BRAC AND THE ARSENAL: Awaiting the base closure report

MattFeely,a31-year-oldmachinist,finishedafour-yearapprenticeshipattheRockIslandArsenaltwoweeksago.
Heloveshisjobandwantstoretirefromthere.“Iplantostayhereaslongastheyletme,”hesaidduringaninterviewonthefactoryfloor.
Inacoupleofweeks,hewillhaveaprettygoodideaifthatispossible.
ByMay16,theDefenseDepartmentwilldropTheList,andforMattFeelyandthousandsofhisco-workersonArsenalIsland—aswellashundredsofothercommunitiesacrossthecountry—TheListisabigdeal.
OnitwillbeDefenseSecretaryDonaldRumsfeld’srecommendationstotheBaseClosureandRealignmentCommission,thefirstmajorstepinamonths-longprocesstowardshavingthecountryofunneededmilitarybases.Itisthefirsttimein10yearsthegovernmenthasdonethis.
ItpaysnottobeonTheList.
Ifyouare,itisnearlyimpossibletogetoffit.Eighty-fivepercentoftheDefenseDepartment’srecommendationsareratifiedbythecommission.
IntheQuad-Cityregion,thestakesarehuge.
Morethan6,400peopleworkonArsenalIsland.Itisthesecond-largestemployerintheQuad-Cities.Nearly1,000workattheJointManufacturingandTechnologyCenter—betterknownastheArsenalortheFactory.
Island-wide,governmentworkersarepaid$345millionannually.Thebaseawarded$53millionincontractstobusinesseswithina100-mileradiuslastyear.Onceallthatmoneycirculates,theestimatedimpactontheQuad-Citiesis$1.2billion.
NobaseissuretobeimmunefromTheList.
Therearemorethan400militarybasesintheUnitedStates,andtheDefenseDepartmentsaysitdoesnotneedafifthtoaquarterofitsinfrastructure.
Thatcreatesthepotentialforalotofgateclosings.
TheBushadministration,whichfoughthardforthisroundofbaseclosings—knownbyitsacronym,BRAC—saysthecountryneedsthemoneyitiswastingonunneededbasestofightthewaronterror.
TheDefenseDepartmentestimatestheclosingswillsaveasmuchas$5billionperyear.Italsowantstorealignitsbasestructuretosupportamorestreamlinedandlethalfightingforce.
“Tomakeyourforcesleanerandmorejoint,you’vegottohaveBRACtodoit,”saysKenBeeks,thevicepresidentforpolicyforBusinessExecutivesforNationalSecurity,aWashington,D.C.-basedthinktankthatsupportsBRAC.
AftertheDefenseDepartmentmakesitsrecommendations,thecommission—whoseninemembersareappointedbythepresidentandconfirmedbytheU.S.Senate—willstudythesuggestions,holdhearings,visitbasesandmakeitsownrecommendationstotheWhiteHouse.ThatwillhappenbySept.8.TheadministrationandCongresscanthenacceptorrejectthelist,buttheycannotamendit.
Factorymostatrisk
Unlikealotofbases,theArsenalprobablydoesnotfacetheprospectofhavinga“closed”signhungontheentireinstallation,localofficialssay.Afterall,itishometo60tenants,mostofthemmilitaryagencies.
Likeadiversifiedstocksandbondsportfolio,itisunlikely—butnotimpossible—thatallofthemwillbeclosedormovedofftheisland,officialssay.“It’sahardkill,”saidThomHart,thepresidentoftheQuad-CityDevelopmentGroup,whichhastakentheleadindefendingthebase.
Still,therearesignificantdangers.
Thefactoryisconsideredmostatrisk.
Sincethemilitarydownsizingofthe1990s,behemothslikethe2.1million-square-footKingsburyManufacturingcomplex,whichdominatestheisland’sRodmanDrive,laynearlydormant.Hundredsofjobswerelost,useplummetedandproductioncostswentup.Asrecentlyasthreeyearsago,theArmywasflirtingwithprivatizingit.
