- Angelo v McCowen
- Douglas Roycroft
- Sacred Sandbar
- Ponds Panned
- Nutmeg Hunting
- Little Dog
- Marijuana Legislation
- Saint Purdy
- Lake County
- Market Closes
- Gorgeous Spring
- 10 Hours
- Yesterday's Catch
- PG&E Bleeding
- Retirement Age
- Peer Pressure
- Immigration Policies
- Kid Costs
ANGELO V. MCCOWEN
by Mark Scaramella
WILL SUPERVISOR MCCOWEN be the next high-ranking County official to disappear?
A parade of top Mendo officials have departed in recent months, and the thing they seem to have in common is they somehow got on the wrong side of the highly irritable County CEO Carmel Angelo.
FIRST, there was Alan ‘The Kid’ Flora whose unceremonious no-notice Friday morning expulsion was never reasonably explained. He was followed out the door by Interim Ag Commissioner Diane Curry who had had the temerity to point out how cumbersome the pot permit program had become. Then Joe Moreo, a distinguished senior Ag Commissioner from Modoc County who arrived with great fanfare lasted just a week and who left, apparently, when told he would not have authority over the County’s unwieldy cannabis permit program which he was told he was hired to improve.
NOW this week, prompted by an inquiry from Willits Weekly reporter Mike A’Dair, we learn that the County’s much-ballyhooed “Pot Czar” Kelly Overton has abruptly “resigned” without further explanation. (Clearly there was a huge gap between what he was expected to do to “streamline” the permit process and what he could do given the program’s many complexities and outside agency involvements.)
THE COUNTY’S POT PERMIT PROGRAM, ultimately the brainchild of the how-many-angels-can-dance-on-the-head-of-pin mind of Supervisor John McCowen who espouses its intricate wonders at every opportunity, has been declared a financial failure with something like $1 million in “under-realized” revenues while staff costs in several departments were ballooning — and while permit processing and new applications ground to a slow crawl.
WE SUSPECT that a backroom tug-of-war has arisen between Supervisor McCowen and CEO Angelo. McCowen wants to see his faltering Pot Permit Program limp into some kind of budget neutral status in the next year or two. While County CEO Carmel Angelo, whose primary — not to say only — priority is looking good to her outside auditors and rating agencies, wants to make the County’s overtaxed General Fund appear to be balanced this year.
IT DIDN’T HELP when the budget took several big hits on top of the “under-realized” pot permit revenues. The stumbling leadership had to find $1 million to keep the tiny Juvenile Hall open (largely the result of non-management in the wake of the on-duty sexual dalliances of former Chief Probation Officer Pam Markham and associated overhead costs) on top of huge salary increases to the Supervisors and most of the County’s top officials, a large decrease in property tax revenues due to last fall’s destructive fires (although there’s a chance the state may reimburse some of that), and an across the board increase in County employee salaries.
FURTHER EVIDENCE of this ever-growing budget problem was CEO Angelo’s arbitrary zeroing out of Sheriff’s Department overtime even though everybody knows it’ll be well north of $1 million, in spite of Angelo’s promise to keep monthly track of it. (Angelo grudgingly allowed the Supes to put $300k in the Sheriff’s overtime budget line even though everyone knows that’s just as ridiculous.)
THAT BACKGROUND is probably what led to Supervisor John McCowen proposing a review of the County’s new hiring freeze: a somewhat artificial attempt to keep 10% of the County's many funded vacancies vacant from July 1, 2018 to June 30, 2019. McCowen is apparently worried that letting CEO Angelo have unilateral hiring authority (or more accurately not hiring) might further jeopardize the pot permit program.
McCOWEN is right that the Board must be involved in salary freezes, of course. It wasn’t that many years ago when, in the aftermath of the 2009 recession-driven budget crunch, Angelo and the Board went through departmental job title lists together line by line to determine which ones could be retained.
