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January 23, 2009 - 8:26am

News roundup: City poised to scrap county-wide ambulance service

posted by Philip Anselmo in batavia, Daily News, wbta, city council, emergency, ambulance.

Batavia is ready to get out of the ambulance business. City Council said last night that it would vote Monday to terminate its agreement with the rest of the county to provide ambulance service throughout the county, according to an article this morning in the Daily News. Joanne Beck writes: "That will mean no more city ambulance service for all residents of Genesee County, including the city."

"No more city ambulance." Flat out.

WBTA's Dan Fischer is quick to point, however, that the void will not remain empty for long. "If council votes to close down the ambulance service, expect a deal to be struck with a private ambulance service out of Rochester or Buffalo," he says.

Beck put together a fine article, replete with colorful quotes from Council, such as this one from Frank Ferrando:

“If we’re making money, none of us would want to give it up.... I think we want to provide this service, and it’s an excellent service, we just can’t foot the bill. We can’t foot the bill for the whole damn county.”

As for the rest of "the whole damn county"—they're not so willing to give up the service. Beck writes:

Seventeen of 18 Genesee County municipalities have indicated they’d like to extend the current ambulance service agreement another year, City Manager Jason Molino said. Pembroke opted out. The city must first “execute an extension and modification agreement” to continue offering the service before it can then notify those municipalities of the city’s termination clause, Molino said.

Lori Ann Santini
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I ask that people very carefully obtain and evaluate the facts over this situation. There is a lot at stake. Obviously there are some on each side of the fence that have a "biased" opinion of the situation. No one seems to be commenting on this article. Is it due to complacency, fear of retribution or the belief that it isn't your problem? Come Monday when Council votes for the resolution, there is no going back. As a county that is about to loss a good thing, I hope that we don't regret inaction.
Russ Stresing
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Lori Ann, There's about 2 dozen comments on the article on The Daily News website.
Lori Ann Santini
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My question is why not here? Are they hiding behind the ability to hide their identity? I hardly think that this doesn't deserve upfront and honest debate. If there is anyone out there that has a comment about the service, let everyone know. Good or bad, we can only learn what we want and need if we vocalize it. Its like getting remarried after a divorce. You know what you want and you wont take less.
Charlie Mallow
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Lori, you deserve an answer. I like our current service and would rather keep it. The fact is the city can not financially afford to continue providing service. We tried to open up the lines of communication with the county Legislature and they didn’t want to discuss the issue. Hopefully now that the council is going to set a deadline, the county Legislature will realize the importance of this service to the whole county and they will take some action to save it.
John Roach
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It’s a shame we have to lose the ambulance service, but don’t blame City Council. I am no fan of some of them like Frank Ferrando, and he does deserve the blame for not fixing this in the past, but this all falls on the other Towns and Villages. They refuse to raise taxes on their people to pay their fair share of the service. They want the City taxpayer to pay for them. If they would only pay their fair share, there would be no problem. And under the stupid contract past Councils agreed to, City Council President Mallow said that if the City ends the service for the Towns and Villages, we have to end it for the city or we can be sued. Yes, according to him, if we keep the service just for us, we can be sued. So either we pay for the whole County, or we get out of the business. You’ll hear about how this made money in the past and the money was taken for the regular City budget. That’s probably true years ago. Council moved money around a lot to hide we were broke. But times have changed. The independent auditors say the Ambulance service is bleeding money and I have not heard anyone say the auditors lied. If you can prove the independent auditors are lying, please present your proof. The solution is a private company or the County runs it. The County said “hell no”. So, it will end up a private company. The City will not get as good a service as we have now, but whatever service comes along will probably be based here near the Hospitals. The Towns and Villages will pay much more for much less. And the City can get back to its own service after awhile when it can avoid being sued. The Towns and Villages will be stuck with whatever they can get. All this because they refused to pay their fair share.
Robert Drewinski
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This program just proves government should not be in the business of national health care. I don’t know how this will effect the local democrats when Obama and the Clinton gang hear about this failure in Genesee County. See its like anything currently, blame taxpayers other towns for this failure when all they have to do is cry victim status and continue to dump money on the problem and hope it works out 40 years from now.
