The person who made the most sense was First Ward City Councilman Kevin Johnson, who kept trying to keep the conversation on point based on the printout he had received from the City Auditor's Office.
The discrepancy, if there is one — and after the conversation no one is any closer to knowing whether there is or not — is that six people, dispatchers, may be listed in one department and being paid out of the other.
That is probably not a problem unless it never gets resolved.
The Charter calls for the Police and Fire departments to each have 44 employees and a chief, for a total of 90. But according to the printout, the Fire Department has 39 employees and the Police Department has 51, with the dispatchers that used to be under the Fire Department now listed under the Police Department.
There has to be a way in which it can be resolved, whether it is to simply go for a Charter change and adjust the number of employees in each of the departments, placing the dispatchers in one or the other, and paying them out of that account, or simply making "dispatch" a separate account, away from Police or Fire, then adjusting, by Charter change, the required number of uniform employees.
This is not rocket science, but right now it looks like a sophisticated shell game, and that only succeeds in confusing the public, which is the last thing city government needs to be doing.
Those two departments have great leaders. Police Chief Charles Horner and Fire Chief Bill Raison are two of the most respected people in the community, and they don't need the kind of confusion that seemed to permeate the air at Monday's City Council meeting.
Maybe if common sense would prevail in that situation it might rub off on the rest of city government, and that could lead to something that is much-needed at city hall — trust.
Perception is everything. It is not what is that people judge by, but what is perceived. And right now it is perceived that no one actually knows what is going on. And when that occurs history proves that people tend not to throw good money at bad situations.
It is time for our leaders to step up and look at the small pictures. It has been proven again and again if you stand back and look at all the little pictures, the big picture will suddenly come into focus.