SOME OF THIS is speculation, of course. But given the nature of CEO Angelo’s overheated rhetoric on the subject at last Tuesday’s Board of Supervisors meeting — McCowen had only proposed discussing it — it’s hard to come up with another explanation:
McCowen: “As we are all aware, CEO Angelo invoked a hiring freeze recently in the wake of the Board’s budget approval and the decision to keep juvenile hall open and to fund that with projected salary savings and an increase in the anticipated vacancy rate [from 5% to 10%]. I'm the first to concede that I don't know exactly how that direction will go and where the money will be on that line item. I'm confident there will be money from other line items and that we will have a balanced budget. We have as part of the CEO report 134 approved but vacant positions. Of course many of those are non-general fund. Anyway, primarily I believe that the decision to have a hiring freeze or not ought to be a board direction and so I'm requesting that that be an agenda item at the next meeting for the Board to consider all the merits and potential concerns around the hiring freeze. And then, either ratify the action of the CEO or perhaps revise or rescind.”
Board Chair Dan Hamburg; “Very good. Another thing I want to mention is — what? I'm sorry. CEO Angelo?”
CEO Angelo reacted immediately.
Angelo: “Chair Hamburg, Supervisor McCowen, if this board takes away my ability to do a hiring freeze it is taking away my ability to balance the budget. You are impeding my ability to do the job you have asked me to do. So I'm really surprised at Supervisor McCowen’s comment and request and I would say again that I don't know why you would do that.”
Angelo repeated herself: “Again, I don't know why you would do that comment and request. And I would say again that I don't know why you would do that.”
Angelo repeated herself again, this time more emphatically: “I mean, first of all we had a 5% and then we had a 10%. If you take away my ability to tell a department head that they can either hire or not hire you are absolutely taking away my ability to balance this budget. It will be a free-for-all!”
Hamburg: “Well, any board member can request an item for the agenda so I don't think I can stop you [McCowen] from making an agenda item if that's what you want to do.”
McCowen: “Thank you Mr. Chair. And I do. And with all due respect I do think that the decision to declare a hiring freeze is really a policy matter and as I stated I think with or without it we will have a balanced budget. But I am concerned about other aspects of the message that it sends. We struggle to recruit and we still have 134 vacant positions today. So I don't know about the reference to a free-for-all. I think we can try as diligently as possible to hire and maintain staff and we are still going to have a significant vacancy factor. And again I do request this be an agenda item. It shouldn't be a total surprise. We have had the discussion previously including today. So if it does become an agenda item it will be a board decision as to what we do.”
At least two other supervisors went on record as being reluctant to cross CEO Angelo.
Supervisor Croskey: “I'm happy to go into further discussion on an agenda item. But in my opinion a hiring freeze is not a policy. I think the policy is that we want a balanced budget. We use carryover funds for our reserves and things like that. I think we give a lot of power to the CEO to follow those policies but I don't think a hiring freeze is necessarily a policy. But I'm happy to discuss things further in an agenda item.”
Hamburg: “I would tend to agree with Supervisor Croskey but I am not sure. I would have to know a little bit more. I'm not sure if it's a policy item or if it is something that I — but I do think the CEO is our — the person that we hire, whose primary responsibility is to balance the budget and I think that if that is her — the way that she has chosen to try to accomplish that — again, my tendency would be to stand behind that decision. So I don't know. What do you want to do?”
McCowen didn’t budge: “Agenda item.”
Supervisors Carre Brown and Dan Gjerde declined comment on the subject. But given her past record, Brown is highly unlikely to oppose anything CEO Angelo wants. And lately Gjerde seems to have disappeared on all issues.
SO WILL McCOWEN be the next pot permit program casualty?
In trying to run down video of Donald Strauss performing I've been told Douglas Roycroft also is dead. He posted on various listservs for years under the name BigDoug.
Thirty-five years ago Douglas Roycroft had a bookstore within Kay Rudin's Art Attack shop where he sold mainly books about the history of war, Jane's Fighting Ships, Civil War battle memoirs, that sort of thing. Then he ran Fiddlers' Green bookstore on Laurel for many years. A lot of people working in that area of town used the toilet there, that he generously made public and kept stocked with appropriate supplies. It was in a tiny outbuilding on the side-back, with "Agony Room" painted on the door in dripping red letters. There was a sink to wash your hands, but the room was so tiny that if you widgied yourself in to sit on the toilet your knees would press against the plumbing. Provocative postcards were pinned up at eye level. Cracks in the wall slats afforded a view of galvanized trash cans and the side door of the cafe to the west.
Douglas was rabidly anti-vaccination as a result of his son's early medical problems which he blamed entirely on incompetent doctors. He believed in the efficacy of magical spells, though, and often posted messages to the MCN Discussion listserv daring his debate opponents to send him samples of their hair or fingernails so he could curse them and prove his point, whatever point he was on at the time.
