or something. I’m faced with surgery and don’t expect to be blogging for another month or so. See you soon!
DIRECTLY FROM THE WAPO:
Republican state lawmakers in Florida called on Sunday for the suspension of Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel, accusing him of “incompetence and neglect of duty” in the months before the Feb. 14 mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.
Florida House Speaker Richard Corcoran and 73 Republican colleagues urged Gov. Rick Scott (R) to suspend Israel, a Democrat who was reelected in 2016 and has said he would not resign over his agency’s handling of one of the country’s deadliest school shootings.
“Sheriff Israel failed to maintain a culture of alertness, vigilance and thoroughness amongst his deputies,” Corcoran wrote in a letter released Sunday. “As a result of Sheriff Israel’s failures, students and teachers died.”
Israel said before the letter’s release that the agency had stumbled in its handling of red flags about the accused shooter, including multiple warnings that he could carry out such an attack, but that he should not be held personally responsible.
“I can only take responsibility for what I knew about,” Israel said Sunday morning in an interview on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “I’ve given amazing leadership to this agency.”
The sheriff has faced intensifying questions about his office’s response to the massacre after the revelation that an armed deputy on the scene did not enter the school while the shooter was inside. That deputy, Scot Peterson, retired last week after being suspended.
Israel said Sunday that he should not be faulted for Peterson’s actions. “You don’t measure a person’s leadership by a deputy not going in,” he said.
State Rep. Bill Hager (R-Boca Raton) sent a letter to Gov. Scott on Saturday accusing Israel of “neglect and incompetence” and calling for his removal. Israel said Sunday, “Of course I won’t resign,” adding that Hager’s letter was “shameful” and “politically motivated.”
The Florida Department of Law Enforcement said Sunday afternoon that it would launch an investigation, at Gov. Scott’s request, into the shooting’s law-enforcement response. Similar reviews have been put together after previous mass shootings, and they frequently identify ways law-enforcement agencies could have improved their actions before and during such attacks.
Sheriff Israel said in a statement Sunday that his agency welcomed the investigation and believed “in full transparency and accountability,” adding, “This independent, outside review will ensure public confidence in the findings.”
National Rifle Association spokeswoman Dana Loesch, speaking Sunday on ABC’s “This Week,” also accused the sheriff’s office of “dereliction of duty” and said Israel should face increased scrutiny.
“I wish that as much attention were given to the Broward County sheriff and their abdication of duty as trying to blame 5 million innocent law-abiding gun owners all across the country for this,” Loesch said. “I want to see as much attention on the Broward County sheriff, the FBI, the two FBI tips and the numerous calls. … Families and neighbors called the Broward County Sheriff’s Office to report this individual, and they did not follow up.”
David Hogg, a senior at the school, called Israel “a good man” during an interview on “This Week” and said “he cares about the people.” But Hogg said there were breakdowns in procedures. “Were there mistakes made? Absolutely.”
Local and federal authorities received numerous calls about the accused shooter, 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz, before the attack, including at least four suggesting that he could carry out a school shooting and a 911 call saying he had pointed a gun at someone.
Israel said Sunday that most of those tips were handled appropriately but that, in two of the calls, “we’re not sure if deputies did everything they could have or should have.”
When CNN host Jake Tapper asked Israel if he thought the shooting might not have happened if the agency had done things differently, Israel said, “If ifs and buts were candy and nuts, O.J. Simpson would still be in the record books.” He added, “We understand everything wasn’t done perfectly.”
Israel also noted that he believed Peterson’s inactions could have cost lives. “Do I believe if Scot Peterson went into that building, there was a chance he could have neutralized the killer and saved lives? Yes, I believe that,” he said.
Israel said an internal investigation into the office’s handling of the shooting is ongoing. “We will investigate every action of our deputies, of their supervisors,” he said, “and if they did things wrong, I’ll take care of business in a disciplinary matter, just like I did with Peterson.”
During a six-minute rampage inside the Parkland high school, police say, Cruz fatally shot 17 students and faculty members before blending in with the fleeing teenagers and escaping the campus. He was taken into custody later that afternoon and could face the death penalty if convicted.
Police from the neighboring city of Coral Springs have said three other Broward deputies besides Peterson were waiting behind cars outside the school when they responded to the shooting. Israel said Sunday that only Peterson, then the school resource officer, was at the school during the shooting.
