Letters to the Editor

Defending Prince Fielder and Detroit EMS

Don't hate the player 

While I can see Jack Lessenberry's point concerning Prince Fielder ("Our values today," Feb. 1), there are several things he didn't mention that I believe warrant airing. One is that athletes are the labor force of the sports world, and I, for one, have a hard time criticizing any amount of money labor can get from corporate management. Secondly, the first person I heard criticize the amount of money that Prince Fielder will make was a racist. Again, I have a hard time thinking that it's terrible that a black man is being paid so much by a white man. Finally, does Mr. Lessenberry think the drastic alternative — a team that is in danger of losing more games than any other team — is preferable? If Mr. Illich isn't going to fund paying for children's teeth, then at least he isn't taking it all to the grave with himself. 

What really pissed me off about Mr. Lessenberry's piece, however, was his statement that a Republican "sounded ... like some demented member of the Weather Underground." Has Mr. Lessenberry ever read their collaborative book, Prairie Fire? It reads to me like a precursor to Howard Zinn's A People's History of the United States. It is, for me, their true legacy. They may have done and said some stupid things early on in their history, but Prairie Fire is hardly the result of dementia. He could've said that state Senator Roger Kahn sounded like one of the Minutemen, a 1960s right-wing terrorist group, instead. —Don Handy, Mount Clemens

No fire sale

Detroit City Council's proposal to privatize Emergency Medical Services is a desperate, misguided and uninformed attempt to show state auditors that "something" is being done. The city's own budget figures show that this will further harm a city that is on life support. According to the 2011-2012 adopted budget, the EMS division of the Fire Department comprises only 17 percent of total department staff, spends only 15.7 percent of total departmental budget, yet produces 80 percent of total department revenues ($18.2 million of $22.6 million).

The loss of this revenue will impact the entire department and likely result in the loss of a significant number of positions in the firefighting division and other areas. Other alternatives have not been seriously studied or considered. The EMS and firefighting divisions are administratively related, but their missions are very different. Combining operations from a logistical and labor relations perspective would be difficult, but not impossible, and could realize significant cost savings. Major cuts to the top-heavy administration is another option that can no longer be ignored.

Administrators have also failed to seek out grant money from Homeland Security, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the National Institutes of Health and other entities. Cooperative relationships with the Detroit and Wayne County health departments, the Detroit Medical Center and Wayne State University have not been explored. In other major cities, such relationships have led to programs that deliver health care more efficiently to urban residents and help relieve overburdened emergency medical services and hospital emergency departments. —James Atkinson, Royal Oak