John Roach
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Bob, What makes you think "Obama and the Clinton gang" would hear that ambulance service in "Batavia" has a problem. While we are all proud of Batavia, I don't think Obama will have time to worry about this.
Lori Ann Santini
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To Mr. Mallow - For the record could you please tell everyone how the Medics were notified of the outcome of Thursday nights' meeting. Which City Council member or Mr. Molino went over to Fire Headquarters to tell them. Quite frankly, the way they found out was completely inappropriate and definately heartbreaking. I would lay odds you might take offense to reading of your dismissal from service via text message or online. To Mr. Roach - You are correct that this is a big ooops. The residents of the county have no idea how much they are about to lose. I cannot comment for personal reasons as to my opinion of all the options. It would not be professional on my part. What I ask of you to do is google Rural Metro and Monroe Amb. ending service to Livingston County. The Fitch Report is very clear as to the situation they left in Livingston County. This is no way questions the employees of those companies. They have to do what they are told to do. The medics that work for both companies are quality people. Draw your own conclusions. You may also wish to research Auburn, NY EMS. They have some interesting articles. To Mr Drewinski - Who cares how much egg is on the faces of the Democrats or Republicans for that matter about the loss of the service. The concern is how it will effect the person that dials 911 and has to wait for a longer period of time then they have been to get an ambulance. Time is muscle whether it is brain or heart cells. Lose it and it can't come back. To All the Elected Officials that represent Genesee County. This is your time to form the new EMS system if the City of Batavia service ends. Make sure you have the same number of ambulances available to cover the county that you have now. 1 or 2 ambulances won't cover the call volume. Keep them on track with response times. This seemed to be such a huge issue with the municipalities and the city. Penalize them if they can't meet the need or time constraint. Next - demand that you get fair notice of their exit from the county. It will happen sooner then you may think. Make sure that when you sign the contract that you ensure that there wont be hidden fees later on own the road. To the Residents - You have less then 3 days to make your opinion known. Come Monday night the decision is final. If you have used the service and have positive things to say then do it. It may make the county realize that the money raised should stay here. Not to Scottsdale Arizona or Monroe County. Keep the service local. Thank you
Charlie Mallow
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Lori, I can’t speak to how people were told. I do know that the City Manager sat down with the union rep to notify him of the upcoming decision by council. The city is a public entity and it is not legal for us to take action in private. I do not like the way we are forced to handle employee matters. I completely understand the frustration that you all must feel. No one took joy in coming to this decision. You’re all very hard working people who have served our community well for years. No one has every questioned the professionalism or quality of service that was provided by the department or its people. My hope is that the county will take on the service as is; they have taxing authority over all the municipalities in the county and are the proper entity to provide ambulance service. It would be a real shame to have to lose what we have but, the city can not continue as is.
Chris Charvella
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I found a website with a few case studies dealing with ambulance service privatization. It seems that the name of the game is oversight. http://www.privatization.org/database/policyissues/ems_local.html So my question is this: Is the City willing to provide oversight and hold a private ambulance company accountable for the services they provide? If the answer is 'yes' then I think we can all learn to live with privatization.
Lori Ann Santini
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To Mr Mallow - we were not informed that the service was going to end.Only after the fact, were we informed that several options had been put on the table. Private or Publicly employed - we deserved better a better notification. Obviously it's easy to armchair the way it was handled after the fact. I ask that courtesy is paid to the next department that may be reduced. Making the notification personally means you open yourself up to a negative response. It does however go a long way in healing the wound the notification makes. The medics are here to provide a professional service to the patients and clients we serve. That won't change. There will be discussions in the future as to what will happen. It may be started by us, the staff at the hospital, nursing homes or the patients themselves. Those discussions need to happen. It might lead to an unusual answer to the current problem. Negative attitudes won't help us through this. Professionalism will help. We have promised professionalism to Chief Dillon and the people we currently serve. I would like to make it very clear that these are my words and opinions only. I do not in anyway want anyone to think that this represent the official opinions of the Union body. The Constitution of The United States allows me to have Freedom of Speech. I want to keep this as a positive discussion about the current EMS decision/problem only. Thank you
Mark Potwora
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To Lori Ann Santini...why dont you the ambulance service personal start your own company and provide this service,seems like you have all the knowledge to do this..I would think it would be a great opportunity to start this type of business.I am being serious..
