You have to feel for the people of East St. Louis. Their Fire Department is about to go from 53 firefighters to 31.
It's going to be painful to have the force abruptly cut by 40 percent.
But city leaders knew this day was coming. Those firefighters' salaries were paid by a three-year, $3.3 million federal grant, and time's up. The idea of the grant was to get things going and eventually have the city assume the costs. It's like pushing a stalled car, and hoping the momentum will get the engine running.
The strategy doesn't always work. East St. Louis wasn't in a position to pay for these firefighters before the grant, and three years later it still isn't.
The federal help was nice while it lasted, but it wasn't going to go on forever. The city needs a different plan.