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City Hall security guards may be targeted for layoffs

by Steve Marantz
Tuesday, April 1, 2003

Twelve City Hall security guards are on Mayor Thomas M. Menino's chopping block, even as Boston beefs up security amid terrorist threats during the war in Iraq, sources said.

The layoffs, needed to offset a $65 million cut in state aid for fiscal year 2004, will decimate the 26-member security guard contingent. The security team was beefed up after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks and trained to operate X-ray machines and metal detectors, while saving approximately $300,000.

``Don't cut security - they need security in this building,'' said a security guard who declined to be named.

The Herald reported in May that City Hall security guards had barred dozens of visitors carrying knives and guns from entering the building.

The guards staff public entrances at Congress Street and City Hall Plaza. A guard also is assigned to an X-ray machine at the loading dock.

Sources said Municipal Police site officers could be transferred to City Hall to fill in for the laid-off security guards.

But if Municipal Police officers are moved to City Hall, other city buildings and parks will lose coverage, sources said.

The domino effect may affect Boston Housing Authority tenants, sources said, as 25 Municipal Police officers were shifted away from public housing duty yesterday.

Menino has said he will lay off 450 to 550 workers from city departments in addition to as many as 1,200 school department employees. Police officers and firefighters may be among those losing jobs.

Mayoral spokesman Dewayne Lehman said yesterday that ``everything is still on the table'' and targeted cuts won't be finalized until the end of the week.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
and it gets better.........................

Mayor mask$ concern about terror attack

by Steve Marantz
Wednesday, April 2, 2003

1. Mayor Thomas M. Menino has been fitted for a special gas mask - extra large - and has spent $75,000 on a plush, top secret ``situation'' room in City Hall to prepare for a potential terrorist attack.
Menino declined to discuss the details of his gas mask, described by sources as an extra-large. He also declined to indicate which, if any, other members of his administration were assigned gas masks.
``We don't discuss security issues with the press,'' Menino said. ``It's a different era we live in today - we must all be prepared.''
The first-floor situation room, replacing a one-time nurse's office, cost $75,000 to outfit, officials said.
The room has dedicated communications lines to other critical city buildings, such as police and fire headquarters, Menino said.
``This is part of homeland security, so we could be in communication with other departments,'' Menino said.
City Hall security guards, facing 12 layoffs from their staff of 26, claim the situation room cost at least $100,000 and is unnecessary because an emergency command center already exists on the seventh floor of City Hall.
The command center is used during weather emergencies and was the room from which Menino directed the city's security effort on the eve of the year 2000 - when there were rampant concerns about computer malfunctions.
But Menino said the older command center is not designed for terrorist emergencies.
``That's a traffic control room,'' Menino said. ``It doesn't have telecom capabilities so I can talk with other departments.''
Menino said the costs of his gas mask and of the situation room should be covered by the state's $11.8 million share of federal homeland security funds.
``For 19 months we used city funds to make sure the city was secure - this is the first sign of relief,'' Menino said. ``Seventy-five percent of that money is supposed to go to cities and towns.''
The situation room includes, among other high-tech electronics, two wall-mounted cameras, two Sony Trinitron TVs, two Dell desktop computers, UBL speakers, a Crestron sound control system, a Sharp multimedia projector, two Panasonic VCRs, an Extron video interface and Polycom conference telephone with ``acoustic clarity.''
It is furnished with new carpeting, a conference table, eight cushioned conference chairs, a stove, two Summit refrigerators, a General Electric Trixon dishwasher and a Panasonic Genius Microwave.

A spokesman for the U.S. Conference of Mayors said yesterday he was not aware of another mayor being fitted for a gas mask.
``I haven't heard it come up in the homeland security discussions I sat in on,'' said spokesman Andy Solomon.
Battery-operated gas masks cost as much as $500, while masks without batteries cost $169 plus $46 for filters, said Rebecca Vaughan, sales manager for Neoteric Health Technologies, a Maryland-based distributor.
``A lot of government workers in D.C. have been issued them - we've had a lot of requests from diplomats and local embassies,'' Vaughan said.
Some officials have been fitted for protective chemical suits, she said. Menino said he does not have a protective suit.
``I'm trying to deal with homeland security, moving the city forward, and budget restraints,'' Menino said. ``It's much more difficult than it was two years ago.''
 
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