Lori Ann Santini
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To Mr Potwora Thank you for the compliment however my knowledge is miniscule in regards to this "project". Let me introduce you to EMS Service. Step 1 You need a Certificate of Need a.k.a CON to cover an area that you wish to service. That has to go through many council levels here in WNY before it can even be approved in Albany. They already feel that there are enough CON's for this county. Step 2 Finances. Don't have it nor could we get it in place in time even I we were given a gold wrapped CON from the City, County, Rural Metro or Albany. Step 3 Business Plan- I don't even pretend to know all of the in's and out's of business finance. My head hurts thinking about it. Step 4 Equipment. The City can't just hand over the ambulances, equipment, and drugs. Once again a State Legal thing. Step 5 A funny thing called benefits - Can't get good qualified help if you don't have these perks. Retirement is a huge one now. Health Insurance is a problem too. Step 6 The interactive part - The Staff. Gotta find people who want to ride a very unstable roller coaster ride. New businesses aren't fairing so well in these economic times. Step 7 Billing knowledge or a great billing company. The laws in regards to medicare billing could make you sick. Then you would need the ambulance you own to pick you up. How does one bill for self-service? Step 8 More time. Step 9 No spouse, kids, or life. If you do you might see them again when they are out of college. Step 10 Department of Health approval. This is a more humorous look at the big picture. There is so much red tape to go through to form a Ambulance service. With our current situation, we need someone who is very savy and already in the Department of Health (a.k.a. DOH) system. If you would like to discuss this further, I would be happy to help. My resume is nearly 20 years in EMS both as a volunteer and paid. I don't have all the answers but I might be able to point you in the right direction if need be. Thank you for reading this discussion. It helps to realize that there is interest about the service. If you have any suggestions then by all means toss them into the ring. I love this discussion forum. There has been great thoughts and little negativity.
scott rytlewski
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this is exactlly the same thing that happen 25 yrs ago in the central part of orleans and what happened COVA so lori it can be done so you and your fellow workers should pick up and run you do have the skills
Lori Ann Santini
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Mark Potwora
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thanks Lori for responding..and helping me and others understand how the whole thing works..and if it causes you and the other medics to do a little brainstorming and see if maybe you all could do it as a privite company ..im sure you would get alot of local support to help you all out..
John Roach
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This is less a question of how good Rural Metro or any other private company is than we can not afford what we have now. We got trapped. The city has the best people and best service in WNY. But we can not pay for the whole county. But if we try to take care of just ourselves, we get sued. With the Towns/Villages refusing to pay their fair share, everyone loses protection. When the people in the Town/Villages end up paying more money for less service, I hope they remember their elected officials who put the screws to them. I also hope they remember their County Legislators who refused to help them and vote them out this year in November
Lori Ann Santini
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Chad Higgins
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As a City resident I think it is a good time to ask that question before completly getting out of the Ambulance buisiness? How will the City get sued if we have a City run ambulance service for the citizens of Batavia? Mr. Roach has made mention of this twice now and I am confused on how this is even possible. I am not saying that it is not true, just would like more details. I am almost positive the City Fire Department has been in the EMS serivce with the ability to transport if needed way before they took the service over from the hospital. Why can it not go back to the way it was? We are very fortunate to have some of the best medics around and it is scary to think come September 1st they could be gone or working for someone else. Also we keep hearing about how we are paying for the other Town/Villages in the County for this service. What was the the $100k+ we charged the municipalities for? How much do they really cost us? I thought the per call fee was established to recover the losses? Was it not enough? What does the City Council have planned for a transporting ambulance service for our own residents come September 1st? If their hearts are set on getting out should they not have something waiting to take over? Did Genesee Area Municipalities (I think that is what their called) not send out for bids last year? And wasn't the only one who sent in a proposal for service the City? Why is anyone going to be interested now if they were not less than a year ago?
