To the Editor: Citizens & commissioners show little support for public safety


public safety, county commissioners, ocala news, marion county news, ocala post, op, letter to the editor

Ocala, Florida — It was a little disheartening to see all the Marion County citizens rally for the Confederate flag recently.  Not that they shouldn’t be allowed to show their enthusiastic support for whatever cause they deem worthy, but the fact that they then show such little support for the Fire Department and Sheriff’s Department in this county is upsetting.

These are the issues that affect us closely and they choose to keep silent about them.  The county commissioners are on the verge of destroying our fire department, which would affect every single one of us residents.  Yet where are the rallies of citizens?  Where are the trucks, cars and motorcycles driving on the roads in support of these men and women? Where are the people packing the commission chamber to voice their displeasure?

With the exception of a handful of residents that came out to the last rally and spoke to the commissioners, they’re nowhere to be found.  These commissioners will not allocate the needed resources for these hardworking men and women, who by the way, risk their lives for you, unless the other citizens force them to.  They are underpaid and understaffed and are leaving this unappreciative county to go to other, more friendly, departments.

What is one of the ideas to save money?  Well, they came up with removing the language concerning the staffing requirements for firefighters to man the trucks.  What does that mean?  When a fire truck comes to your aid because your house is on fire, there could only be two firefighters on the truck.  That means a) one will have to go in alone to do a search and rescue if someone is in the house (extremely dangerous) or b) they would have to wait for back up to arrive, wasting precious time in getting to you or a family member trapped in the fire.

The other idea was two half-cent sales taxes (for a total of 1%) for infrastructure and public safety. One would assume that they would use one of the half-cent taxes for infrastructure and one for public safety. That’s a start, but Commissioner Zalak has a different take on it. In his radio interview he said he would take 75% of the total 1% tax for infrastructure and the other 25% would go to public safety. While my car’s alignment is very important to me, I’d rather have a fully staffed fire truck show up if my house were burning.

You see where their priorities are?

It’s just not in their makeup for our public safety or the safety of our first responders to be a main concern; it’s how they can save money.  They’ll spread the first responders even thinner across the county.  And of course, the most important thing is that they didn’t raise any property taxes.  Who else but the citizens of this county should help pay for our own safety?

From what I’ve witnessed of this group, they’re not likely to come around anytime soon.  It seems to have turned into a pissing match between them and the fire department and to some extent, the sheriff’s department.  To put it bluntly, they just really don’t seem to care.  The firefighters can’t do it by themselves, and they shouldn’t have to.  The residents should have their backs.  It’s very sad that the fire department feels the need to hold rallies outside the commissioner’s offices just to get the public’s attention.

These political officers need to be removed from office this next election.  If you’re not going to support the firefighters or police vocally, at least make sure to support them at the polls and elect people who are willing to fund these crucial services correctly.

Lori Grace

Ocala, Florida

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  • Jefferson Davis

    If the sheriff needs more money,maybe he shouldn’t hire all his buddies at 100k a clip

  • Randy Morris

    The thing that stands out in support of Sheriff Blair more than anything else is the fact that State Attorney Brad King when to so much trouble to keep the REC from appointing Blair to take the place of King’s buddy Dan Kuhn when Kuhn’s sexcapades force him to drop out of the Republican race for sheriff. Certainly “King Brad” would have preferred to have the Bridges of America gang member Bernie DeCastro once deemed “one of my hero’s” by Jeb Bush – since Decastro like the Bridges of America convicts are all ready experts at stealing the taxpayers blind through their FDOC vendor schemes. the original plan was for Kuhn to be elected; DeCastro was the back up. Privatize everything Commissioner Stan McClain was going to push for Corrections Corporation of America or the GEO Group (Which use to belong to local Senator King) to take over the county jail. When all else failed Stn McClain come back with an attempt to sell the jail to the CCA gang. St Rep Dennis Baxley took an award from the Bridges of America gangsters with one hand then questioned how come so many sex offenders was being released under the Jimmy Ryce law on the other. Baxel is going to run for Senate and “privatize everything” Stan McClain is going to take his St Rep job. Sometimes it’s hard to figure out if these people are real money hungry thieves or just to stupid to see what they are doing to the taxpayers. Carl Zalak for instance made a public announcement when he run that the Marion landfill have another 20-30 years of life. Six months later he signed an agreement with State Senator Charlie Dean for Marion County to use Dean’s Sumter County landfill. Along with the deal Marion County hander Dean a check for $20 Million Bucks. As of last year Marion County had not yet sent one load to Dean’s Bushnell Dump. Remember when the lamebrains at the animal shelter was poisoning the little animals and throwing them into the dump behind the animal shelter and poisoned the Eagles? That’s alright because the big shots done that – but now last week the same bigshots felony arrested an elderly couple for feeding and sheltering too many cats.They were just common old ordinary people trying to feed the hungry cats that the animal shelter would not pick up because it was rupture their budget. Funny how when the firemen or the sheriff needs something the BCC gangsters like Zalak – displaced New York gangster arrived in Marion County by way of Miami just like the Bridges of America gangsters did.