A spokeswoman for Israel’s office, in a statement released late Saturday, insisted there was “no confirmation, at this time, other deputies did not enter the school when they should have.” She said this claim continues to be investigated.
The Coral Springs police said in a statement that they were “aware of media reports” but were not going to comment because of the ongoing investigation.
The Washington Post has been unable to reach Peterson, who has not spoken publicly.
Andrew Pollack, the father of Meadow Pollack, one of the students who died in the Parkland shooting, addressed Peterson during a Sunday morning appearance on the Fox broadcast network.
“There is one deputy that worked there. Peterson. He worked there, and he’s a coward,” Pollack said. “He stood by the door. I know for a fact that he could have made it to the third floor and saved all six victims, if he wasn’t some little .… Words can’t even describe the way that I think about him. But I am not trying to think about that stuff because that’s just negative and it’s just going to make me toxic.”
Some survivors of the attack have said that they understand Peterson’s reluctance to go inside, given that he may have been afraid, while others have expressed frustration at the warning signs missed over the years.
But they also said that most students are focusing their anger on pushing for new gun-control laws rather than blaming anyone for failures leading up to or during the shooting.
“I’m not angry; I understand that things happen,” said Carly Novell, a 17-year-old senior who survived the massacre. “But, really, the only way that it could have been prevented is gun control. It all leads back to the gun. He couldn’t have killed all these people if he didn’t have a gun.”
Since the Columbine massacre in 1999, it has become widely accepted police protocol to respond to active shooters by rushing to the scene and stopping the threat. The Broward County Sheriff’s Office has not responded to a request to release its active-shooter policies, but Israel had said the deputy should have rushed inside.
Israel’s office released a letter late Saturday that he wrote to Scott in response to Hager’s call for the sheriff’s removal from office.
Israel, who was reelected in 2016, stressed in the letter that Peterson was the only law enforcement officer on the campus during the shooting. He also wrote that Coral Springs police received the initial 911 call and went inside the school first without realizing that the shooter had left four minutes earlier, suggesting that these officers believed they were pursuing an armed attacker or attackers.
In his letter, Israel wrote that these Coral Springs officers were followed by others from that department and Broward sheriff’s deputies. However, his letter does not say when any of the responding officers learned that the gunfire had ended and the shooter had fled, nor does it say whether his deputies waited outside the school first before going in.
Israel’s office has declined to make him available for an interview with The Washington Post. His interview Sunday on CNN was his second appearance on the cable network in less than a week. On Wednesday, he participated in a televised town hall that the network hosted in South Florida that included survivors of the attack, their relatives and Loesch, the NRA spokeswoman.
Tapper, who also had hosted the town hall, asked Israel in the interview Sunday whether he had known during his town hall appearance that Peterson had failed to go inside. At the town hall, the sheriff had been sharply critical of the NRA spokeswoman.
Israel said that they were still investigating reports about Peterson at the time and that it was not the appropriate time to tell the families about the deputy’s actions. “I couldn’t disclose it then,” he said. “That’s not the way you do things, over a news camera. You do it individually. You meet privately with families. You have compassion. You don’t do it at a public forum. And we weren’t ready to do it anyway.”
Officials have been sharply criticized for how they handled the slew of red flags littering Cruz’s life before the shooting. Cruz repeatedly came to the attention of law enforcement officials, social services investigators and school authorities, but none of that prevented him from passing a background check and buying the AR-15 that police said he used to carry out the shooting.
The FBI admitted that it never investigated a January tip saying that Cruz could shoot up a school. The Broward sheriff’s office also said it received at least two similar warnings, but there is no evidence that either of these led to any investigation.
The Broward sheriff’s office said it has launched internal reviews of how it handled the two prior warnings, which were among 23 calls the agency said it received relating to Cruz or his family.
In a February 2016 call, a tipster warned that Cruz “planned to shoot up the school.” The information was relayed to Peterson, the sheriff’s office said, but it remains unclear what happened after.
In November 2017, a tip came in to the Broward sheriff’s office from a caller warning that Cruz was collecting guns and knives and might be “a school shooter in the making.” Cruz’s mother had died that month, and he was briefly living with a family in Palm Beach County.
The sheriff’s office said the deputy who took the call never filed a report and, speaking after the massacre, told investigators he referred the caller to the sheriff’s office in Palm Beach. However, the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office told The Washington Post that it had no record of receiving that threat.