Charlie Mallow
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In order to get to the root of this issue you have to understand "unfunded obligations" and what they mean to small municipalities like our city. The link below is a very plain spoken explanation. The End of Local Government as We Know It? http://www.regional-institute.buffalo.edu/Research/Series.cfm?ID=63 After we in the city did an actuarial study of the long term costs of running our own service, it became apparent that the City of Batavia could not continue on financially with the service. The short term costs we have been fixated with are just the tip of the iceberg. This is one of the reasons I am so strongly in support of consolidation.
John Roach
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Chad, According to Charlie, we are bound by Mutal Aid agreements to provide the service everyplace if we provide it here.
Lori Ann Santini
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Chris Charvella
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If County Legislators are using the Mutual Aid agreement as a shield against paying their part of the EMS bill then the next election is gonna be fun. Have they actually threatened to sue if the City starts restricting ambulance services? I'd love to see a list of names of the County Legislators who don't feel that this issue is important enough to be adressed even at sub-committee. Folks, think of your vote as a hammer. Now let's start driving some nails.
Chad Higgins
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Thanks Mr. Mallow for the info. The article helps a little but I do not think it really answered my questions. I think it added to my realization that you and other elected officials have a lot of tough decisions ahead. Mr. Roach said we are bound by the Mutual Aid agreements. Hopefully this is not the same, "stupid contract past councils agreed to", as it was utilized in the city just last night. If this is why we could be sued by providing an ambulance service for our city residents I am not completely sold on it. I feel we need to find a way keep a city run ambulance service for our residents. If the county ends up with a private ambulance service coming in, then they should be set up as the primary provider of transport and ALS service. When they are not available, through the Mutual Aid agreement the city would get called outside of the city limits. However, this works in our favor as well when we do not have an ambulance available. We can call Mutual Aid from a neighboring municipality to cover our area. My biggest question is, what does the City Council have planned come September 1st if we completly get out of the ambulance service if no other ambulance serivce has been established by that time? There really needs to be something ready for the citizens of city (and hopefully everywhere else) before council says its over with on said date!! And as far as getting an answer on how much the other municipalities are costing the city I didn't really figure I would get an answer. Not sure if there is a good way to figure it out or maybe its just an excuse. But, it keeps coming up and we keep throwing blame but, we never hear how much they are actually costing us unless I missed it.
Mark Potwora
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What does each town pay to be part of this service..I would think the farther away you are from UMMC the more it would cost to transport..Why not just direct bill the town when there is a call and let them collect the cost from who every used the service in their town..
Charlie Mallow
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This isn’t a matter of getting sued or not getting sued. If we have a service available we need to provide that to other communities in the county per our agreements. They in kind provide mutual aid to the city, without which the city would be in real trouble. That’s why this idea of drawing a line around the city and telling people we will not help them isn’t practical much less polite.
Chad Higgins
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Mark, I can get the figures for how much each municipality is paying if needed but I think it added up just over $100k. Usually people who use the ambulance service are billed for the service, just like in the City. This bill is usually paid for by the insurance company. When people do not have insurance this is where the city can lose money as they are providing a service and not being compensated for it.
Chad Higgins
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Mr. Mallow, I was just asking about what Mr. Roach was talking about. It was brought up now a couple of times so... And I know we have to provide it to other communities but are they not going to offer the same to us? Again, what is the plan for me and other citizens of the city come September 1st if no other service has been established? There at least needs to be a plan for the residents of the city before you say we are out of the buisiness! Crossing our fingers and toes that someone else will be set up by that time doesn't cut it!
John Roach
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Charlie, You told me about the all the problems. This might be a good time for him to explain all this to others.
Charlie Mallow
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Mr. Higgins, we attempted to work this out with the county. They refused to talk about it unless, we took this action. Nine months is plenty of time for the county to sign on with a private company or decide to take our service over.
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I think it is a long stretch to equate local ambulance service to national health care.