Douglas played a lovely antique battered trumpet in the Bob Ayres Big Band and, as trumpeters do, he became increasingly pyramidal as he got older. A car crash — not his fault — put him in what they call convalescence in a facility in Healdsburg, where I visited him once and brought him lemon-creme sandwich cookies and a fresh mouse for his computer, and he got out of there after awhile, but his health continued to decline.
He was born Feb. 12, 1938, he was a Wobbly to the end. He claimed his employment involved the Independent Order of Odd Fellows.
NAVARRO RIVER SANDBAR FIRMLY IN PLACE
The infamous "Sacred Cow" sandbar is firmly in place at the mouth of the Navarro River. Last year, for the first time in the 24 years MSP has been on the coast, the sandbar was breached the entire summer - it closed in the Fall.
The last reading from the upstream USGS river gauge (11:15 am) the river level was 1.60'.
But there was still a good "discharge" estimated at the gauge (the amount of water headed toward the sandbar) - 24.7 cubic feet of water per second. Put into understandable terms, that's 183 gallons per second, 10,967 gallons per hour and 658,008 gallons per hour.
CITY COUNCIL PANS THE MILL PONDS
by Rex Gressett
Echos and murmurs of the deliberations of government come down to us in bits and pieces. We trust our elected representatives to guard our interests and protect us from the arbitrary abuse of power. We hold the City Council responsible every couple of years. If we are attentive, we know what they decide, but the nuts and bolts of policy are negotiated in offices and conferences very far from public scrutiny, often without input from the City Council, sometimes without their knowledge. The Council votes and we know what their decisions are, but we rarely know the inside story.
We know for example in Fort Bragg that the California DTSC (Department of Toxic Substances Control), that vast and massively funded scientific and regulatory institution, has made the decision after the expenditure of $38 million of GP’s money, to simply fence off the dangerous toxic wetlands on the old mill site. We are offered the comfort that since we will not be allowed to go there, our safety is assured.
The discussions and conferences where they worked out the mill pond decision were complex, extending over many months. The people were handed the outcome. But while they were working that out neither the people nor the City Council were informed even partially of the negotiations between the $800 billion corporate owners, and the many state agencies that participated, and our Development Director. We were never told of the pressures that GP brought to bear or the substance of the compromises that were adopted. We are now assured that a fenced off toxic area in the midst of our town is the best decision. In the aftermath of the announcement, the City Council has expressed no opinion.
Neither the people nor the Council knew what our own Fort Bragg representative Development Director Ms. Marie Jones was doing because she derisively and indignantly refused to provide even general details. No reports were presented, no accounting of the long negotiation was made, either to the public or the City Council. She was a one-man baseball team and insisted that was her right. "We have lots of meetings," she told the Mayor, "I can’t report on all of them."
We know that the City Council passed a resolution almost a year ago to insist on a thorough clean up of the mill site, much in accordance with popular opinion. We know that resolution came to nothing. We do not know why.
In Fort Bragg the petty theater of City Council meetings is not the substance of government. In a culture of transparency, the craven financial irresponsibility of our former City Manager was allowed to metastasize. The impact of Ms. Linda Ruffing’s financial machinations still reverberates through city finances. Its full scope is only gradually coming to light, but it is certain that Ms. Ruffing’s manipulation of finance, was not an isolated abuse of power at City Hall. The Fort Bragg Development Department is at least equally autonomous and arrogantly non-transparent. Behind the scenes dealing continues in the person of Ms. Ruffing's long-term second in command.
Council acquiescence and casual acceptance of decisions made by employees putatively responsible to the Council is the most defining feature of city government in Fort Bragg. In fairness, the members of the City Council are part-timers. They have other full-time jobs. They have not the time and are not paid sufficiently to conduct a stringent intensive oversight. When they provide direction to the Administration the Council treads lightly. They are uncertain, very conscious of their dignity, and terribly afraid to probe or even ask questions of professionals almost always more informed than they are. The imbalance in authority between the professionals at city hall and the City Council is so ingrained that there is an unmistakable undercurrent of contempt by department heads for the elected representatives who are supposed to be their bosses.