    • Huskyrider

      And as Lori points out… It’s the community that will suffer. So what should we do as a community to make a difference?

  • harry

    part of the problem is your lumping fire fighters n emt’s with the local jailers. they are so different. ff’s n emt’s are about saving lives and sheriffs are not.
    ff’s will run in a burning building and the majority of cops won’t, yes some will, but most not.
    ff’s get awards for fighting fires, cops get awards for the most arrested and put in jail.

  • Thom Kinsey

    funny.. disheartening…let me share this real live MCSO moment..

    I had to laugh reading the Sheriff’s request for Crime Prevention funds, his statements concerning “calls going unanswered” due staffing issues, and generally his overall need for more money to properly provide law enforcement services. I personally experienced the Sheriff’s Office proactive approach to prevent crime and their dedication to “Putting CitizensFirst” as stated on their patrol cars. Around 3:30 AM my motorcycle failed to start at the Circle K in Silver Springs. Due to no customers at the Circle K and the parking lot being deserted I decided to push/walk my bike to Wal- Mart so the sales clerk did not get nervous thinking I was loitering or about to rob him. I went out the rear entrance pushing the bike down a dark street. I saw
    headlights across the Blvd of a SUV I could clearly make out as a MCSO marked
    car. I figured due to the time of night and it being suspicious a motorcycle
    being pushed down a dark street that he deputy would make contact with me. Nope..
    the Deputy’s keen observation skills either failed to see me or he just did not
    find it odd behavior. SO .. I continued to Wal-Mart on foot pushing my Ninja
    Sport motorcycle. Approaching the Steak n Shake I see a Deputy coming out of
    the drive thru. He stopped at the stop sign turn then turned left driving
    directly towards me. This time I knew I was about to have to provide ID and
    explain why I am pushing a motorcycle. I put the kick stand, pulled out my ID,
    and waited for him to stop. Nope.. milk shake in hand the Deputy drove right
    pass me. I was very surprised to unchallenged at 330 AM in poorly lighted area
    pushing a motorcycle. I guess the thought a crime was in progress never crossed
    their minds nor the thought I might need assistance. I was able to get the bike
    started and went on my way.

    Funding for Crime Prevention sounds good, but first the Sheriff needs to ensure his Deputies can recognize suspicious criminal behavior. I person in a dark or poorly lighted area pushing
    a sport motorcycle at 330 in the morning down a dark road/parking lot IS an
    abnormal suspicious action. Guess what.. Bad guys steal motorcycles. Bad guys
    commit theft in parking lots that are poorly lighted and isolated.

    No call for service!! I was committing a suspicious act at time and location that would cause any reasonable person to believe I am committing the crime of felony theft. Who pushes a motorcycle down dark streets and thru parking lots at 330 AM? Bad guys and guys like me needing assistance is who pushes a bike. No One else. Two Deputy Sheriffs lacking the
    proactive motivation to prevent or stop a possible crime occurring in front of
    them should be addressed prior to funding additional Deputies. If the acceptable standard of MCSO is ignoring a possible crime in progress occurring in their presence then 300 new deputies would do nothing to increase the safety or security of Marion County. I would challenge the Sheriff to provide factual data calls for service are going unanswered due to poor staffing. It might be a cause of priorities of his patrol division.

    I question the quality of service provided by the Sheriff to East Marion County. I rarely see Deputies and when I do it is at convenience stores. I wonder if the same scenero occurred in the area of 200/On Top of The World or the south end of the county down by The Villages IF the deputies would have ignored my suspicious behavior. Maybe but those areas do seem to get the
    majority of the Sheriff’s attention. Rural low income areas appear to be neglected. I wasn’t totally sure this was true until this morning. “Putting Citizens First” should be replaced with “Putting Higher Income/Greater Campaign Donation Citizens First”. The County Commission should keep current funding status quo, force the Sheriff to prioritize and shift funds within the funds
    provided, and insist the Sheriff train his deputies to properly identify/react to suspicious behavior.

    • tomfromocala

      You should send this to OP as a letter to the editor. They do that.

  • Rob

    I think they should have a Referendum and repeal that 1% sales tax since it wasn’t voted on in a general election / voting cycle .. yes lets have a Referendum and repeal this extra tax since they aren’t going to use it correctly ,.