Stanislaus County Sheriff Adam Christianson wants everyone to know he and President Donald Trump spent some quality moments together. If you missed it on TV or on modbee.com, he reminded his Twitter followers no fewer than 14 times with the phrase, “I was seated next to POTUS…”
To be fair, Trump appears to have been speaking specifically about members of MS-13, the gang that started in California’s prisons, moved to El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras then came back to wreak havoc. Using the word “animals” is calculated to dehumanize and demonize while making people afraid. It’s a common Trump tactic.
Yes, some gang members have done some horrific things. But not all gangs come from Mexico or Central America; not even most. There have been vicious American gangs of virtually every nationality – English, Irish, Italian, Chinese, Polish you name it. Some of the worst are homegrown, whether making moonshine, riding motorcycles or wearing spats.
That said, Trump’s comment wasn’t the one that stood out for me. Rather, it was this from Christianson: “We’re looking for the people who are criminals. Not the people who are seeking a better life in America.”
In January, Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents raided 98 convenience stores in 17 states, arresting 21 people. February ICE raids in Modesto and Atwater netted five people each and some 200 more across Northern California and Oregon. What crimes were these “criminals” committing? Virtually all were on their way to work. Buying coffee is not a crime.
No one around POTUS had the guts to bring up the new, cruel and heartless ICE tactic of taking children from parents – even babies too small to walk – and holding them in separate detention centers. Attorney General Jeff Sessions says he’s sending a message to immigrating parents. Who terrorizes children to send a message? The parents missing their children might call Sessions an animal.
Sheriff Christianson is right that his deputies and border patrol agents should be focusing on catching criminals – not bothering those simply striving for a better life. We just wish it was true.
MODESTO CITY WORKERS are going to be getting very familiar with potholes. Why? Because city officials want their new focus on budgeting and accountability not to hit one.
Potholes don’t just tear up cars, in the past they also tore up Modesto’s budget. When the money budgeted for fixing pot holes ran out, some now-former officials just kept on patching.
“Nobody was watching,” said newly appointed city manager Joe Lopez. He vows those days are over. It was Lopez who helped find the cost overruns in dozens of city accounts, and now he’s working on “internal controls” so that his finance department can better track all expenditures.
A key component is making certain city staff knows exactly what it’s fixing. So inspections will determine the width and depth of every pothole with notes on cracks in the roadbed and estimates of patches needed. Staff will have a good idea of the cost before the bill ever arrives. When it does, any overages will be easier to spot. At least that’s the plan, and we like it.
Unfortunately, the city has some catching up to do; there are 1,000 potholes on the fix-it list – about five months worth in a typical year.
Mike Dunbar is the Opinion Page editor of The Modesto Bee. 209 578-2325 or firstname.lastname@example.org