Nearly every day there is a front page headline announcing a teen shooting or a report of gunfire, fights and burglaries in Sunnyside. Not making the headlines, but no less damaging to the community, are reports of child neglect, domestic violence, sexual assaults, runaways and missing persons. These are reports to the Sunnyside Police Department made by you, the citizens, reported in the media by local reporters.
With the Sunnyside City Council moving to balance its budget by cutting the number of police officers patrolling our fair, yet crime-ridden, city, it makes you wonder if they don't hear the sirens screaming around town all day long coming to the rescue of citizens in jeopardy. Maybe the city council hasn't been out around the schools in the afternoon, when kids start heckling each other on the way home each day and get into fights.
In the same breath that the Sunnyside City Council wants to cut the police force, they are suggesting that the programs, which should be giving kids, in particular, a safe environment after school, should also be cut. When it comes to balancing the city budget, the desire to eliminate the city parks and recreation programs seems to always be the first place attacked by the city bean counters.
I believe that reducing law enforcement and cutting recreation programs is the very last place a city should look to balance an out-of-whack budget. How can we claim to support and cherish our children if we continue to throw them under the truck the first time we have money woes? How can we say we believe in a safe and secure community for all ages when we continually cut services to the most vulnerable members of our society?
I ask that the city council sharpen their collective pencils and rethink their attack on the budget. I ask that the city council please consider the safety of all citizens first.
I also ask that the community attend a meeting at the Sunnyside Community Center scheduled for Thursday, Sept. 11, at 6 p.m. to hear what cuts are being considered in the city parks and recreation department.
/s/ Julia Hart, Sunnyside