Hodges: Fire union president has his facts wrong

Helping to keep residents safe — and making sure that we pay for our essential services responsibly — is my highest priority as Southwest’s City Council member and as a candidate to lead all of Minneapolis as mayor. And the good news is that we’ve done exactly that in recent years. 

Unfortunately, in the recent Southwest Journal profile about me and my campaign for mayor, fire union President Mark Lakosky cited some wildly incorrect data about the level of staffing in the Minneapolis Fire Department — then to make matters worse, tried to create fear around that inaccurate data.

First, let’s correct the facts. In 2010, the Fire Department had 180 firefighters. In 2013, we have 162, but we are in the process of training 15 new firefighters, which will raise the number to 177 by the year’s end.

Unfortunately, the numbers of firefighters that Mr. Lakosky cited were way off base. He may simply have been unaware that the City of Minneapolis changed the way it reports counts of employees, in order to make them more accurate. But as chair of the City Council’s Ways and Means/Budget Committee, I watch every number — and every dollar — like a hawk.

And it’s important to note that in that same period, our response times have remained the same.

Now it is true that in 2011, the Republican-controlled Legislature voted to cut firefighters in Minneapolis. I worked hard to mitigate those cuts responsibly and I am proud of that work. I am proud of my stewardship of both the City’s fire services and of your taxes. I am even prouder of the men and women of the Minneapolis Fire Department and the work they do for all of us every day.

The truth is this: We are well served by our Fire Department and will be into the future. I’ve made sure of it, and I will continue to.

Betsy Hodges
Ward 13 City Council Member and mayoral candidate