ThenthewarinIraqcamealong.
Nowthefactoryisworkingat75percentcapacity,220newworkershavebeenhiredinthepast18monthsandhundredsofthousandsofsquarefeetofdistributionspacethathadbeenavailableformarketingtoprivatecompanieshasbeenpulledbackbytheArmyintheeventitisneeded.
FortheArsenal,atleast,thewarhasproveditsworthasaplacetheArmycancountonincrunchtime,localofficialssay.“Thethingswe’vedonelatelyhaveputusonthemap,”saidMikeHaxby,a31-year-oldmachinist.
Andjustintime.
Wherepessimismruledtwoyearsago,localofficialsaresohopefulthebaseclosingprocesswillmeantheadditionofjobs—notlosses—thattheyrecommendedagainstdelayingitwhentheyhadthechance.
TheQuad-CityDevelopmentGroupopposedacongressionalmeasurelastyearthatwouldhavedelayedtheroundbytwoyears,arguingthatthebusyworkloadmakesthisthemostopportunetimetogothroughtheprocess.
Expertspredictthatthefactory’sfuture—likethoseinWatervliet,N.Y.,andPineBluff,Ark.—willcenteronabasictheoreticalquestion:ShouldtheArmy’sindustrialbasebeownedandrunbythegovernmentortheprivatesector?
Skepticssaytheheightenedworkloadwillnotlastforever.Someday,itwillsettleintowhat,beforethewar,hadbeenasteadydecline,theysay.
“Workloads,outsidethisblip,atthebulkofdepotsacrosstheserviceshavecontinuedtodecline,”BeekssaidinDecember.
ButArsenalbackerssaythewar—andthebase’sroleinhustlinguparmorforHumvees,forexample—shouldbolsterthenotionitcanstepinquicklyintimesofneed.Thatissomethingtheysaythatprivateindustrycannot,orwillnot,do.
“IwanttobelievewithallofmyheartwhattheArsenalwascalledupontodowillnotgounnoticed,”saysretiredMaj.Gen.WadeMcManusJr.,whomostrecentlywaspostedatArsenalIsland.
EveniftheansweristokeeptheArmyinthearsenalbusiness—ithasthreeofthem—thenumbercouldbecut.
Thegovernmentalsocouldchangetheirstructure.Thecommissionnotonlycloses,butitalsorealigns,andthereispressuretoconsolidatetheArmy’sindustrialbase.ADefenseDepartmentreportlastyearsaidthat43percentoftheArmy’sinfrastructureinthebroadcategorythatincludestheArsenalfactoryisnotneeded.
Oneoftheoptionsisthatthegovernmentcouldretainownershipbutturncontrolovertoaprivatecompany.Thattypeofarrangementwouldkeepthejobsinplace,evensomeArsenalbackersacknowledge,butitlikelywouldbeopposedbyunionswhocouldfaceaunion-hostilecontractor.
Threeyearsago,whentheArmyappearedtobemovinginthatdirection,unionsandtheiralliesinCongressstoppedit.“Obviously,we’dliketoremaingovernmentemployeesdoingthegovernment’swork,”saysMaryDeSmet,thevicepresidentoftheAmericanFederationofGovernmentEmployees,Local15.
Therealsoarefearsthataprivatecontractorcouldtrimjobsovertime.
Beyondthefactoryfloor
Asidefromthefactory,therearethousandsofwhite-collarjobsontheisland.Mostofthejobsthere,infact,arerelatedtologisticsandcontractingwork.
About1,200peopleworkfortheArmyFieldSupportCommandandJointMunitionsCommand,worldwideagenciesthatprepositionmilitarystockandmanageconventionalammunitionsupplies.Theheadquartersforbothcommandsareontheisland.
