Garden Grove

Fast thinking isn’t always smart

AFTER NOV. 6, will we have plenty of this, or face a scary financial future? (Pexels photo).

“A good plan executed in time beats a perfect plan executed too late.” – Gen. George S. Patton.

“Act in haste, repent at leisure.” – William Congreve.

I am never the first person to taste a newly-concocted soup dish offered to me. Someone else may jam that spoon in their mouth and spit out the liquid violently. “It’s too hot!” he or she may say. “And it tastes awful!”

In my military days when we trained on clearing rooms in buildings that potentially sheltered bad guys, you never saw me first in. Discretion is the biggest part of my valor, such as it is.

Jim has always been very cautious, and it has kept my finger out of the pickle slicer. I don’t jump off the roof into the pool. I don’t eat ravioli from a can with a bulge (actually, you shouldn’t eat ravioli from a can, ever) and if you want me to join you on your initial bungee jump off the bridge, well, no thanks. I am very comfortable down here.

That, perhaps, makes me a dull fellow. Well, on one particular instance, we need the Garden Grove City Council to be dull folks, at least for another five or six weeks.

The issue de jour is whether the city should trade in its 92-year-old fire department for a contract with the Orange County Fire Authority. It’s been a bone of contention for months now, and endless meetings have been held, with bottomless financial arguments.

A city analyst says the move to OCFA would cost the city $14.5 million over 10 years; the firefighters union says, no, it would actually save $10 million. That’s a $24.5 million difference of opinion.

While I have my own opinion on what the right decision is, I have no useful insights into the math. I can add, subtract, multiply and divide – even without a calculator – but get any more complicated than that and my eyes glaze over.

Polynomials? Get outta town. And who, exactly, is this Cal Culus fellow?

But I can figure out the difference between black and red ink. At present, the city is dipping into reserves to balance the budget. Some people insist on believing that, yes, water runs down hill but it will never reach the bottom.

Well, that dipper will be scraping the bottom pretty soon if additional funding doesn’t appear. Measure O may be that cure.

Whether voters approve that 1-cent tax hike will decide a lot. If they do, then the city should have enough cash (an estimated $19 million a year) to upgrade the GGFD’s capabilities and even overlook some additional costs.

But if voters say no, “how many paramedics” may be the least of our problems.  Westminster flirted with bankruptcy in 2016 before their voters bailed the city out.

My point is this: deciding which way to go with fire and paramedic services before we know whether we’ll have enough money to turn on the lights in City Hall is folly.

You don’t buy a new car until you know whether you got the job. You don’t declare victory until the fat lady sings. And you don’t rush to judgment before all the facts – and public input – are in.

Remember the old joke about what the policeman said to the driver he pulled over for speeding? “Hey, Mac, where’s the fire?” There’s not one yet, but if the council isn’t willing to wait just a few weeks, we all could get burned.

Jim Tortolano’s Retorts appears on alternate Wednesdays. He does note that he can compute a batting average.

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