A few weeks ago, East St. Louis Mayor Alvin Parks ranted and raved because the state's Financial Advisory Authority objected to his plan to lay off 16 firefighters on Sept. 30.
"The FAA doesn't have the authority to tell us what to do with the city's money," Parks insisted. Also: "We are very capable of running our city."
But thank goodness for the FAA. If Parks had gotten to run the city the way he planned, the city would be limping along with 16 of its 53 firefighters laid off. Instead, the city and firefighters reached an agreement and firefighters could keep working through 2016.
The FAA gets the credit for this wonderful turn of events. It was the FAA, not Parks, that pointed out the city had $500,000 from protested property tax reimbursements that could be used for the firefighters. It was the FAA that clearly understood that firefighter layoffs would compromise public safety and the safety of the 37 remaining firefighters, who would be working shorthanded.
Parks wants the FAA gone, but the residents and taxpayers of East St. Louis better hope that the FAA stays in place for years to come. Clearly the city still desperately needs the FAA's help and guidance.