John F. Schaffner
Bluffton University President James Harder came to Atlanta April 16 and made the rounds thanking agencies and individuals who helped the Ohio School’s baseball team in the wake of the fatal March 2 bus accident at the Northside Drive exit ramp off I-75.
Harder said the two-day visit was important for the school. It included stops at the Holiday Inn Express and Marriott hotels, which housed families of injured students; Grady and Atlanta Medical Centers where the players were treated and the Atlanta City Council, where he thanked firefighters and police and others.
During the City Council meeting, District 8 Councilmember Clair Muller, who represents the area of south Buckhead where the accident occurred, presented proclamation of appreciation to Harder, in honor of the university’s baseball team, and to Deputy Chief Harold Miller of the Atlanta Fire Rescue Department for the agency’s swift and heroic service as first emergency responders at the accident scene.
I don’t want to take anything away from the nature of the day at that council meeting. It was not a political event and there was no discussion of budgetary matters. The day had its purpose and the purpose of the events were good for all concerned.
I have been a lone voice for years among Atlanta’s media in saying the city’s firefighters get shortchanged in their pay and in respect for the job they do. An honor, such as the one presented by City Council on April 16 is always nice as a “feel good” gesture. But pay equity with their police partners in public service would mean even more to most of the firefighters.
In about a month or so, City Council will begin budget negotiations in earnest. I urge them to remember moments like those of March 2 and seriously consider pay equity for the city’s firefighters.