In a recent neighborhood visit to share voting information for my candidacy in the 1st Ward, I was informed that the word is going around that I want to privatize the workforce for city workers. This is completely false and I want to set the record straight. I am not making any accusation to whom it may have come from because I don't know. I was in an interview seeking candidate endorsement from an organization and a question was raised about issuing bonds for public services, long term, and taking on debt. I'm not a big fan of taking on an expense that you don't have the fiscal health and ability to pay off, short or longer term. In my response I used the Lockport Parks as an example, citing an infrastructure issue that has to be maintained no matter what human capital resources a municipality has to do this work.
We all realize that the staffing at the Highway and Parks Department has been shrinking for many years, yet the number of parks still remains at 27. We also know with a smaller staff, some traditional services may have to be scaled back. We know of those 27 parks, many smaller ones in neighborhoods, are more neglected as services are now targeted for youth and families to perhaps as little as five or six in our city system. We also know organizations like the Rotary and Sunrise Optimists among other organizations and volunteers have assisted in park improvements. Additionally, we know that volunteers support the Ida Fritz and Children's Memorial parks in the maintenance of flowers and the like to ensure they are well kept. These are part of the community network of support that municipalities might have to consider to maintain their infrastructure in light of fiscal difficulty and uncertainty, plain and simple, and within reason, mind you.
I was not speaking in reference to the police, firefighters or other organized union staff that I want to privatize the public workforce. If the city can afford to hire more workers and the need is there, I am all for it. There has to be a checks and balance to the budget and our ability to meet obligations and services while maintaining safety and access.
JOHN D. CRAIG, Lockport