Monday, October 24, 2011

Community Push for FOB Choice

More than 120 folks, from ranchers to firemen, met Friday, Oct. 14 to push for a Forward Operating Base (FOB) which they believe would best tackle border agency goals and security-savvy strategies. Over the past year, public consensus has been building for the Cloverdale site - an area 7 miles north of the U.S.Mexico fence-line which features higher, dry-ground vantage, existing utilities, and a 'visible presence' that folks believe can act as deterrent. On Friday, Congressman Steve Pearce, along with aide, Tim Keithley and reps from Senator Jeff Bingaman and Tom Udall's office arrived at the Animas Community Center. They along with U.S. Border Patrol Agents - Michael Przybyl (Sector Chief, El Paso) and Chrisopher Mangusing, (Lordsburg Station) listened intently as the community delivered a feisty mix of public concern, respectful suggestion, and local advice. For newcomers, this meeting follows two citizen petitions and a rancher-organized tour of the two locations that produced the agenda at hand: A last-ditch effort by locals to have the new FOB site constructed 7 miles from the border, visible to trespassers, on ready-to-build BLM land. At best, this was a troublesome stand-off between what you might call 'small-town wisdom' versus big-guy government. At worst - it was another prime example of how government thinks it knows best and always gets its way. "I'd really like a common sense answer to a common sense issue as to why the border patrol would want this Forward Operating Base further away from the border, rather than closer to it?" asked Hidalgo Co Commissioner, Darr Shannon in opening moments. "At one point, we, (the public) were asked about our reasoning for wanting a close-to-the border site," said Shannon, "The question was asked, "'Do you really want our border officers to be in a jeopardized position near the border?". Meanwhile, one of the more vocal residents at the meeting, Di Massey, clearly hit a chord with words that rang all too true for folks standing on both sides of the decision. "If you're saying that the proposed site isn't really meant to be a deterrent ...Then, I have to ask you, why isn't it being considered, and, if the drug traffickers can see you, know you're there and stay away -- why wouldn't you want that to happen?"...more

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