Ted Siefer's City Hall: AMR ambulance service makes mind-boggling recovery
Less than a year ago, the city launched an audit of AMR, its designated emergency ambulance provider, following a deluge of complaints over large bills and aggressive collection practices. On Monday, the fire chief and members of the aldermen's Committee on Administration recommended that AMR be given a new 5½-year contract.
Perhaps what was most mind-boggling was the change of heart by Alderman At-Large Dan O'Neil, who had been strident in his criticism of AMR, citing his wife's experience wrestling with a large bill from the company.
The suggestion by some that the firefighters union had thrown its weight behind AMR was not contradicted by the appearance, at the review committee meeting of a letter from the president of the International Association of Fire Fighters. It accused American Ambulance Service of trying to "manipulate" the bid process by suggesting in a letter filed with its proposal that American had IAFF support "where none exists."
Gatsas noted it's been months since "he's heard any complaints."
"The ultimate recommendation is the fire chief, and the ultimate decision comes from the Board of Mayor and Aldermen," he said.
Dick said the difference between what the union and the district proposed was separated by only $1.2 million. And he noted that this was nearly the amount the aldermen sent to the district as part of its final budget.
"It's not the employees' job to pay for more employees," Dick said. "I don't think a guy at the convenience store says to his boss, 'Let me give you a couple bucks so you can hire another guy,'" he said.
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