Blaming the bureaucrats generally is painting with too broad a brush, the problem is systemic. There are people at City Hall of impeccable responsibility and candor. June Lemos, our recently much-abused City Clerk, is a rare gem of administrative excellence. Our new city manager Tabatha Miller, brought in under emergency conditions to replace Ms. Ruffing, has already demonstrated competence and genuine initiative. But the process of government is firmly in the hands of a system only tangentially responsible to the City Council. The Council checks the boxes that they are given, rubberstamps the determinations that are made for them, and contents itself with rowing in the direction that the current is flowing.
The power in Fort Bragg does not reside in Town Hall, it lives a private life in City Hall. The mill pond clean up has for a moment lifted the curtain.
ODD TREE OUT – THE SEQUEL
by Marshall Newman
Readers of the Anderson Valley Advertiser may remember my “Odd Tree Out” article back in April, which detailed discovery of some young examples of the rare California nutmeg tree west of Philo. Several commented on the article and provided the locations of full-sized California nutmeg trees within Anderson Valley, though none near my discovery. At the end of the article I expressed the hope I would eventually find mature California nutmeg trees nearby, trees whose seeds could have produced the youngsters.
It took a couple of months, but I found them.
Oddly, the first mature California nutmeg tree I found was not where I expected it to be; upslope and very close to the young trees. Instead it was well downslope and perhaps a quarter mile away. Tucked into a very narrow, steep gully, the tree was so hidden I nearly missed it. This tree isn’t impressive; perhaps eight inches in diameter and 30 feet tall. Situated on rocky residual soil in deep shade, it very may well be 50 to 100 years old, far older than its size suggests.
That discovery was topped in early June, when I took a cross country ramble a full half mile from the young trees. As I worked my way down a small draw, I saw a few young California nutmeg. Then a few bigger ones. Eventually I reached a spot where they were everywhere I looked; California nutmegs of various sizes in surprising numbers. Again, the mature trees weren’t very big, but this singular spot clearly offers ideal growing conditions to harbor so many examples.
The California nutmeg in either of these locations could have produced the seeds from which my original discovery trees grew, but probably didn’t. California nutmeg seeds are big and bulky, and therefore likely to sprout near their “parent tree” rather than be carried to a new location by birds. The “parent tree” remains elusive, at least for now.
The other takeaway from these new discoveries is that California nutmeg grows only in locations with very specific conditions: shady, south-facing, often steep slopes with thin, rocky soils. Both discovery sites were surrounded by similar – indeed, almost indistinguishable - land, except the trees weren’t there. The California nutmeg is a very finicky tree.
I may continue to look for the “parent tree.” Or not. Now that I have found mature California nutmeg in the same general area as the young trees, the need to find that specific tree is gone. Sometimes, close is good enough.
LITLE DOG SAYS, “Yo, Skrag! You groovin' with me at Rasta Fest this weekend? ‘You're so uncool, Little Dog. Miles is where it's at, you lame-o.’ Why do I even bother to be civil to this feline jerk?”
A READER WRITES: "By the way, you couldn't be more right than when stating that additional column inches covering the trials and tribulations of the marijuana legalization process would be exceedingly boring to some of your readers. When you were in Oregon and Severn was running the paper, I almost had to let my subscription lapse. Personally, even though I've been against the continuing senseless waste of time and resources that prohibition has represented, I voted NO on our own Colorado Proposition 64 a few years ago just because I refuse to get behind any marijuana legislation that opens the door for well financed profiteers without addressing the release of prisoners currently doing time for marijuana related convictions. It's typical of the self-absorption of most potheads that I've yet to see any legalization proposal in any state that carries language addressing this issue."
