Lone Star Times
February 11, 2009
George Orwell, call your office !
If prostitution is the world’s oldest profession, then city mayors follow a very close second. In fact, it occurs to me they may be the spiritual offspring of the aforementioned liaisons. Whenever there is loose change or unclaimed dollar bills laying around, mayors can smell them a mile away and if a Sugar Daddy offers free cash, they never stop to question what the vigorish might be. The urban emperors, suburban commissars, the hack and the highbrow, the Republican and Democrat, the apolitical and amoral, the exurban apparatchiks all assemble to line dance down Pennsylvania Avenue like ladies of the evening on the way to a golden score with Big Daddy.
The United States Conference of Mayors has assembled the most ridiculous and repulsive example of government excess I think I have ever seen. Here is a PDF file of the document which stretches to 344 pages. One of the most alarming features of this civic gluttony is the gift list request for funds to buy military SWAT assault equipment for police forces like the examples offered here by Texas blogger and Reason.com contributor, Trey Garrison:
• Frisco wants $125,000 for an armored vehicle and $200,000 for a mobile command vehicle. You know, for all that gang tank warfare going on up in Frisco.
• McKinney wants $5 million for SWAT toys and stuff.
• North Richland Hills wants $51,000 for volunteer patrol volunteers. Let’s throw in $10 for a dictionary so they can look up the word “volunteer.”
• Irving wants $5 million for biometric scanners, digital cameras, RFID scanners — nothing Big Brother there.
• Grand Prairie wants $1.25 million for nicer landscaping around the public safety building.
• And finally, Arlington is really gearing up for urban warfare. Arlington wants $1.6 million for SWAT toys including more equipment for those deadly but camera-friendly no-knock raids, $56,000 for military grade carbines, $625,000 for unmanned aerial surveillance drones, and $130,000 for “covert ops.”
Here is the “Public Safety” wish list from the US Conference of Mayors.
Radley Balko, of The Agitator and contributing editor of Reason, offers these galling examples of cops gone Rambo:
• Sparks, Nevada wants $600,000 to purchase a “live fire” house its SWAT team can shoot up, and another $420,000 for a SWAT armored vehicle.
• Pleasanton, California wants $250,000 to buy a vehicle for its SWAT team.
• Gary, Indiana wants $750,000 for a host of “modernization” upgrades to its police department, including “sub-automatic machine guns” and an “armored vehicl” [sic].
• Hampton, Virginia wants a whopping $3.5 million for “Air Tactical Unit Support and Equipment,” which I’m pretty sure means they want a sweet helicopter for the SWAT team.
• Ottawa, Illinois (population: 18,307) wants $60,000 to purchase, among other things, five “tactical entry rifles.”
• Glendale Heights, Illinois wants $96,000 to purchase red light cameras, and another $67,000 to hire someone to monitor them.
• Toward a more Orwellian America! The following cities requested stimulus funds to supplement, initiate, or upgrade public surveillance camera systems: Brockton, Massachusetts; Buffalo, New York; Burnsville, Minnesota; Caguas, Puerto Rico; Cerritos, California; Columbia, South Carolina; Compton, California; Homestead, Florida; Hormigueros, Puerto Rico; Indianapolis, Indiana; Inglewood, California; Lewiston, Maine; Lorain, Ohio; Lynn, Massachusetts; Marion, Ohio; Merced, California; New Rochelle, New York; North Richland Hills, Texas; Oakland, California; Orange, New Jersey; Orem, Utah; Orlando, Florida; Pembroke Pines, Florida; Ponce, Puerto Rico; Riverdale, Illinois; Shreveport, Louisiana; Silver City, New Mexico; Sumter, South Carolina; Tallahassee, Florida; Warren, Ohio; and Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania.
Winston-Salem, North Carolina requested just under $85 million in security-related stimulation. But top prize goes to Tulsa, Oklahoma, which is asking the rest of the country to stimulte its economy with a whopping $135 million in public safety-related requests.
All in all, America’s mayors asking for a little over $5.5 billion in public safety “stimulus.”
The city of La Porte, Texas has applied for $700,000 to build a “Lifestyle Center” while the city of Houston wants a whopping $175,000,000 to build the “Metro Houston Intermodal Terminal” in downtown Houston. I could go on, but I am nauseated by reading these documents. Readers will have to carry on in my absence while I try to recover.