Who’s Watchin’ the Sheriff?

BY GAREN YEGPARIAN

Many of you may immediately think that I’m referring to Sheriff Joe Arpaio of Maricopa County, AZ.  You know, they guy who’s appointed himself the grand protector of the American Southwest by chasing after ghosts, i.e. hassling people in his crusade to “round up illegal aliens”.  Fortunately, as the LATimes and CBS News have reported, he’s probably being investigated for abuse of power—the guy is going after elected officials who disagreed with his policies.

But Arpaio can serve as an example.  Even watchers have to be watched.  And, watching/oversight is very important, as evidenced by the economic mess the Wall Street casino-style bankers have put the whole world in.

Coincidentally though, this article was prompted by another sheriff.  This is a man who enjoys wide respect and support.  That extends to the Armenian community, and the feeling is mutual.  He is present at Armenian community events with tremendous frequency. He was even married in an Armenian church, I understand.  He is Sheriff Lee Baca of LA county.

It turns out Baca is visiting Azerbaijan.  The context is a homeland security committee he serves on.  In the same context, he has also visited Armenia and numerous other countries.  But it is still unsettling to get the news from Azeri sources.  It sounds bad.  So, really, what he should have done is let our community leadership know he had to go.  All it would have taken is for his secretary to make a phone call or three.  But there’s also the possibility he’s not sufficiently sensitized to this.  That means it’s our leadership’s failing to do so.  And, this is a chronic problem in our political organizations’ relations with elected officials.  The latter are supported in their campaigns for holding the right positions.  Then, something is needed, and the elected doesn’t deliver.  We start to complain.  Then it turns out, we never did the “ask”!  They can’t read minds.  Let’s do things right.

And while we’re on the topic of watchers needing overseeing, how about that MMS (Minerals Management Service), an agency of the U.S. Department of the Interior?  MMS is charged with making sure the federal government collects royalties from the extractive industries availing themselves of the riches (oil, gas, and other mineral resources) underlying the U.S.’ outer continental shelf.  It is also supposed to oversee the companies doing this work.  That’s a tough pairing to accomplish, to start with.  Factor in that its employees have been “caught in bed”, and not just figuratively speaking, with the people they’re supposed to be checking up on.  They’ve also accepted gifts from those they’re supposedly keeping in line.  Now it is proposed that the two functions be separated.   I don’t hold out much hope of improvement until the mindset throughout the country changes and “regulation” is no longer a dirty word.

We all have to be vigilant, as citizens and residents of the country, states, and cities we inhabit.  Otherwise, things are likely to occur that will make the oil slick in the Gulf of Mexico look like syrup on pakhlava.

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