- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 9, 2005

Questionable calls

I’m not sure what emotional outburst is more fitting for the current school security fiasco (“Security firm has shaky fiscal past,” Metropolitan, Tuesday). One thing, however, appears certain: Members of the D.C. Council and the D.C. Public Schools are not doing due diligence on important matters put before them. This is cause for grave concern.

The most recent evidence of this is the $30 million per year school security and citywide contract award to Hawk One Security, the most expensive, admittedly inexperienced, bidder, which also carries a high financial risk.

The fact is, Hawk One is, at the very least, ineligible for contract award because of its checkered financial past, questionable financial present and uncertain financial future.

Diligence would have revealed this company’s severe financial distress and raised a red flag. Yet nothing was done, and our government officials continue to make important decisions out of ignorance.

I can cite countless more examples of blatant incompetence. In March 2004, a parent mistakenly testified to the D.C. Council that a Watkins Security guard had taken a student to the prom. The fact is, the supposed incident predated Watkins’ tenure as the city’s security contractor, which began in September 2003. Proms are in June.

In October 2004, the Office of the Inspector General reported that Watkins was the most expensive and least competent bidder in the 2003 school-security bid. The fact is, Watkins was the highest-ranked responsive offer — on the final technical evaluation — and was the midpriced of five offerers. These are indisputable facts as reported in the OIG’s report.

Also, let’s not forget police Deputy Chief Administrative Officer Margaret Poethig’s open admittance, under oath, that she lacked “knowledge in this [school security] area” and was “not qualified” to chair the evaluation panel.

Our due diligence leads us to ask Council member Kathy Patterson and other District government officials one important question: Why are you so driven to “keep Watkins from entering through the gate,” as one official has stated publicly, by hiring a high-risk, high-cost and self-admittedly inexperienced company to provide quality, cost-effective security services to our children? D.C. taxpayers and students deserve better than that.

DONNA HENRY

Communications specialist

Watkins Security

Washington

Less than objective

I urge readers of The Washington Times to learn what Eugene Bird meant when he wrote: “The CNI Foundation has been working for an objective and centrist, not leftist, policy toward Israel, one that puts America first in the Middle East” (Letters, Monday).

On its Web site, the Council for the National Interest denounces the Israeli fence, which has saved countless American Christian and Jewish vacationers in Israel, calling it an “Apartheid Wall.” Mr. Bird’s Web site has an article published in the Beirut Daily Star, which calls Yasser Arafat a man with warmth who is no different from “the colonists who rebelled against King George in 1776.” In the “Google age,” one cannot simply claim objectivity without meaning it.

BRETT FREEMAN

Chicago

IACP is out of touch

Mike Walker’s column on the International Association of Chiefs of Police (“Local talent needed,” Op-Ed, Monday) ignores some pretty basic facts that undercut the IACP’s credibility.

First, the IACP is a leading proponent of citizen disarmament. It irresponsibly supports dangerous legislation such as mandated waiting periods for firearms purchases, even for attack victims. It also supports ammunition and firearms — purchase restrictions — except for its members.

One need only look to the aftermath of Hurricane Andrew to see the absurdity of some IACP positions. Indeed, the looting in the aftermath of Andrew showed that it is highly unlikely that a law officer will be around to protect people and property from crime or to prevent it, and that is just as likely for a terrorist attack.

It’s dangerous to take an organization like IACP seriously.

Homeland security begins at home. We are responsible for our own safety; nobody else is. People need to take responsibility for themselves and their own safety and not rely on some government program or agency to assist in the event of an emergency.

You can learn more about “homeland security” and emergency preparedness from the Boy Scouts of America than from the International Association of Chiefs of Police. That probably is because the Boy Scouts have adult supervision.

DAVE YATES

Alexandria

A tribute to Reagan

One year ago this week, America said goodbye to Ronald Reagan (“A year on, many still mourn for Reagan,” Page 1, Sunday). For an entire week, the world witnessed an incredible outpouring of love and admiration by the American people. Thousands made pilgrimages to Washington and California to pay their last respects to a man who did much for our country. I was one of them. My dad, brother and I drove through the night from Kansas City, Mo., to wait hours in line for the privilege of passing through the Capitol Rotunda. It was an experience that I will never forget or regret. Mr. Reagan may be gone, but his legacy will last for generations to come.

Much has changed since Mr. Reagan sat in the Oval Office. He was criticized constantly for his economic programs. His “terrible decisions” helped our economy grow. Mr. Reagan’s intelligence was questioned, though recent publications of his personal letters and writings prove that he thoroughly studied and researched the issues facing America. It was said that Mr. Reagan’s foreign policy was certain to start a conflict with the Soviet Union that would end in a nuclear winter. Instead, Mr. Reagan won the Cold War. His steely resolve crumbled the Berlin Wall.

Revisionist historians will contend that Mr. Reagan was simply at the right place at the right time. Nothing could be further from the truth. Mr. Reagan was not some lucky presidential lottery winner who benefited from the circumstances he inherited. When he took office, the economy was languishing in unbearable inflation. The American military was demoralized after suffering repeated budget cuts and was in danger of becoming permanently inferior to the Soviet Army. America had lost respect around the world; hostages were held in Iran. Attempts at rescuing them were unsuccessful, further lowering American esteem and pride.

Because of Mr. Reagan, things changed dramatically. His presidency transformed America and the world because of the decisions he made. Today, America stands as the world’s sole superpower. That was unimaginable when he took the oath of office. Now it is hard to imagine a time when America was not the greatest or the strongest. We owe our superiority to Mr. Reagan.

During Mr. Reagan’s presidency, there was “Morning in America.” When he finally passed away last June, there was great mourning in America. Some were puzzled and surprised by the outpouring; those people who already understood the impact Mr. Reagan had had on our country were not. Mr. Reagan has slipped the “surly bonds of earth to touch the face of God,” but millions of Americans whom he touched remain.

The sun has set on Mr. Reagan’s life, but morning is still breaking in the country he loved.

JUSTIN D. SMITH

Blue Springs, Mo.


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