Another1,100peopleworkfortheTank-automotiveandArmamentCommand,orTACOM,whichmanagesarmamentsystems.
Morethan300employeesworkfortheDefenseFinanceandAccountingService.
Whatmighthappentothoseagenciesislessclear.
“Themajorityofpeoplehavetheperceptionthatthemanufacturingcomponentistheonlythingatrisk,”saidTomEsparza,thepresidentoftheAmericanFederationofGovernmentEmployees,Local15.“I’mnotcertainthat’llbethetruth.”
Pastcommissionshavezeroedinonthelogisticsandcontractingoperations.
In1991,thebaseclosingcommissionrecommendedshipping1,400ArsenalIslandjobstoHuntsville,Ala.Thedecisionwasreversedtwoyearslater,buttherehasbeenspeculationsincethenthatitcouldhappenagain.
Infact,AlabamaofficialshavespentyearsenticingArmyofficials,toutingtiestoanearbyindustrialpark,vacantspaceinlargenewarsenalbuildingsandahighconcentrationoftheirpopulationwithadvanceddegreesinmath,scienceandengineering,accordingtoareportpublishedinDecemberintheHuntsvilleTimes.
“Huntsvillehasalotofopenspaceandnice,newhigh-riseofficebuildings,”saidJimmyMorgan,theprogramdirectorfortheRockIslandArsenalDevelopmentGroupandaformerseniorcivilianexecutiveatTACOM.
TheArsenalhasvacantspace,too.Andwhilebackersofprivatizingthefactoryseeitasaliability,localofficialsseeitasapotentialboon.OnArsenalIsland,thereisroomforatleast2,000morepeople,andsomelocalofficialshavespeculatedthattheheadquartersforTACOM,currentlybasedattheDetroitArsenalinMichigan,couldbemovedhere.
Quad-Cityofficialsalsoaretoutingtheirowncommunityattributes—lowhousingprices,wageratesthatarelowerthanothercitiesandtheeducationoftheworkforce.TheDefenseDepartmentadjustspaydependinguponthecostoflivinginaparticulararea,andsincethecostoflivinghereislow,thatarguesintheQuad-Cities’favor,localadvocatessay.“We’vegotreallygoodfundamentalsinthiscommunity,”Hartsaid.
AlobbyistfortheMichiganbasesaystheIraqWarbolstersitscaseforkeepingtheTACOMarrangementinplace.“Youcouldchangeit,butcouldyoumakeitbetter?Idoubtit,”saidJerryChapin,aformerdeputycommanderofTACOMwhoisaconsultantfortheMacomb(Mich.)ChamberofCommerce.ArsenalbackersalsobelievethattheBRACcriteriaemphasizingjointoperationsandtrainingamongtheArmy,Navy,AirForceandMarineswillworktoitsadvantage.Forexample,theJointMunitionsCommand,whichmanagesconventionalammunitionforallthemilitarybranches,workstothebase’sadvantage.
Intheend,however,mostanalystsandlocalofficialsconcedethattheydonothaveafeelforwhatmighthappen.TheDefenseDepartmenthasnottippeditshand.Andthereisnosureindicatorofabase’ssurvivability,nomatteritsperformanceduringwartimeortheinvestmentsthegovernmenthasmadeinit.
AnArmydepotinMemphiswasshutdowneightyearsago,eventhoughitheraldedthefactithadshippedoutmostofthemealstosoldiersservinginthePersianGulfduringthe1991war.Majorinvestmentshavebeenmadeatbasesonlytoseethemclosed.
Atthispoint,thereisnochoicebuttowait.“Itrynottoworryaboutittoomuch,”Feelysaid.“You’rejustfightingshadowsifyoudo.”
http://www.newsargus.com/news/archives/2005/05/01/will_it_stay_or_close/index.shtml

Willitstayorclose?