CARL PURDY is now a botanical saint, but those in the know decades ago blamed him for driving certain species to near extinction. Digging bulbs of mariposa lilies, selling them to, locales where they would die... etc
Lake County, “a bona fide rural area” is indeed a world apart — above but not beyond the reach of urban escapees, although its desperate retail marketeers and tourism floggers fail to understand and encourage the real attractions that make Lake County a great place to live. Perhaps not such a great place to visit, for hype-seeking recreational ruminants — but for those who bring their families to enjoy the easy outdoor fun and unsophisticated entertainments Lake County is a year-round trip down a nostalgic path to small schools, inter-familial competitive sports, local agriculture and farmers markets, homespun symphony and theater productions, original (if not extraordinary) arts and crafts, and good-old-fashioned Gibbsville politics. Resistant to 21st Century modernization, like “broadband” and “smart meters,” museums and parks remain the central features of community education, and local “newspapers” seldom report more than the usual auto wrecks, domestic crimes, and pre-digested public health announcements. Oh, yeah, with the oldest natural lake in the western hemisphere, polluted and poisoned but pretty — and highly flammable/fragile hillsides descending from mountainous watersheds to gutterless ghettos of parolees and welfare babies, plagued with nail salons and massage parlors, cannabis cures and psychic readers to pass the time between doctors appointments and listening for sirens. (Betsy Cawn)
BOONVILLE FARMERS' MARKET CLOSES
For the past two months Petit Teton Farm tried to keep a market going in Boonville, but too few customers showed up to justify the effort. We thank Johnny Schmitt and the rest of the Boonville Hotel management for allowing us to run the market in their parking lot. We also thank Natural Products of Boonville and Yorkville Ranch Olive Oil for regularly vending with us. Perhaps someone will try to revive the market at some future date.
And a big thank you to those handful of faithful locals who regularly attended the market. We invite you to come out to the farm to shop. Petit Teton Farm is open every day from 9-5 except Friday, 9-3 and Sunday, noon-5. If you have questions or requests please call 707.684.4146 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We will let you know what is available each week and can pick and pack for you prior to your visit. This week we have: meats - pork, beef, squab. Veggies - Walla Walla onions, red of Tropea onions, Napa cabbage, shelling peas, cherry tomatoes, Espelette peppers. Eggs. Canned goods - from soups to jams, krauts to pickles, relishes to chutneys. We welcome visitors.
Yorkville Ranch Olive Oil is just a few miles further south of us and Ron would welcome your visit to him as well - email@example.com.
Should you want mushrooms, contact Trout at Natural Products of Boonville - firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Yorkville Olive Ranch would like to express appreciation to Nikki and Steve of Petite Teton for their efforts to keep a farmers market operating in Boonville. Small farming operations face many challenges in producing their crop or product, but they: have an equally daunting task of bringing that product to market where and to whom to sell, and how. Farmers Markets are often an essential marketing tool for those small producers. :Now such a market no longer exists in Boonville, and that is regrettable.
The Yorkville Olive Ranch welcomes visitors on Saturday mornings at the ranch at 23401 Hwy. 128 in Yorkville from 9:00 to 1:00. Call 894-0530 to make an appointment for other times during the week. Both the 2016 and 2017 Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Tuscan Field Blend are available in the 375 ml and 750 ml bottles. Our Meyer Lemon Infused Tuscan Olive Oil is available in the 375 ml bottle.. Bulk sales of a gallon or more are also available, and that is a way to get award-winning extra virgin olive oil at a real discount. Yorkville Olive Ranch EVOO can also be found at a number of stores, restaurants, and tasting rooms along the 128 corridor from Yorkville to Philo. Please give them your business. Thank you.
Harvest is on and tomatoes are trickling in. Brock Farms is open daily 9am till dusk. 895-3407
REPORT FROM A SMALL FARM
Petit Teton Monthly Farm Report - May 2018
We are trying to ignore the "news" since it is too horrifying to think or talk about especially as we feel that despite donating, screaming, writing, calling politicians, etc., our hands are tied and our voices are muffled. The end isn't coming fast enough for our mental health. So, ignoring the news - it's been a gorgeous spring. The abundant rain the year before this one may have had something to do with it. All the trees, shrubs and perennials have had exuberant growth. With the picture window opened wide we sit at breakfast mesmerized listening to and watching the multitude of birds living and breeding in our garden, the garden we created from a cracked earth, weed infested, blackberry and poison oak entangled ugliness into a garden of Eden. The scents, colors and textures change seasonally but right now, the last day of spring, everything is blooming and vibrant. We just had the 5th and last of the nasty bull pines on the property, this one abutting the front yard garden, taken down which will probably cause more changes in the garden.
This tree, aka Monterey pine, was nearly 100' tall and loomed over the house and garden dwarfing a regal old valley oak of nearly 75' that embraces and is mother to the entire garden. The trunk and wood chunks from the downed tree are lying at the base of the the 3.5' wide stump and will be bucked and split once fall rolls around. Unfortunately the wood is as unwanted as the tree...it's way too sappy for burning...so we let it rot and use it for mulch. The best part of the giant is the mountain of wood chips created by the branches and needles, gold to us since once it composts we use it to loosen the soil. Have a good solstice and we'd love to hear from you.