Lori Ann Santini
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Chad Higgins
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Copy, no back-up plan for us here in the city. Thanks! Seeing the ambulance serivce was costing us so much money then... I guess when council has their next budget meeting there should be a big article the following day on how much our taxes will be going down next year? Correct?
Charlie Mallow
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Mr. Higgins why don't you read the report I gave in the link above? How do you propose we handle those spiraling long term costs? I'm a city taxpayer as well and the city can't afford to think short term. Lori, of course I will listen to you. I hope the medics do take this on, I know you can do it. This doesn't change our plans for Monday, you have plenty of time and I think a very supportive group to deal with.
Lori Ann Santini
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The residents of this county have to step up to the plate to help us help them. Without the support from County elected officials, Emergency Management and the person who lives down the street, and any other person who may dial 911 we cannot succeed. We have saved many lives over the years. As a past patient we need you. - SPEAK UP NOW -. We need to know that you want us to continue being your EMS provider. If you don't care then come September 1, 2009 we will be gone. Come 6 months down the line, we wont be able to come back.
Mark Potwora
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Thank you Lori for trying to come up with a plan that maybe we all can live with..you guys do a great job..We here in the city have to do what best for us...And i hope that some how you can be part of what has to be done..Thank you
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I did read the report and I know you have to make some very tough decisions right now, last year and probably a few more in the coming years. Believe me; I do not envy you right now! I also appreciate you responding to my questions (even if you have not really answered many of them). How can we handle the long term costs? Not sure, how much more are they going to be if we wait until something else has been put in place? The study you showed me was great and probably had a lot of similarities to the City of Batavia but it was not written about us so… We have no dollar figures on what it is costing us and/or the county. The figures have to be out there but for some reason they cannot be shared. There should just be a service in place to take everything over before the city says it is over. Not say that 8-9 months is plenty of time. Hopefully Lori Ann and the other medics are going to present you and others with a plan to help continue the great service they provide the city and county. Please try to give them the time they need to make it happen. Hear them out and give them a chance to make it work. Lori Ann/Medics, anything I can do to help let me know.
Mark Potwora
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Same here Lori if there is anything i can do as a taxpayer here in the city to help your cause let me know....I would rather see it stay local..and i do believe that the city can not finance it any longer..has to be a better way..what ever it is ,it has to be able to pay for it self..I read today that the city budget could go up 2.1% .still to much..needs to go down..Genesse county is rated 8th in the nation in property tax as to value of home worth..8th in the whole United States..we need to change that..Its people like Lori with plans to help that mean the most..City Council needs to find more cuts..zero increase has to be the goal..remember water rates will be going up 5%..we need to be able to keep more of our income in this trying times..we will never get out of this mess by take more from the citizens pockets.We need to keep all the income we make as we can..
lawrence S clark
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I would like to see some real figures showing that those outside the city cost the city money in total or aggregate? or however you say it in comparison to how much those outside the city spend within it that they don't really see again I don't think it's as easy as saying we are the city we get the businesses we get many of your products we receive the money of all around that have to come here to buy goods this is natural we owe you absolutely nothing in return What do towns in get in return for selling the cities food to feed all their people? Take away the ambulance in hopes of getting county people to pay up that is what it sounds like What happens when towns play their bargaining chip/s no longer sell food to the cities hoping they return the ambulance service -including whatever rather minor fees they may have to cover I don't see too many farms on Main St. Hope all your businesses can survive on city population I don't know but I'd guess there would be some quick negotiation I just want to see a fair share accounting of everything If there isn't one for whatever reasons Well, this is what negotiation is for Sounds as though there was a deal struck at some point Sounds fair to me To break that deal I figure someone has to come up with hard facts for why it's in everyones benefit for business not to be conducted in the same manner anymore Not just We've been messing up Living beyond our means Someone has to pay for our mistakes thus enabling us to make more It just sounds way too easy and human to blame outsiders
John Roach
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Lawrence, Sorry, but you sound a bit like Laz. If you really want to see the "real figures", the independent auditor report can be seen at City Hall. If, after you read it, you think the independent auditor lied, come and say so at the following Council meeting. This may come as a shock to you but most of our food does not come from local farms.
