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City Hallways (Sept. 8): Fire halls becoming 'gender friendly'

Making fire halls more welcoming to women 

I noticed the Council earlier this week approved spending money on architectural/engineering studies to upgrade three firehouses. Among the improvements being sought for these firehouses are "gender-friendly privacy upgrades."

Translation: Proper bathroom and changing areas.

I remember sitting in Common Council chambers  over a year ago, hearing about how most city firehouses are so outdated that they don't have separate bathrooms or changing areas for women. Female firefighters often use makeshift facilities, or have access to officer facilities,  we were told.

And some of the men's facilities aren't the greatest either, we were told.

Right now, about 25 percent of the city's 20 firehouses have updated facilities for men and women, according to Fire Commissioner Whitfield. The recent Council approvals are the beginning of what is expected to be an upgrade of remaining fire halls, Whitfield said.

Brown v. Schroeder, Take 2?

As you may remember, the Brown Administration and city comptroller's office got into a public spat last year over the city's capital budget.

Mayor Brown wanted to spend $20.6 million, but Comptroller Schroeder said that because of higher-than-recommended borrowing the previous year, new borrowing should be capped at $17.5 million. The two eventually compromised at $18.6 million.

I bring this up because a representative from the comptroller's office, offering a preview of the upcoming capital budget season, recently said the comptroller's office wants new capital spending in the upcoming year capped at $15.4 million.

It's a discussion we'll likely hear again in a couple months, when Brown introduces his next capital budget.

By then, it's worth noting, we might know if Schroeder will be running against Brown in the 2017 mayoral race.

Today's calendar items
Swearing-in ceremony this afternoon for new class of fire recruits

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