Michael Scherer, Kevin Sullivan and John Wagner contributed to this report, which has been corrected. It originally said that Andrew Pollack spoke to Fox News, rather than the Fox broadcasting network.
From the WAPO, here’s where we stand. Trump has alienated us from our closest allies.
Speaking by phone on Tuesday, Peña Nieto and Trump devoted a considerable portion of their roughly 50 minute conversation to the wall, and neither man would compromise his position.
One Mexican official said Trump “lost his temper.” But U.S. officials described him instead as being frustrated and exasperated, saying Trump believed it was unreasonable for Peña Nieto to expect him to back off his crowd-pleasing campaign promise of forcing Mexico to pay for the wall.
Both accounts confirm it was Peña Nieto’s desire to avoid public embarrassment — and Trump’s unwillingness to provide that assurance — that proved to be the dealbreaker.
A physically slight man, Peña Nieto has been loath to put himself in an environment in which the more imposing Trump could play the bully. Peña Nieto’s style is exceedingly formal, and he is averse to verbal combat, making his carefully scripted public events the opposite of Trump’s often freewheeling appearances.
With Mexico heading into a July presidential election, any action by Peña Nieto that could be seen as kowtowing to Trump or buckling under U.S. pressure risks damaging the prospects for his Institutional Revolutionary Party.
The two presidents’ public posturing over the wall — Trump demands that Mexico pay for it; Peña Nieto insists that it will not — has harmed their personal relationship and jeopardized the alliance between their neighboring countries.
“The problem is that President Trump has painted himself, President Peña Nieto and the bilateral relationship into a corner,” said Arturo Sarukhan, a former Mexican ambassador to the United States. “Even from the get-go, the idea of Mexico paying for the wall was never going to fly. His relationship with Mexico isn’t strategically driven. It’s not even business; it’s personal, driven by motivations and triggers, and that’s a huge problem. It could end up with the U.S. asking itself, ‘Who lost Mexico?’ ”
Still, negotiations between their respective administrations continue apace on the North American Free Trade Agreement and other issues. And both governments have strived to portray their ties as strong and the exchanges between their leaders as smooth.
“We enjoy a great relationship with Mexico and the two administrations have been working for a year to deepen our cooperation across a range of issues including security, immigration, trade and economics,” Michael Anton, the top spokesman for Trump’s National Security Council, said in a statement.
Mexican Foreign Secretary Luis Videgaray called the U.S.-Mexico relationship closer under Trump than in previous administrations.
“I think in many ways the relationship today is more fluid,” Videgaray said earlier this month in Mexico City alongside Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. “It’s closer than it was with previous administrations, which might be surprising to some people, but that’s a fact of life.”
Traditionally, U.S. presidents have prioritized visits with their Mexican counterparts soon after taking office, considering the close ties between the neighboring countries.
But in January 2017, just days into Trump’s presidency, Peña Nieto called off a planned trip to meet Trump in Washington amid an escalating war of words between the two leaders over Trump’s border wall proposal.
In a Jan. 28, 2017, phone call, a transcript of which was published last yearby The Washington Post, Trump suggested to Peña Nieto that they both try to gloss over their respective wall positions by saying “we will work it out” whenever asked whether Mexico would pay for the wall.
“The fact is, we are both in a little bit of a political bind because I have to have Mexico pay for the wall,” Trump told Peña Nieto. “I have to. I have been talking about it for a two-year period. . . . If you are going to say that Mexico is not going to pay for the wall, then I do not want to meet with you guys anymore because I cannot live with that.”
Since that call, Trump has not visited Mexico City and Peña Nieto has not been to Washington, although the two presidents have spoken by phone and met in person in July at the Group of 20 summit in Germany. The two also met in summer 2016, when Trump traveled to Mexico City as a candidate.
Earlier this month, a delegation of Mexican officials led by Videgaray met at the White House with senior adviser Jared Kushner — the president’s son-in-law, who is charged among other things with managing the U.S.-Mexico relationship — national security adviser H.R. McMaster and other Trump administration officials to work out the parameters for a Peña Nieto visit, officials said.
The Mexican officials left the Feb. 14 meeting believing they had an agreement with the U.S. side that Trump would not embarrass Peña Nieto by bringing up his desire for Mexico to fund the wall — a proposition Peña Nieto’s government considers humiliating.
