Political Mail-Out Sparks Debate at Lubbock Council Meeting - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

4/22/04

Political Mail-Out Sparks Debate at Lubbock Council Meeting

Dan Burns's political mail-out sparked a heated exchange at the Lubbock City Council meeting. The conversation you are about to read is between Councilman Gary Boren, Mayor Marc McDougal, and Councilman Frank Morrison. "Why are we going to talk politics during a council meeting?" asked Boren. "I'll tell you why, because this is wrong, that's why. This will be discussed during the budget," said Mayor McDougal as he's holding up a copy of the political mail-out.

They were upset about the wording on Burns's political mail-out. It states, "Right now, our firefighters are forced to use old worn-out equipment and our police need updated technology."

Morrison received his mail-out last week, along with hundreds of other district four residents. "It was an outrage to me," said Morrison. And then the Mayor found out about it. "Forced to use old equipment' means to me that they (fire and police departments) came up here and said 'hey, we've got to have new equipment and new vehicles and we've refused to give it to them. That's not the case," said McDougal.

Morrison says the city budgets $20,000 every year for new helmets, boots, gloves and hoods. Fire Chief Steve Hailey says since 1996 the fire department has spent $2.7 million on life saving equipment.

District four candidate Dan Burns says he did not mean to criticize the city council by using the word "forced" in his mail-out. Burns says he meant that if he was elected, he would make sure the old equipment is replaced in a timely manner. "Do you still feel like they are forced to use this stuff?" asked NewsChannel 11. "Force may have been too harsh of a word, but the focus is on public safety and our commitment to public safety," answered Burns.

However, Mayor McDougal and Councilman Morrison feel the fire and police departments have the best equipment in order to get the job done.

By the way, the council never discussed the political ad in details during the meeting Thursday. Burns re-iterated that he didn't mean for his campaign flyer to spark such a debate. But he's clearly an advocate for the fire department as evidence by a $3,500 contribution to his campaign from the Lubbock Firefighters Union.

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