County is shortchanging public safety
In response to Paul Courtney's letter of Jan. 24 ("Brad Mitzelfelt is working on Barstow's behalf"), I need to respond as follows:

First, public safety is achieved by having safety professionals properly paid, properly equipped and in the field, a policy I support. Building space does not improve public safety (all it does is give Mitzelfelt a photo op opportunity to show him handing a blown up check to some sheriff's official when the building is finished). Mr. Courtney's implication that I do not support proper funding of public safety is misplaced and hypocritical rhetoric. Mr. Courtney heads up a fire board that underpays its firemen between $12,000 to $18,000 per firefighter even after a recent delayed raise (according to a Desert Dispatch article dated 12/21/07). I would like to know how the Barstow Fire Protection District year after year, even using paid call firemen to try and save on hiring more firemen, can justify underpaying their fire professionals (hint: folks, its spending too much on lawsuits, lawyers, photocopy machines and chairs!). Building new office space (back to the sheriffs) vs. leasing additional space that may be needed for storage, meetings and or briefings is sound fiscal policy because if the income drops, the county is not forced to pay ongoing static costs and by leasing existing space, we efficiently use existing space (the county does not need to spend the big bucks to build and the local commercial property owners get income from providing available space to the county).

Second, the reserve that the county has built has been built by underfunding public safety departments. For example, the Hinkley fire station, which responds on Fort Irwin Road and out to Kramer Junction, is operating at roughly 60 percent of budget - the money not being spent is the type of thing "reserves" are built on. Creating a "reserve" on the backs on rural areas that desperately need more manpower, better pay and equipment is bad policy. And again speaking of the Barstow Fire Protection District, doesn't the county hold back 15 percent of the money allocated for their service area? Before defending Mitzelfelt, realize that the "reserve" is being funded by screwing the local communities out of protection money it should (but is not) getting.

Third, as for the Barstow airport, if the money is coming from the FAA, why was Mitzelfelt trying to take credit for it? Another lie?

Remember this is the appointed supervisor, who received in July (Hesperia Star article dated August 1) grand jury subpoenas - in trouble with the law in his first six months.

Fourth, with all the above said, I respect what Mr. Courtney has done in his business and for his willingness to serve the community but its time to quit kissing the hand that shortchanges our communities.

Bob Conaway Barstow