SometimetheFederalBureauofPrisonswillformallyaskCongressforpermissiontoclosetheprisoncampatSeymourJohnsonAirForceBase.Whenissometime?That’swhatthecamp’s84employeeswouldliketoknow.“Thedecisioncouldcometomorroworitcouldbethissummer,”saidMichelleBryant,presidentofLocal3977oftheAmericanFederationofGovernmentEmployeesandaprisonemployee.“Wedon’tknowwhenweturnonCNNortheeveningnewsifwe’regoingtohearthatwe’rebeingcloseddown.“That’sthepartthatgetseveryone—thewaiting.”TheclockhasbeentickingsinceFebruarywhentheBureauofPrisonsannounceditwantedtoclosethecamp,alongwithotherminimum-securityprisonsinAllenwood,Pa.,atNellisAirForceBase,Nev.,andatEglinAirForceBase,Fla.Theclosuresarepartof$160millioninbudgetcutsrequestedbytheBushAdministration.TheBureauproposestomovetheinmatesto“satellitecamps”outsidehigher-securityprisonswheretheywouldperformgroundskeepingandmaintenance,thesametypeofworktheynowdoatSeymourJohnson.AccordingtoinformationprovidedbyU.S.Rep.WalterB.Jones’office,itcoststhefederalgovernmentmorethan$9millionannuallytooperatetheSeymourJohnsoncamp.TheBureauofPrisonsalsoestimatedthecamp,whichopenedin1991,willneed$1.7millioninrepairsoverthenext10years.TheclosureswillneedtobeapprovedbyCongress.Sofar,theBureauhasnotsubmitteditslisttotheJudiciarycommittees.“Nothinghaschanged,”saidspokeswomanTraciBillingsleylastweek.ButtheBureau’sdirector,HarleyLappin,hasbeenvisitingtheprisonstomeetwithemployeesanddiscusstheiroptionsincaseofclosure.HeisscheduledtovisitSeymourJohnson’scampinmid-May.ThreeofWayneCounty’scongressmen—Jones,U.S.Rep.G.K.ButterfieldandU.S.Sen.RichardBurr—haveaskedLappinformoreinformationabouttheproposal.Theprisoncampcannotbeconsideredonitsown,theysaidinaMarch28letter.“Anypotentialcost-savingstheFederalBureauofPrisonsmayrealizewouldbemorethanoffsetbyincreasedcoststoSeymourJohnsonAirForceBase,duetothelossofthelaborforcetheprisoncampprovides,”theletterstated.ButtheAirForcehasbeenquietabouttheprisoncamp’sstatus.Reportedly,thebaseiscompletingastudytodeterminethecostofhiringcontractorstodomaintenanceandgroundskeepingversusthecostofsupervisinginmatesandmaintainingandreplacingtheirequipment.TheSeymourSupportCounciliswaitingfortheAirForce’sgo-aheadbeforeitcampaignstokeeptheprisoncamp.Complicatingtheissueistheuncertaintysurroundingthebase’sfuture.SecretaryofDefenseDonaldRumsfeldwillpresentalistofmilitarybasestoCongressandthe2005BaseRealignmentandClosureCommission.IfSeymourJohnsonisontheBRAClistforeitherclosureordownsizing,theprisoncampcouldbecomeamootpoint.Ifthebasecouldgetanexpandedmission,thecampcouldbecomemoreimportanttoretain.TheBureauofPrisonshasrepeatedlysaidthatitsclosureplanshavenothingtodowithBRAC.ButtheBRACissuehaskeptcityandcountyofficialsfromopenlobbyingontheprisoncamp’sbehalf.PrivatizationonriseIronically,theproposedclosingscomeatatimewhenfederalcellsseemtobeatapremium.In2004,thenation’sprisonandjailsheldmorethan2.1millioninmates,theJusticeDepartment’sBureauofJusticeStatisticsannouncedlastweek.Thatwasanincreaseofmorethan48,000peopleinayear