—Nikki Auschnitt & Steve Kreig
MORE EVIDENCE THE END TIMES ARE UPON US
On June 20, 2018 at approximately 1:38 PM, Mendocino County Sheriff's Deputies were dispatched to a reported coroners case involving an small child at Howard Memorial Hospital in Willits. Deputies arrived and learned the child, identified as Chergery Teywoh Lew Mays (an 18 month old male) had been brought to the hospital by his mother, Alexandrea Raven Scott, 23, of Trinidad. The child died after unsuccessful attempts to revive him.
Initial investigations indicated the child had been accidentally left inside a vehicle for several hours while Scott was at a residence in the 2600 block of Mitomkai Way in Willits. Deputies summoned the assistance of Mendocino County Sheriff's Detectives and further investigations were conducted. Investigators learned the involved vehicle had been used by Scott's friend to transport her and the child to the hospital but had returned to the Mitomkai Way residence while Scott remained at the hospital. Investigators responded to the Mitomkai Way residence locating the vehicle and witnesses to the incident. After investigating this incident, Mendocino County Sheriff's Detectives determined Scott arrived at the Mitomkai Way residence around 3:00 AM on 06-20-2018. Once there, Scott, who resides in Humboldt County, socialized with people while leaving her child in the back seat of her car which was parked in front of the residence with the windows rolled up. It is believed the child was left unattended in the back seat of the vehicle with the windows rolled up for about 10 hours. Scott was subsequently arrested and booked into the Mendocino County Jail for willfully causing or permitting a child to suffer great bodily injury or death and being a parent having care and custody of child allowing child to suffer great bodily injury or death. A Mendocino County Superior Court Judge was contacted about Scott's bail and Scott is now being held without bail. Any persons with information about Scott and her activities between 06-19-2018 and 06-20-2018 are encouraged to contact the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office tip-line at 707-234-2100.
CATCH OF THE DAY, June 21, 2018
ALICIA CAMPBELL, Willits. Controlled substance, failure to appear, probation revocation.
DEREK DAVIS, Covelo. Domestic abuse.
MELISSA HOPLOCK, Willits. Domestic battery.
ZACHARY IRVEN, Fort Bragg. Disturbing the peace, vandalism.
BARRY KIRKPATRICK JR., Ukiah. DUI.
DUSTIN MARKS, Hilmar/Willits. Parole violation.
BILL MITCHELL, Willits. Domestic abuse.
ALEXANDRA SCOTT, Trinidad/Ukiah. Willful cruelty to child.
MICHELLE ULVILA, Willits. DUI-drugs.
PG&E STARTS TO BLEED
This $2.5 Billion Wildfire Charge May Be Just the Beginning for California Utilities. Faulted in deadly fires, PG&E takes $2.5 billion charge and warns of more.
“…PG&E's estimate also takes into account ‘the current state of the law on inverse condemnation.’ This is an important addition, as it refers to an unusual set of legal precedents in California state law that can hold utilities liable for property damages and attorneys’ fees if its equipment was a substantial cause of a fire, even if it followed established inspection and safety rules. PG&E has been working with state lawmakers and Gov. Jerry Brown on legislation that could reduce its financial exposure under this legal doctrine.”
ON LINE COMMENT OF THE DAY
Raising the retirement age only compounds the unemployment problem as well. They should be looking to trim the employment rolls of the elderly so that the youth can get the few remaining jobs left. In fact, I read a compelling analysis back in 2008-9 arguing that rather than TARP and all the other bailout shenanigans they resorted too, they should have paid off all those eligible for SS above a certain age (50, I think?) at the time with a one time cash payout of several million dollars (I can’t remember the exact figure) and then told them to go away. It would have been a huge cash infusion into the economy exactly when it needed it the most and it would have trimmed the employment rolls of deadwood and the unemployment rolls of those desperately needing a job. Instead, here we sit still, waiting patiently for our terminal demise. Pensions in general – both public and private – are Ponzi scheme fool’s gold. They’ll be gone in an instant when the next long-overdue crash arrives.
“Come on kid, register to vote. Everybody’s doin’ it.”
