No greater love
Here is what I remember and what I know about Lt. Randy Parker. I remember Randy being a great family man and husband to Sandie and dad to Andrew and Chandler. I remember his great personality, big smile and love for life. I remember him being a strong leader and someone you could always depend on. I know Randy was a man of faith and a follower of Jesus Christ. He and his family attended and were actively involved at his church -- Christ Chapel Sportstowne. I know that Lt. Randy Parker left this Earth on Feb. 11 in a tragic accident while fighting a house fire in Macon. I also know that Randy is in heaven, having made the most important decision a person can ever make in their life: where they will spend eternity. We weep for the loss of Lt. Randy Parker -- friend, father and firefighter -- but find comfort in knowing he was welcomed into heaven as a good and faithful servant.
Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.
-- John 15:13
-- Jacob Cox
Tough decisions ahead
In the 10-plus years I served on the Bibb County Commission, budgets were never easy. Requests from the sheriff’s office, the courts and department heads were always at least 20 percent more than projected revenues. The tax digest in Bibb County was declining each year and sales tax revenues were not predictable but had declined for several years. In spite of a poor economy, we were able to balance our budget and fund many things that were related to economic development and improve the fund balance or reserves. We had to make serious cuts in many areas and even eliminated several nonprofits from our funding. With the exception of the sheriff’s office, we had fewer employees in 2012 than we had in 2002. We rarely agreed on everything, but at the end of the day, we were able to adopt a budget -- but not to everyone’s satisfaction.
I can certainly relate to the budget problems facing our current mayor and commissioners. The declining tax digest and sales tax revenues along with the former city taxes being eliminated presents a challenge for anyone. The consolidated government is further challenged by the mandated 5 percent cuts set forth in the charter. With 75 percent to 80 percent of the budget in personnel costs, reductions in staff will absolutely be necessary. Attrition alone will not get the job done. Tough decisions by the mayor and commissioners will be required.
My current observation is that we have a group of commissioners who are not willing to make tough decisions. The honeymoon is over, and they cannot be nice guys.
Maybe our legislators had the foresight to realize that the commissioners would not make the tough decisions so it was mandated in the charter. Former Sen. Cecil Staton said something along the lines that, “One plus one must equal less than two.”
It is essential that we streamline our government and become more efficient in providing the services for our residents. Public safety has to be at the top of the list in setting priorities. There are always things that end up in the proposed budget that are not essential services of local government. These should not be categorized in separate entitlements. If the revenues are not there, then you cut.
I have been out of office two years and am no longer in the decision-making process nor have a vote. However, I do know that you cannot make everyone happy by the decisions you have to make. I always left with the feeling that I did the best I could with what we had to work with. At the end of the day, some folks will leave the room very dissatisfied.
-- Elmo Richardson
The very sad news of the loss of a Macon firefighter Lt. Randy Parker and the injuries to five other brave souls is a poignant reminder that not only our armed forces are wounded and die in the line of duty. As a matter of fact, in the last 10 years, an average of more than 100 firefighters per year are lost in the line of duty.
Though I typically do not like taking quotes from movies, 2004’s “Ladder 49” provided this: “People are always asking me why is it that firefighters are always running into buildings others are running out of.” Courage is the answer. Indeed.
On one of the worst days in our collective lives, 9/11, was also the worst loss of life for New York City firefighters. The loss of 19 fire jumpers in Arizona last year brought home again how fickle fire can be and how fragile humans are in its raging path. The loss of Randy is no more or less a tragedy, just closer to home.
There are no feature stories on TV and few in the paper when there are no mangled wreaks or blazing houses to show at 6 p.m. or 11 p.m., or a front-page headline, but the work goes on. The daily lives of those we depend upon and those of their families and friends go on in anticipation of that terrible phone call. We need to know these folks not from the site of catastrophe or obituary but through contact and stories that do not relate to the latest calamity.
Make an effort to thank these folks, the men and women who man our fire and police stations and do so knowing that “you never know and do it anyway.”
Thank you Randy Parker, I wish we had met.
-- Bob Carnot
We can and should easily defeat the Islamist threat today. The only real issue is how many Islamists have to be killed before they decide that Allah is OK with the Great Satan after all. We can do this with mass military action, showing no mercy on the battlefield now, or our next president can fire up the B-52s and kill millions of Muslims after Obama allows Iran to go nuclear and they attack Israel. One occurrence would beget the other.
Simply said, we could kill millions of Islamists/Muslims by lunch Friday if we wanted. We don’t because we are not killers. Islamists would cheerfully kill millions of Americans by lunch Friday. They just don’t have the means to do so yet. Unlike our bewildered president,
I believe ISIS and all the rest when they say they want to kill us. They prove this almost daily by their barbaric executions, rapes and genocidal attacks on innocents. This is not the time to be squeamish about casualties. This is the time to stop an existential threat. “Damn the torpedoes ...”
-- John Brogden
Just when I thought the Dallemand dilemma was done, I read that he is seeking $10 million from the BOE for violations of his severance agreement. I believe this battle will be costly. Eventually the BOE will settle his claim. I would not be surprised if he submits a bill for legal fees after a settlement is reached.
I was happy to read that the BOE has ended its costly, two-year search for a permanent superintendent. I hope the BOE supports his efforts to improve graduation rates and test score results.
-- Jim Costello