“I told you we left the truck down here!”
On Washington state’s remote and wooded Olympic Peninsula, major commotion is usually limited to a log tumbling off an overloaded lumber truck. But lately the peninsula has been roiled by a noisy debate over the expansion of a Border Patrol station in Port Angeles, a three-hour car and ferry ride away from the U.S.-Canadian land border.
The U.S. Border Patrol is spending nearly $6 million to renovate a Port Angeles building that could house up to 50 of its agents.
Prior to the attacks of September 11, 2001, four agents were stationed in Port Angeles, a city of about 20,000 people some 15 miles across the Strait of Juan de Fuca from Canada.
“It’s not needed, there’s nothing for them to do up here,” said Lois Danks, a local writer and organizer of Stop the Checkpoints, which last month staged a small protest near where the Border Patrol’s new station is being built.
She says border agents “drive around and hassle people without any reasonable suspicion of anything except for possibly the color of their skin.”
“They park across the street from Hispanic grocery stores and taco stands and watch who comes and goes,” according to Danks…
Port Angeles border agent Christian Sanchez says he and his colleagues are “paid to do nothing…”There’s nothing to do,there are no gangs or cross-border activity. I haven’t seen it.”
Sanchez told the not-for-profit Advisory Group on Transparency he never intended to become a whistle-blower, but decided to speak out publicly after he felt his complaints about the Port Angeles station’s “lack of mission” were being brushed aside by supervisors.
Sanchez told the panel he ran afoul of supervisors for refusing overtime he didn’t feel he was entitled to since, he said, there was so little work to do.
“The taxpayers are paying us all this extra money to do nothing on this peninsula, where it’s a water-based border,” Sanchez said during the panel discussion. “It’s a burden on the taxpayers right now especially with the economy, with Medicare being cut, with the foreclosures.”
Another one of those aspects of change that are unchanged. If you can use the magic definition – “homeland security” – you’re golden. You can steal as much as you can carry in the name of bureaucracy and it’s OK with Congress and the White House.
One of the oldest games of public theft is inflating costs. If you’re producing aircraft engines for the military on a contact that guarantees “restriction” to a 6% profit – that profit is inflated if you double the number of employees required to produce those engines, same for the cost of raw materials.
That’s played the same way in bureaucracies. Double, triple the number of “agents” required to service an area of our border, the perceived value of the whole agency increases. Keep in increasing those numbers and there must be a concurrent increase added to the cost of administering that agency.
Whoever has the biggest boondoggle gets the biggest salary.