The latest doom-and-gloom scenario from the city of Bend is over fire protection. We’re told the city must stop paying for bus service or there won’t be enough money for fire protection.
The long-term revenue projections don’t support enough firefighters.
And the city must spend $1 million more on fire protection by 2015 or service will be cut.
We’ve seen this film before.
This is the doom-and-gloom sequel to last summer’s blockbuster from Bend Police Chief Jeff Sale.
He told the council last summer critical police services may stop if calls keep rising and the police don’t get more money.
Detectives could stop investigating all property crimes and property thefts worth less than $100,000 unless it happened to a senior.
He said that, by 2016, detectives could stop investigating sex abuse or rape unless the victim is a child, disabled or a senior.
It’s the shock-and-awe style of governance. Scare the public and make them eager to pay.
Mayor Jim Clinton wisely came back a few weeks later after Sale’s scary pitch and explained that it was only a worst-case scenario for the police. That public safety horror was not going to happen.
But the damage was already done. The city’s credibility was rattled.
Now the city’s back with the new gloom.
Of course, there are challenges to paying for fire and police. They are serious challenges. Just as there are challenges to paying for everything the city does or hopes to do. And a dose of drama does do wonders for getting people to realize paying for city services is serious.
But Bend’s officials shouldn’t govern with shock and awe. Scaring the public won’t make them pay a new tax or impel them to vote to let the rural fire district take over the city’s fire protection.
The public will tune it out.
In popular culture, so often the loudest, the boldest, the brashest wins. It’s not a winning approach for governing.