Gobbledygook From The Bureaugurus

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Lord knows, we don’t want to jump to conclusions. Just because the steaks are gone and there’s dog-slobbered styrofoam and plastic all over the living room floor don’t mean Lobo ate the meat.

Just because the baby’s crying and the nursery smells like an outhouse don’t mean it’s time to change the diaper.

Just because the check for the bass boat cleared and the check for the mortgage bounced don’t mean you got no money sense.

Even so — it’s hard not to conclude that the U.S. Forest Service’s regional contracting office in Albuquerque blew it big time when it awarded to Pioneer Associates a contract to thin 300,000 acres of firetrap forests, the first contract in the 4 Forest Restoration Initiative.

Now, the High and Holy Contracting Office Bureaugurus haven’t returned phone calls — and didn’t explain their inscrutable decision-making process. One gets the impression they went through some ancient and secret process involving the blood of first borns and burning chicken entrails.

So the Bureaugurus emerged from the Inner Sanctum and spoke in tongues to the baffled multitudes. Turns out, the out-of-state company with little involvement won the bid over the in-state company that has been there every step of the way for seven long years.

Mind you, the in-state company offered to pay taxpayers roughly $10 million more for the contract. If that’s not bad enough: The company that won the bid had as its front man a Forest Service insider, with a record more notable for conflict than conciliation.

Perhaps you think we’re exaggerating.

Here’s how bad it is: Gila County Supervisor Tommie Martin sounds even more angry with the Forest Service than the Center for Biological Diversity, which has made a career out of suing said Forest Service. You had to wipe down her letter before you read it: That’s how violently she was sputtering.

Now, maybe once the Bureauguru Oracles come down from the mountain and explain themselves, it’ll all turn out to be some clever little Forest Service joke. They’ll crack a little sly smile as the fuming county supervisors, university researchers, timber executives and environmentalists gather around and say, “Got you. Pretty funny, huh?”

But in the meantime, we’re thinking it’s time to roll up a newspaper, whap the dog across the nose, change the diaper and balance the darn checkbook.

The sentence is a crime

He’s 74 years old. He’s a pillar of the community, a father, a veteran — known for his community service.

But he’s far more dangerous than a murderer or a rapist, according to Gov. Jan Brewer.

The governor recently saw fit to ignore the Arizona Clemency Board’s plea to set aside Robert Thomas Flibotte’s absurd and futile 90-year sentence for collecting child pornography over the Internet. Gila County Superior Court Judge Peter Cahill lamented the savage sentence as he imposed it, but observed he had no choice because of state sentencing guidelines.

Please note: A study by the U.S. Department of Justice concluded that the average murderer receives a sentence of about 253 months, with a minimum time served of 70 months. The average rapist draws a sentence of 140 months, with a minimum time served of 54 months. So Flibotte’s sentence works out to four murders.

Absurd. We’d say it’s a crime, but who knows what kind of sentence we’d get for that.

Further note: Arizona has an incarceration rate nearly 15 percent above the national average. That’s no small feat, since the U.S. now has the highest incarceration rate in the world, with a rate seven times greater than Europe, Canada or Australia.

Arizona spends more than a billion dollars a year locking people up, many of them non-violent offenders like Flibotte. This year, the governor signed a budget that virtually froze K-12 budgets at 2006 levels — but added $55 million to build more privately run prisons.

Now, we don’t minimize the gravity of Flibotte’s crime. The silent watchers create a market for this vile victimization of children. But if Gov. Brewer wants to prove she’s fanatical about crime, she should go after the scumballs who make the videos and maintain the Web sites.

We hope the Clemency Board will take up Flibotte’s case again — either next year or once we have a governor with a functioning connection between head and heart.

In the meantime, Flibotte will remain in jail at taxpayer expense, rather than performing community service, raising money to ease the suffering of crime victims or helping educate people about the terrible addiction of child pornography.

And the murderers will do their 253 months, with time off for good behavior.

Does that make you feel safe?

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