LIBERALS DISCOVER FAMILY SEPARATION
by Ruben Navarrette
In the words attributed to the great Panamanian boxer Roberto Duran: “No mas!” I can’t take it anymore.
Even as a Mexican-American “Never Trumper” who has been attacked for three decades by racists and restrictionists for defending illegal immigrants, I’ve had my fill of the recent surge of convenient and politically driven outrage over the policy of separating families. According to the Department of Homeland Security, as many as 2,342 children were taken into custody from May 5 to June 9.
It’s tempting to join the liberal media chorus and blame the ghastly practice of separating families solely on President Donald Trump’s “zero-tolerance” policy, which he reversed on Wednesday. The administration’s “axis of evil” — White House aide Stephen Miller, Attorney General Jeff Sessions and White House chief of staff and former Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly — had made it clear that they wanted to punish parents who come here illegally by confiscating their children at the border as a form of deterrence.
If only life were that simple. I’ll admit that it’s not exactly responsible parenting to bring your child with you while entering the United States illegally, if you’ll admit that neither is leaving your child to the tender mercies of ruthless and violent gangs in Central America. If you never have to make that choice, be grateful. And — if you host a talk show on Fox News — you should also be quiet.
And yet, those of us who follow the immigration debate closely year in and year out — and not just when there’s a Republican in the White House — and who remember the atrocities committed by the Obama administration will have difficulty pinning the current border crisis entirely on President Trump.
I’ll leave that trick to partisan Democrats with bad memories. For instance, it was priceless to see what Sen. Dianne Feinstein said about the border crisis of summer 2014, when more than 100,000 women and children from Central America came across the US-Mexico border. Feinstein claims she was totally unaware that President Barack Obama had reinstated a policy of incarcerating immigrant families at the border. That story was hard to miss.
Now, with Trump in the White House, it’s a new day. Who knew that liberals, Democrats and Trump-haters cared so much about the well-being of immigrant and refugee children who get separated from their parents?
Especially given how indifferent many of those same folks seemed just four or five years ago when the president doing the separating was a Democrat. Of course, there is a difference — location. Donald Trump has divided families when they first cross the US-Mexico border; Obama preferred to let them get settled in the interior and then send Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents to arrest mommy or daddy at home or work, leaving the children behind.
During the Obama years, more than 40,000 US-born kids whose parents had been deported were dumped into foster care.
Ironically, it was Obama who — in addressing the National Council of La Raza on July 15, 2008, in San Diego — decried “when nursing mothers are torn from their babies, when children come home from school to find their parents missing.”
Now liberals — latenight talk-show hosts, Hollywood celebrities, media commentators, Democratic politicians, et al — who have discovered the immigration issue are up in arms because that sort of thing is happening again.
It never stopped happening.
The Border Patrol has more than its share of burned-out, tunnel-visioned, sadistic bullies who are often indifferent to human suffering and play God with desperate immigrants.
These civil servants didn’t do all this during the George W. Bush administration and then go on an extended vacation for the eight years of the Obama administration. They were on the job from 2009 to 2017. You just weren’t paying attention.
One person who did pay attention was Rep. Henry Cuellar, D-Texas, who recently told CNN’s Fredricka Whitfield that, while immigrant families were separated during the last crisis, “the Obama administration was trying to keep this quiet.”
Unfortunately, you won’t stay woke. If Democrats retake the White House, you’ll go back to ignoring what happens on the border. In criticizing the Trump administration for separating families — a righteous beef, if you ask me — liberals have gone from sanctimonious to silly.
Still, I guess that’s an improvement over what they were the last time this happened: silent.
THE COST OF KEEPING MIGRANT KIDS separated from their families in so-called “tent cities” far outstrips that of keeping them with their parents, NBC News reports. Citing figures from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, NBC reports it costs $775 per child per night to keep children detained in the newly created tent cities; it costs $256 per person per night to hold children in permanent HHS facilities. Moreover, keeping children with their parents in detention centers like the one run by U.S. Customs and Immigration Enforcement in Dilley, Texas, cost $298 per resident per night, according to an agency estimate. The reason for the higher cost, one HHS official told NBC News, is that they need to bring in “security, air conditioning, medical workers, and other government contractors,” which far exceeds the cost for facilities that are already routinely staffed. NBC calculates the additional cost to operate a 400-bed temporary structure for one month at capacity at more than $5 million.