIED OR WORST CASE DEAD! LASTLY---- Every time during a nice size storm rolls in EVERYONE IS AKRON will hit the basement.”

Jennifer, I sent your concerns up the city hall food chain and latched on to the following email response from a senior Akron Fire Department officer: “According to AFD operational bulletin. Once a tornado watch is issued to all fire companies, they are to observe the storm front and notify dispatch if a tornado is sighted. The tornado watch now becomes a tornado warning. According to our dispatch center at no time were they ever notified about a sighting by anyone. (A dispatcher) did state that a warning was issued for he believes the Lodi area. Dispatch was watching the weather radar and listening to their weather radio in the center.” As for Akron’s warning system, the AFD officer wrote, “we pull our fire apparatus out on the apron of the station and sound the sirens at the highest pitch for 45 seconds and do this intermittently for 5 minutes…We would only activate our warning system if we received info from NAWAS or someone called and said a tornado was sighted.”

I still need to follow up with AFD, but I can’t understand how dispatchers wouldn’t have known Summit County was under a Tornado Warning that afternoon. All of the news outlets were doing wall-to-wall coverage until the warning expired. As for Akron’s choice to use the fire sirens in lieu of a tower system, we’ve covered that argument in the past. As I recall, city leaders found it difficult to install enough tower sirens that would cover the entire city. They felt the spacing of the fire stations would do the job. My issue with it all is that fire fighters aren’t told to activate their sirens until someone actually sees a tornado. That sounds risky. The suburbs tend to use their systems when a warning is issued that includes their cities. It’s a great subject for debate.

3 comments:

Jimmy said...

For information about child support and child support enforcement, see The Child Support Web at http://www/childsupportweb.com

Anonymous said...

it's only "double dipping" if its from the same source. in defense of my father who retired from the city and worked for the county...but the pension he received was all the money that he put in for 30 or so years (8%) and they matched him in appreciation! its a very small "perk" of a not-so-glamorous job (he also retired from the county-which shows how much public service he has put in, helping people when they needed it and locking the ones up who didn't want it!) I know you know all this, and it wasn't intended to be a "correction" or rude, just an afterthought in my ever after- thinking brain!

CAK757 said...

i am for installing an outdoor warning system, thats the name of a siren system, they are called outdoor warning sirens for a reason, they are mostly meant to be heard outside in areas like parks and shopping centers, if you live near on where you can hear it inside your house, then thats a plus.

the thing is, warning sirens are expensive to purchase, install, and maintain, the best places for them would be near major shopping centers and parks.

but for now, as most news stations recommend, go get a $10-$20 weather radio from Radio Shack or any other fine electronics store