.Infederalprisonsalone,thenumberofinmatesroseby10,095lastyear,accordingtotheJusticeDepartment.Thatequalsa6.3percentincrease.TheBureauofPrisonsisincreasinglyturningtoprivatelyoperatedprisonstohandletheoverflow.Asofmid-2004,99,000inmateswerehousedinprivatefacilities.Thosefiguresincludenearly15percentofallfederalprisoners.TheBushAdministrationispushinganagendaofprivatizingminimum-andlow-securitycustody,saidRonRubottom,Mid-AtlanticregionalvicepresidentfortheAmericanFederationofGovernmentEmployees.Ifthecurrenttrendcontinues,morethan8,000federalcorrectionalofficerswilllosetheirjobs,RubottomsaidinatelephoneinterviewfromhisofficeinMorgantown,W.Va.WhileLappin,theBureau’sdirector,hassaidSeymourJohnson’semployeeswouldbegiventhechancetotransfertootherprisons,theclosestminimum-securityfacilityisinButner,northofDurhamandabout90milesaway.Thenextclosestoptionsareoutofstate.“Wereallydon’tthinkit’sfair,”Rubottomsaid.“Theemployeeshaveboughthousesthere.Theyhavetheirchildrenintheschools.They’reapartofyourcommunity.Theywillbeuprootedforwhatweconsideraverypoorreason.”LifeasusualTheproposedclosurehasnotaffectedtheSeymourJohnsonFederalPrisonCamp’sday-to-dayoperations,saidspokesmanRodneyTabron.“We’restayingonprocedureuntilweheardifferently.”Theonlychangehasbeenthenumberofinmateshasfallen.“Wehousedupto650peopleinlate2004,butwe’rearound560now.Thelasttwoorthreemonths,ithasstartedtoleveloff,”hesaid.LocatedneartheSlocumbStreetgate,theprisonhardlystandsoutonthebase.Ithasnobars,fencesorguardtowers.Itsentrancewayisvaultedwithskylights.Itlooksmorelikeamiddleschoolthanaprison.TheBureauofPrisonsoperatesprisonsatfivelevelsofsecurity,andprisoncampsarethelowest.Inmatesarescreenedtoensuretheyhavenohistoryofviolenceorattemptstoescapecustody.Theprisondoescheckseverytwohours,butprisonersstillhaveplentyoftimeswhentheyhavelittleornosupervision.Still,thecamphasn’thadanescape,whichtheycall“awalkaway,”since2000.NearlyalloftheSeymourJohnsonprisonersarefromthesoutheasternU.S.,andmanyarefromtheCharlotteareaandwesternNorthCarolina.Slightlymorethan70percentwereconvictedofdrug-relatedcrimes,Tabronsaid.Otherscommittedpropertyorwhite-collarcrimes.Theaveragesentenceisfiveyears.Minimum-securityinstitutionsaretypicallywork-andprogram-oriented.“It’srequiredthattheyworkorworkontheireducation,”hesaid.“WehavemandatoryG.E.D.classesforpeoplewhodon’thavetheirhighschooldiplomas.”PrisonersalsocanpursueassociatedegreesthroughclassestaughtbyWayneCommunityCollegeinstructors.“TheBureauofPrisondoesn’twanttojustwarehouseinmates;youhavetodosomethingtorehabilitatethem,”hesaid.“Thesepeoplearegoingbackintothecommunityandwehopethey’llbeadjustedforit.”Theprisonalsosuppliesconsiderablemanpowertothecommunity.HabitatforHumanityofWayneCountyuses12-15inmatessixdaysaweek.AcarpentryclasstaughtatthecampbyalicensedcontractorassembleswallsforHabitathomes.Inmateshaverecentlybegunbuildingrooftrusses,assemblystoragebuildings,andhelpoutatHabitat’swarehouseandstore.“It’sbeentremendous,”saidHabitatPresidentBillEdgerton.