Lori Ann Santini
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Out of respect for the city and the union, I will hold off on further discussion in this forum. Thank you for the interaction. I don't wish to have my thoughts compromise the welfare of the other medics or fire fighters that I proudly work with.
f n
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" Like no one can see the Writing on the walls the city it self is a joke. They ran them self into the ground and now everyone in the county has to face consequences. It’s a real shame that all those wonderful city medics and families have to go threw this. The city is in big trouble now and all the rest is to come. The City of Batavia is trying to get anyone to take on their debt just look at Emergency dispatch the county taxpayers are now paying that problem for The City police Depatment. What’s next this big consolidation with the Town Of Batavia the Town would be crazy to take on their problems and let’s not forget City fire and city Police dept. its all going happen sooner or later grate job city keep up the good work. "
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Who the hell is Laz? I'm sure there was an independent auditor Sure there was a report Surely he didn't lie It does seem odd that after an independent auditor looked at everything there was to look at All connections The ambulance service is the only thing seemingly sucking Batavia dry and therefore if was split equally Batavia would be then paved with gold and babys-breath would spill over the curbs Seems like small potatoes The ambulance service ..which seems to be covered in part by the county already is the lone true scourge here I don't buy that it went in-depth if it did, show me You brought it up I feel as though you should be the one to tell me why I'm wrong Not tell me to go and prove your case for you I know bananas don't come from Perry Most food however isn't grown on city rooftops It has to come from the praries of Perrys somewhere Don't think it matters one Ore-Ida where exactly But since you seem to know where everything comes from and the true cost of everything tell me where and how much I don't think you're really allowed to get off so easily Lets make it a game I could get into it Maybe it would have some value Maybe the entire community could play along feel part of the process for once People don't know what they want Do they? Maybe we need to find out again We elect people to make decisions on our behalf We need to because of the way the world is But people feel left out Then people need reporters and newspapers and television and community blog sites and but then those places can get under the control of those we want info on so then we need private people to look into the trustworthiness of those we had hoped to and then the system gets bigger and then the people we need info on need people to give that info and then we need people to check those people but now you have 13 news channels 6 radio shows 145 reporters 18 lawyers all of whom are operating a business consisting either of many or themselves at this point nobody knows what the hell each is doing anymore so it ends up being look out for #1 and family movie night Which seems to be OK cause everyone and their brother has a job -we have jobs so intertwined we cannot see life without them continuing- and they need those jobs cause they have a mortgage 2 cars 3 pets a boat numerous toys big-screen televisions a fat belly and a guilty conscience driven deep inside through use of substances -and perhaps some charity work- hopefully nobody does anything "illegally" or else he ends up with a prison job benefitting those out there about to become bunkmates That's OK because those on the extremes make us feel as though we're doing right But sure ..an ambulance service is what needs fixing. Seems like cheating Like picking up the domino that didn't fall the others adjusting it so that it will continue the streak flicking it 13 feet down the line repeat procedure I watched a piece of Batavia city council meeting for 15 minutes or so Heard one speaker Doubt he was heard I think more time was spent on roll-call and shuffling of papers He said place has been packed before over issues Nothing I dunno I'll believe him
John Roach
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Last seen: 2 weeks 3 hours ago
Joined: May 29 2008 - 5:22am
Fair question, who is "Laz"? "Laz" was was afraid to use his real name. He wrote like a fool and rarely made any sense. Since he would not be honest, he was removed from this site. Since you claim your address to be California and to have watched our City Council on TV, but write like you live here, and write in the same silly way Laz did, I suspected you are Laz, using a new name and address. Maybe Howard can verify who you are.
j sBat
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Last seen: 13 years 5 months ago
Joined: Jan 27 2009 - 8:32pm
WOW cant believe the city did what they did, But boy we got better response for somebody to run the ice rink, really dodged a bullet there.
Robert Tretter
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Last seen: 1 month 1 week ago
Joined: Jan 27 2009 - 12:33pm
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