One Mexican official describing his country’s position said, “You cannot talk about the bloody wall.” This official said Videgaray left Washington believing Trump would not broach the wall during Peña Nieto’s visit.
Trump and Peña Nieto made plans to speak by phone Feb. 20, and, assuming the call went well, their staffs would finalize an itinerary for the Mexican president’s White House visit.
But the call did not go smoothly, according to officials from both governments. Trump said he would not be bound by any such agreement and could not commit himself to not talking about the wall.
“That was a dealbreaker for us,” the Mexican official said, adding that Peña Nieto and his administration were concerned in particular about a reporter asking a question about funding for the wall at a news conference and Trump answering it.
Instead of announcing a date for a meeting in Washington, the statements issued by both governments summarizing the call were vague and said only that they had discussed their bilateral agenda on trade, security and migration issues. The statements also said the two presidents exchanged condolences for the high school gun massacre in Parkland, Fla., and the military helicopter accident in Jamiltepec, Oaxaca.
Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, whose department is responsible for border issues, has canceled an upcoming visit to Mexico. A Department of Homeland Security official denied Saturday that Nielsen’s trip was scratched because of Trump and Peña Nieto’s disagreement, saying the decision to “postpone” her Mexico trip was made a week before the two presidents spoke.
U.S. officials said Trump and Peña Nieto agreed to have their staffs continue talking and try to reach an agreement about the border wall and other issues. A few hours after the two presidents spoke, officials said, Kushner called Peña Nieto to help smooth things over.
U.S. officials said they anticipate that Peña Nieto may try again to visit Washington, perhaps in the spring, and the Mexican official suggested that the two presidents may get together in April at the Summit of the Americas in Lima, Peru.
“Build the wall!” was a signature slogan of Trump’s campaign and has continued to be one through his presidency, even though Congress has not yet fully funded its construction. At his rallies, Trump would cry out, “Who’s going to pay for the wall?” His crowds would shout their answer back: “Mexico!”
Speaking Friday at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Maryland, Trump told his fans, “Don’t worry, you’re getting the wall,” adding that whenever he hears someone suggest that he does not really want to build a wall, “the wall gets 10 feet higher.”
Trump’s statements are considered offensive and outright racist by many Mexicans, who accuse the U.S. president of using their country as a punching bag to motivate his most fervent supporters.
In private, Mexican officials bristle at Trump’s claims that their government is passively allowing drugs and Central American migrants to pass through en route to the United States.
The number of Central Americans detained and turned back by Mexican authorities has at times exceeded the number caught by U.S. border agents, but enforcement by the Peña Nieto government appears to have waned in recent years.
Still, there is an understanding in Mexico that Trump is playing to his national interests, according to Larry Rubin, a businessman who for years has been a leader among U.S. Republicans on Mexico.
“There’s a better understanding of where President Trump is coming from and what his objective is and what his style is,” Rubin said. “Like in any negotiations, there is always posturing or issues that countries don’t agree with. But overall they have so many similarities.”
Carol D. Leonnig contributed to this report.
From SF Gate. You knew you could count on us. They’re in Modesto and may be on the move.
Read about ’em HERE
GUNS- It must have taken Our Fake President at least 25 seconds to come up with the idea of reviving that old saw about “the only antidote to a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun,” That’s only correct if you see guns as a solution, not the problem. Of course, Don doesn’t DO his own thinking – he has Wayne La Pierre whispering in his ear and he gets the rest of his agenda from Sean Hannity. I wonder how he can keep a straight face claiming that HE would have stormed the school without a weapon. Of course, of course.
“The SNAKE”- I was VERY surprised to hear that the writer of that damn “snake” song was Oscar Brown Jr! He was a fixture of the folk scene in the ’60’s but the song was covered by several other people. I remember hearing it on top-40 radio and thinking it was Ray Stevens. (This was around the time of “Ahab The Arab”.) His two daughters have been complaining on TV about the misappropriation so why don’t they just SUE the bastard?
The Olympics- ran out of interesting sports before they ran out of broadcast time. That must be why we were subjected to several hours of CURLING which has got to be the most useless waste of ice, time, whatever.
Things you don’t know about me: 1) I do not text, nor respond to texts 2) I have never eaten a Big Mac.