“That’shundredsofvolunteerhoursthey’vegivenus.Withoutthem,we’dreallyhavetobeatthebushesforvolunteers.”PrisonershavealsohelpedwiththeArtsCouncilofWayneCounty’slandscapingarounditsheadquartersonAshStreet.TheyassistedattheWayneCountyMuseumandtheLighthouseofWayneCounty.Duringthesummer,theyhavecutgrass,buffedfloorsandmovedfurnitureatWayneCountypublicschools.They’vedoneworkattheN.C.GuardArmory.SomehavetalkedtoclassesatareacollegesandschoolsandtopeoplewhohavebeenassignedtoWayneCounty’sDayReportingCenterasasentencingalternative.Willthatlaborforcebeavailablein2006andbeyond?It’snotlookingfavorable.WayneCommunityCollegeisoperatingonthepremisethatitwillnolongerbeteachingatthecampafterSeptemberorso,PresidentEdWilsonsaid.“Butthekindofclassesweteachthere,wecaneithergoorstopwithoutmuchnotice.“Wejustneedadecision.”EmployeesonholdSodothecamp’semployees,whohavebeeninlimboforthreemonthsnow.“Wedon’tknowfromdaytodaywhatourfutureholds,”Ms.Bryantsaid.“Wehavealotofhusbandsandwivesworkingherewhomaynotbeabletotransfertothesameplace.”NobodywantstobeforcedtomovetoeitherButnerorBennettsville,S.C.,theclosestminimumsecurityprisons.AndButner’sacommute,althoughMs.Bryant,aGoldsboronative,diditforfiveyears.Shegotupat4a.m.,wasontheroadby5:15andthendidn’tgethomeuntilafter6p.m.“Eighty-twomileseachway,”shesaid.“You’dhavetochangeyouroileverymonth.That’salotofwearandtearonavehicle.”Nowshelivesnearthebase’sSlocumbStreetgate.“IcouldridemybiketoworkifIwanted,”shesaid.Asunionpresident,Ms.BryantwasinWashington,D.C.,whenLappinannouncedtheproposedclosures.Local3977representsaboutathirdoftheprisoncamp’semployees.“HeemphasizedthattheBureauwantedtocloseprisonsthatare‘oldanddilapidated.’Weopenedin1991;we’refarfromoldanddilapidated,”shesaid.Shehascloselyreviewedthecamp’sbudgetandhasidentifiedmorethan$1.2millioninannualsavingsthatcouldbemade.ThecamphasalreadyconsolidatedsomeofitsadministrativefunctionswiththeButnercomplex,butshebelievesthetwoprisonscouldworkevencloser.ShehassharedherideaswithMayorAlKing,localcongressmenandanyonewhowilllisten.“Wehavegottogetthewordoutthatourfriendsandneighborsneedtocalltheirrepresentativesandsenatorsandtellthemthattheydosupportusandwantthecamptostay,”shesaid.“Wedon’twanttogoanywhere.Thisisourhome.”They’llfindoutsometimeiftheygettostay.http://www.federalnewsradio.com/index.php?nid=22&sid=254657

FullSpeedAhead,ButTakeitEasyApr.29,2005


A5thgradeschoolteacherwhohaditinforme,andtherewereanumberofthem,constantlywarnedourclassthattheTHEROADTOHELL(shesaidheck,buthell,weknewwhatshemeant)ISPAVEDWITHGOODINTENTIONS!!!ShealsowarnedusthatTHEDEVILISINTHEDETAILS!!!Shealwayslookedatmewhenshesaidthesethings,whichwasoffputting.Igotthemessage,andisasoftenthecasewithteachers,shewasright.Shewasalsojustifiedindirectingthemessagetothestudentthefacultyvoted"mostlikelynottosucceed."Althoughshewouldbeabout128yearsoldtoday,Iwillnotnameher.Istillfearherwrath.Shewasthatgood!ButIthinkofhereverytimeIhearsomebodydebatingthemeritsofpayforperformanceinthegovernment.UnfortunatelyinWashingtonyouhearaboutPFPallthetime.Somefederalworkerswelcomepay-for-performance.Somehaveexperienceditinpilotprogramsandlikethewayitrewardsthebestemployeesandpunishestheofficedrones.Manymore,however,expressconcernthat,whileitsoundsgoodinhearingsandlooksgoodonpaper,itjustwon'twork.Defense,withnearlyhalfthecivilianfederalworkforce,planstoinclude300,000civiliansinthefirstphaseof"Spiral1"whichbeginsinJuly.OpponentssaythatwhenDefenseandtheDepartmentofHomelandSecurityimplementPFP,itwilllaunchareturntothespoilssystematworst,orencouragethebuddy-systemwithmanagersgivingpay-raise-ratingstotheirpets.Andthereisalwaysthequestionoffunding.IfPFPplansareunderfunded,bosseswillbefacedwiththechoiceofcontinuingtogiveeverybodythesamepercentagepayraises,orcausingturmoilbygivinghighrewardstosomepeopleandlittleornothingtoothers.Onethingaboutthegovernmentisthatmostpeopleknowroughly(ifnotexactly)whattheotherpersonmakes.Itisnotliketheprivatesectorwherecleverbossestakeemployeesaside,assurethemthattheyarethebestpaidworkerintheoffice,andswearthemtosecrecy.DHSisfacingalawsuitfromacoalitionofunions.Defenseiscurrentlymeetingwithunions(youcangetadailyupdatefromtheunionvantageathttp://afge.com/Index.cfm?Page=DefenseConference)andotheragenciesarepreparingtoimplementPFPsoonerratherthanlater.Actingasaspeedbump,notaroadblock,istheGovernmentAccountabilityOffice.GAOisindependentoftheexecutivebranch,anditsauditorsandexaminersarepaidnottobecheerleadersforanyadministration,althoughitdoeshaveinternalcriticswhoaren'thappywithitspaysystem.Inthewakeof9/11,whenamorestreamlined,quick-reactiongovernmentwasdemanded,CongresscreatedtheDHSandgaveitafreehand.Italsogaveotheragencies,startingwithDOD,authoritytomakesweepingchangesviatheNationalSecurityPersonnelSystem.Butafterapprovingthechangeswithbreakneckspeed(forCongress,)agrowingnumberofHouseandSenatememberssaythatDODandDHS,whoweretoldtomovequicklytoimplementchanges,areinfactmovingtooquickly.Federalunionshavebeenwarningaboutunduespeedallalong,butwithCongress,thehard-nosedanalysisoftheGAOisevenmoreimportant.AndGAOisurgingCongressandthegovernmenttodevelopagovernment-widedesignformajorpersonnelchangeslikePFP.InfactComptrollerGeneralDavidWalker,whorunstheGAOandservesafixedterminoffice,hassaidthatfederalagencies"shoulddemonstratethattheyhavethecapacity,notjustthedesign,todoso."Soundslikesomeofmyearlywarningsaboutpavedroads.Wonderifwehadthesameteacher?http://www.insightmag.com/news/2005/05/02/National/Mexico.Border.Watch.Expands-945875.shtml

Mexicoborderwatchexpands
ByJerrySeper
THEWASHINGTONTIMES

AnorganizationofcitizensinCalifornia,createdlastyeartosupporttheU.S.BorderPatrol,willbeginitsownMinuteman-stylevigilinAugust,usingvolunteerstospotillegalaliensinareasaroundSanDiego,organizerssaidyesterday.
TheFriendsoftheBorderPatrol,ledbyChairmanAndyRamirez,said300retiredpoliceofficers,militarypersonnel,pilotsandothercitizenshaveofferedtheirservicesforthe"FBPBorderWatch,"whichtheorganizationhopestoexpandeventuallyfromthePacificOceantotheArizonastateline.
