Friday, March 18, 2011

How Politicians Are Using 911 Emergency Services to Scam Millions of Consumers

Alternet/ by David Rosen and Bruce Kusnick

Raiding 911 funds is an easy way for politicians to scoop up loose cash -- far easier than taxing the rich.

The Great Blizzard of 2010 dumped record levels of snow throughout the Northeast. On day one of the snowstorm, New York's 911 service got nearly 50,000 calls and, at its peak, had a backlog of 1,300 calls that almost brought the service to its knees. Sadly, the combination of 911 failures and the inability of EMS ambulances to get through the snowdrifts likely contributed to a number of needless deaths.

Many elected officials, most especially New York mayor Mike Bloomberg, were put on the proverbial hot seat over their failure to meet unprecedented volumes of emergency calls. After an initial phase of finger pointing and mea culpas, politicians made their customary promises to make sure such a crisis would not happen again. Fortunately, while this was a record year for snowstorms, none was as devastating as the initial December 2010 blizzard.

More troubling for long-term civil society, none of these officials, let alone the less-then-attentive commercial news media, identified the deeper problems besetting 911 services. Hundreds of millions of dollars are collected annually by states and localities to support 911 services and much of it is diverted to plug state budget holes and meet a host of other demands. Most disturbing, 911 services are technologically bankrupt, held together by duct-tape and workarounds.

Click here to read the full article.

Alternet/ by David Rosen and Bruce Kusnick

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