Got a job that’s too big or too messy to handle yourself?
Need to demolish that old deck? Uproot a plant?
Just call the friendly folks on the Isle of Palms.
That’s right — no more straining your back carrying furniture up and down the stairs of your raised beach house. No more messy stains on your clothes from lugging out the grill when — or if — spring arrives.
No job is too small. These amiable public servants will even move your birdbath. So call the city of Isle of Palms at 886-6428 to book your handyman today.
Here’s the best part: it’s free.
That’s the message Isle of Palms has put out since Channel 2’s Brad Franko reported that city firefighters moved a couch for a council member last December.
City officials said it’s no big deal, they do it for anyone who asks — have for years.
Now that everyone knows, the city had better have operators standing by.
Depending on who you talk to, this is either a big deal or it isn’t a deal at all.
So what if city employees go out and help someone for a minute? Residents are taxpayers, and a lot of them say it just enhances their Mayberry-by-the-sea image.
Not a bad point.
But look at it like an employee. What if your boss asked you to go do some manual labor for her boss? Would you be happy to help, or just feel like you couldn’t say no? Apparently some city employees are none too happy with this unwritten policy.
Michael Parrotta, president of the S.C. Professional Fire Fighters Association, says it’s an abuse of public service. “I haven’t heard of anything like this in 10 years,” Parrotta says. “This is not what the fire service is all about.”
He means those guys need to focus on rapid response, not rapid repairs.
Now, this isn’t Watergate.
City Councilwoman Barbara Bergwerf was donating a couch to someone, and this person came to get it in a U-Haul — but had no one to get it out of the house.
City Administrator Linda Tucker dispatched on-duty firefighters, not at Bergwerf’s request, they both say.
Normally, Tucker says, she would have sent the folks from Public Works, but they were gone for the day. So instead of Two Men and a Truck, they got five firefighters and two firetrucks.
Tucker says she has dispatched city workers to help residents with various household tasks, but can’t really say where the city draws the line.
Will firefighters come out and pressure wash your house, as one reader suggested? Would they plant a palm tree?
Those are good questions. Another one is what happens if one of these folks gets hurt doing a favor? Sounds like a worker’s comp nightmare.
If the city is going to do this, it needs a written policy fast — even if City Council is hesitant to micro-manage the administrator.
While they’re at it, they should probably hire a few more workers. Because if this is how government rolls on the IOP, you can bet people are going to take ’em up on it.
So act now — a deal like this can’t last forever.
Reach Brian Hicks at firstname.lastname@example.org.