Thevolunteers,Mr.Ramirezsaid,alsoincludepeopletopatroltheborderonhorsebackandacontractorwhohasofferedtobuildabasecampfortheoperation.

"Americawasbuiltonthespiritofvolunteerismandcommunity,"saidMr.Ramirez,whopreviouslyheadedSaveOurState,whichhelpeddefeateffortsbyCalifornialawmakerstoauthorizedriverslicensesforillegalaliens."Citizensvolunteeringtodefendournationintimeofwarandcrisisisatime-honoredAmericantradition.
"TheAmericanpeoplearelookingforwaystobolsterBorderPatrolnumbers,"hesaid."It'scleartheywantmoreagentsandsecureborders."
TheplannedCaliforniavigilispatternedaftertheMinutemanProject,duringwhichmorethan800volunteersmannedobservationpostsona23-milestretchoftheArizona-MexicobordereastandwestofNaco,shuttingdownafloodofforeignersinthearea--oneofthemostpopularcorridorsforaliensmugglersinthecountry.
MinutemanfounderJamesT.Gilchrist,aretiredCaliforniacertifiedpublicaccountantandcombat-woundedVietnamveteran,endorsedtheCaliforniaeffort,offeringhissupportandadvice--includingtheneedforlawenforcementandmilitarypersonneltoparticipatetohelp"weedpeopleoutwhodonotbelong."

Minutemanco-organizerChrisSimcox,aTombstone,Ariz.,newspaperpublisherandfounderofArizona'sCivilHomelandDefenseCorps.,hassaidthat"tensofthousands"ofvolunteerswillbereadyinOctobertocontrolillegalimmigrationalongtheU.S.-MexicoborderfromCaliforniatoTexas.
"Wewillpackageupwhatwe'vedonehereanddoitagainasamultistateborderproject.Wewilltellthegovernmenttodoitsjobinsecuringthisborderorwewillshutitdownourselves,"hesaid.
Mr.SimcoxalsosaidthispastweekthattheMinutemenarelookingtohelporganizepatroleffortsinfourstatesalongtheU.S.-Canadaborder--Idaho,Michigan,NorthDakotaandVermont.
"Weshouldn'thavetobedoingthis,"hesaidTuesday."Butatthispoint,wewillcontinuetogrowthisoperation--alsotothenorthernborder."
Mr.Ramirezsaidawell-organizedandplannedoperationaroundSanDiegowasessential"toensurethesafetyofeveryoneinvolved,fromBorderPatrolagents,thevolunteers,illegalaliensandeventhosecounterprotestersseekingtodisrupttheBorderWatch.
"Wehaveaskedeveryonethattheyparticipatewithbutoneintention--tobehaveinaprofessionalmannerandfollowtheruleoflaw,"hesaid.

AdvisingtheCaliforniavolunteerswillbeJosephN.Dassaro,formervicepresidentoftheNationalBorderPatrolCouncil,whichrepresentsall11,000nonsupervisoryBorderPatrolfieldagents.
Mr.Dassaro,a13-yearBorderPatrolagentandheadofthecouncil'sLocal1613inSanDiego,quittheagencylastweek,sayingafailedbureaucracyandlackofsupportfromCongressandtheBushadministrationmadeitimpossibleforrank-and-fileagentstosecuretheborders.
InalettertoLocal1613members,Mr.DassarocalledtheBorderPatrol"oneofthemostinefficientandmisleadingagenciesinthehistoryofgovernment."
Officially,theBorderPatrolwasnotsupportiveoftheMinutemanProject,sayingimmigrationenforcementwastheresponsibilityofthefederalgovernment.IthascastsimilardoubtsontheCaliforniaproposal.
Numerousrank-and-fileagentsinArizona,however,toldTheWashingtonTimestheywelcomedthevolunteersandthenationwideattentiontheirprojectbroughttotheproblemoftheporoussouthernborder.


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