October 23, 2013

Charles Oliver: Making government work look easy

Charles Oliver

— • I’m not sure how any of America’s top elected officials spent their weekend. But Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott put in a 14-hour shift battling wildfires. Abbott has been a volunteer firefighter for 13 years and when his brigade was called up to help battle fires that have already consumed more than 100,000 acres in New South Wales, he suited up like all the other members. The public found out only later, after some snapshots of the firefighters were posted online and people recognized Abbott. Brigade Capt. Trent Dowling bristled at suggestions that Abbot’s firefighting was a publicity stunt, noting that the work was difficult and dangerous. “Anyone who bags him for pulling on the uniform and thinks it is a picture opportunity, I would suggest they do the course and join the brigade and come and see what we do,” he said. When not battling fires and running the national government, Abbott is also a volunteer surf lifesaver.

• Greenville County, S.C., Schools officials suspended Rhett Parham, a special needs middle school student, for taking a drawing of a bomb to school.

• Officials at the Stateville Correctional Center in Illinois were supposed to transfer Walter Redawn Dixon to a federal prison to serve a 16-year sentence for drug conspiracy. Instead, they released him. Dixon warned a guard they were making a mistake. But he said the guard just told him to shut up and forced him to spend his final hours in the prison in “the hole.” “He was damn rude to me,” Dixon said of the guard.

• German author Ilija Trojanov claims he was barred from entering the United States for an academic conference. Trojanov says he was given no reason but he believes it is because he has spoken out against National Security Agency spying.

• Officials at Arizona’s Entz Elementary School asked police officer Scott Urkov not to wear his uniform and firearm if he comes to school again. Urkov got a call from the school after he dropped his daughter off one day. The principal said that other parents were upset when they saw an armed officer at the school.

• The Sunrise, Fla., police have quite a little operation going on. Undercover cops and paid informants set up cocaine deals, luring in people from outside the city and even outside the state. The police have been able to seize cash and property, and some officers have racked up hundreds of thousands of dollars. But out of hundreds of busts, just two have resulted in sentences for cocaine trafficking. Defense lawyers say that’s because the police aren’t going after big-time drug dealers but targeting down-on-their-luck individuals. I certainly hope these people weren’t hardened criminals because the cops usually set up their stings in chain restaurants and malls, places where you really wouldn’t want a drug deal to go bad or a criminal to try to resist arrest. Well, not if you are concerned with public safety.

Charles Oliver is a staff writer for The Daily Citizen.