The Rundown

By Allen David

Posted June 9, 2011 in News


The Norco City Council, a five-member panel of human beings who inexplicably make the big decisions in place called Horsetown USA, today decide by a 4-1 to slash the Fire Department budget by $1 million. That’s right, $1 million, which any way you look at it is lopping off an awful lot from a brave and highly trained category of public employees who derive a lot of pride from lugging around their long-and-heavy hoses in our service. But every hose has its hose-ee, and when the council members got a look at what they’d been paying those firefighters . . . well, look for yourself: city documents show that 24 of Norco’s 26 firefighters made more than $100,000 from 2009 to 2010, when the Fire Department accrued more than $810,000 in overtime. Yeah, I felt that, too—deeply. And there’s this: sure, being a firefighter is brave—when there is a fire. The rest of the time, being a firefighter is just hot, right? So why do these body-by-gorgeous de-facto heroes get paid as handsomely as they look, whether or not they ever do any firefighting more dangerous than blowing out the candles on their retirement cakes? Ahh, our stupid human resentments, I reflect as I drift off to sleep. Despite the incessant chanting of their city motto, the people of Norco so quickly forget about the most-important creatures in Horsetown, USA.


“ . . . I heard Ginger coughing and one of the other horses seemed very restless; it was quite dark, and I could see nothing, but the stable seemed full of smoke, and I hardly knew how to breathe . . . Then I heard a cry of ‘Fire!’ outside. The next thing I heard was James’ voice, quiet and cheery, as it always was. I stood nearest the door, so he came to me first, patting me as he came in. ‘Come, Black Beauty, on with your bridle, my boy, we’ll soon be out of this smother.’ He took the scarf off his neck, and tied it lightly over my eyes, and patting and coaxing he led me out of the stable . . . There was a dreadful sound—the shrieks of those poor horses that were left burning to death in the stable—it was very terrible!”


Two things I just learned: Black Beauty, the book, was the only novel Anna Sewell ever wrote; Black Beauty, the horse, was a dude!


James Lavarias, 42, is riding in a car with his sister, who is driving, and his 77-year-old aunt, who is driving . . . him crazy. Been there. James is under the influence of alcohol and drugs. Been there, too. James gets in an argument with his aunt and sister—I’m still there—then takes control of the car, and while it is still moving, pushes his aunt out the door and onto the freeway—OK, now, this is new—and leaves her with his sister on the side of the road as he drives away—and this is totally f*#@ed up! The aunt’s injuries are minor, meaning the car wasn’t moving very fast when she was kicked—but this is no excuse—and it takes the cops less than a half-hour to find and arrest James on suspicion of carjacking, assault with a deadly weapon and elder abuse . . . because the car has LoJack—and this is an idiot.


Another year of education is wrapping up at the Public Safety Academy, and because the Public Safety Academy is a Charter School—where people aren’t tied to the ineffective and expensive bureaucracy that has pretty much blasted our children’s future into the pooper—nobody has to worry: everything is being administered earnestly and ethically. Of course, any organization will have little dust-ups, and Public Safety Academy’s Board of Trustees did place school founder and CEO Michael Dickinson on paid leave . . . and terminated sixth-grade teacher Susan Dickinson, who is Michael’s wife and was accused by two other teachers of helping her classes cheat on state tests . . . and fired chief financial officer, Mike Davis. And, yeah, Michael Dickinson then did order that the board be dissolved. And no, that doesn’t explain more than a dozen problems that an independent analyst discovered in the school’s financial operations, such as submitting three different financial statements to the state Department of Education and an inconsistency between how much money the school said it had in the bank ($82,911) and how much the school’s QuickBooks ledger showed ($893). But otherwise, have a bitchen summer!


I don’t know, what’s going on with you?


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