Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Nice little town you got here ...

After unanimously passing a resolution calling for discussion of drug legalization as an antidote to the border region's troubles with violent crime, the El Paso, Texas, city council failed to overturn the mayor's veto last week. That's because half of the members of the city council changed their votes, citing threats from federal officials. Nonsense, says U.S. Rep. Silvestre Reyes. He didn't issue a threat; he just wanted to "make sure they understand the things they do that aren't helpful to me."

The consequences of doing things that "aren't helpful," local officials were made to understand, could be the withholding of large sums of money with which the federal government keeps local jurisdictions on a tight leash. Play ball with the feds and the goodies get passed your way. Tick off the wrong people and you don't get to feed at the trough.

I suppose you could say that's technically not a threat, but the logical result of the state of dependency in which El Paso (like most other localities in the country) has placed itself relative to the powers-that-be in distant Washington, D.C. He who takes the king's coin becomes the king's man, after all. And El Paso takes millions of coins, from highway funds to water projects to law enforcement and beyond.

Did anybody think that wouldn't give the imperial capital a little leverage?

So El Paso backed down. And now the feds know, once again, that they can head off uncomfortable discussions by ostentatiously tucking the checkbook back in their pockets -- more in sorrow than in anger, of course.

After all, what discussion is worth all the fuss when there's so much money at stake?

Below, Terry Nelson, a 30-year veteran of the U.S. Border Patrol, the U.S. Customs Service, and the Department of Homeland Security, testifies before the El Paso city council in favor of drug legalization.



Blogger akaGaGa said...

Every politico in the country is bought and paid for - with our money!

January 20, 2009 2:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

last month florida, my homestate, passed the 100,000 mark in incarcerated citizens becoming 3rd in the nation for most people in a state behind bars. the following facts i lifted from the florida dept. of corrections own website. of the 100,000 peeps in florida prisons over 47,000 of them (almost half) were there for NONVIOLENT drug offenses. of that 47,000 over 27,000 of them were there for SIMPLE POSSESSION. it costs the taxpayers aprox. $38,625 per year per inmate to keep them there. anyone care to do the math? these figures do not count the number of people in the court system or on parole or probation. as i write this the florida politicians are trying to cope with a $2.5 billion budget deficit. they are closing schools, putting off much needed infrastructure improvements, cutting teachers pay and incentives, and raising taxes and fees. our secretary of corrections dept., walter mcneil has publicly stated that given our recent growth in inmate population we will need at least 15 new prisons in the next 5 years at a present cost of $1.9 billion which almost equals his departments present annual budget of $2 billion. is it just me!!?? i am the only sane person left in this state!!?? when will anyone else see the absurdity of this scenerio?

January 20, 2009 3:39 PM  
Anonymous M.S, Phoenix said...

Someday soon a city government or a state government is going to say "Oh well, we're already so far in the red what difference does it make" and tell the Feds to go jump in the lake when they come banging on the door with the money stick. That is going to be one hell of a day.

January 21, 2009 7:45 AM  
Blogger akaGaGa said...

M.S. Phoenix ... you're an optimist!

January 21, 2009 7:50 AM  
Anonymous claude said...

Absolutely disgraceful. Good article JD. Thanks for trying to be part of the solution.

January 21, 2009 9:42 AM  
Anonymous M.S., Phoenix said...

"akaGaGa said...
M.S. Phoenix ... you're an optimist!"

The recent rumblings out of the state legislatures of Montana and Wyoming concerning gun rights, and the general attitude of the majority of the Western States towards D.C keep my hopes, if not up, at least alive.

January 21, 2009 12:05 PM  
Blogger akaGaGa said...

Hmmm ... Montana, Wyoming ... maybe that's where I need to move.

Thanks for the pointer, MS Phoenix.

January 21, 2009 12:41 PM  

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