Humboldt County is in big trouble- Our child welfare system is inadequate and we don’t have enough doctors. Please keep this in mind when examining the candidates for Supervisor this Fall.
WHY CAN’T JARED GET A CLEARANCE??? Jared Kushner, who doesn’t have a security clearance after a year and a half of hanging around the White House devouring the daily brief that the President can’t be bothered with, IS A BILLION DOLLARS IN DEBT from that ill-advised purchase of 666 5th Avenue His note is coming due in a few months. Who will bail him out?? The Russians? The Chinese? What a mess!
LOCAL BOZOS DEPARTMENT- did you see the Times-Standard yesterday?. A part-time teacher in Fortuna (thankfully retired) claims he was packing a pistol while subbing in Fortuna ! Can he be prosecuted at this point? I hope so!!!
It’s 37 pages of delicious reading. Share it with your kids. This is history! Right HERE
A roundup from The Hill. Mark Cuban says there’s a 10% chance HE will. Can one reality TV start rescue us from another ??
Read about it HERE
The Harbor Group is holding its monthly luncheon NEXT Wednesday! Call to reserve your place. Meatloaf!!
CBP’s Role in International Seaports
EUREKA– Humboldt Bay Harbor Working Group (HBHWG) welcomes John Prince, Customs and Border Protection Federal Officer, Department of Homeland Security.
Prince will provide an outline of the processes of an active seaport, focusing on what is required to import or export federally. Following Mr. Prince’s presentation, he will field questions!
This forum is scheduled for Wednesday, February 28th, at Samoa Cookhouse from 12:30 to 1 p.m., with lunch served from noon to 12:30 p.m.
Meatloaf will be served for lunch at $16 and soup and salad is available for $12. To RSVP please contact 707-441-1974 or email: Charles.Bean@Yahoo.com
From the San Francisco Business News
Read about it HERE
HOW DUMB IS TRUMP? Does he really believe the FBI exists in a single room and can only do one thing at a time? Now he’s claiming the Russia investigation kept the FBI from checking out the Florida shooter. He probably doesn’t know that the FBI has over 30K employees. Shouldn’t have skipped those briefings, Don. Keep it up, Don. You’re not as smart as you think you are.
FEDERAL TAX FORMS- I’ve been wondering where they were. Now the County website says they’ll be here in ‘Late February.” So hang tight. Or hang loose. I’ve never figured out which you re supposed to say.
INTERESTING STATS: Broward County FL has ONE (1) high school counselor for each 462 students.
MOMMAS DONT LET YOUR BABIES GROW UP TO BE TRUCK DRIVERS- For years , employment counselors could count on Swift or someone always being in the market for truck drivers. No more! “More than 3.7 million Americans make a living behind the wheel and 3.1 million of those jobs are at risk”, according to Tim Dickinson’s article in the Jan 11 issue. Self-driving cars are safer and more reliable than human-driven. Trump, of course, wants to cut the DOL retraining budget. And as usual, the Chinese are ‘way ahead of us.
Speaking of transportation, according to the New York Times, that city’s partially completed Second Avenue subway is costing SIX TIMES MORE than a similar line extension in Paris. WHY???? Don’t blame the unions. Their unions are ferocious compared with ours.
THE ROB PORTER MESS- is probably just an indicator of how sloppy and mismanaged our White House is. Porter had to abuse BOTH his ex-wives AND a girlfriend? People with hair like that are always either vampires or Mormons. 130 people without security clearances? Obama would have been run out of town on a rail.
WATCHING THE OLYMPICS- a distraction for which we’re all grateful. I like the Winter Olympics better than the Summer because I will never, ever, do anything even remotely like that. I tried to ice skate once. Once.
ADS I LOVE- I love the ad with the Ray Charles music. Who could resist that? And i love the ad with Butch the coonhound who doesn’t like his owner’s new boyfriend. Well done!
THE BRISTOL ROSE CAFE is closed by the heath department. This is a place I have never visited. Tried to eat there once but turned away because the whole place was empty and it was just too creepy. The Eureka Inn is such a jewel but I’m afraid the current owner has neither the cash nor the expertise to run the place, What a shame!!!
So here we are on Presidents’ Day, with the worst President EVER in the White House. He’s gross, egomaniacal, wouldn’t know empathy if he hit it in the road, ignorant, crass and came up with a budget plan so bad his own staff is ashamed of it. Read over the indictment and know that better days are coming.