Barrett Kaiser - Public Land Advocate
'This is about furthering a right-wing extremist agenda,' says public lands advocate
Barrett Kaiser of the Center For Western Priorities spoke to the crowd to offer an opposing viewpoint after Ammon Bundy's Friday morning press conference. "This isn't about loving your neighbor," said Kaiser, "this is about furthering a right-wing extremist agenda."
We already know that the citizens of Harney County do not want the Bundy militia around, but neither should the rest of us. Their stupidity is costing us a fortune.
While it may seem that occupying an empty, powerless wildlife refuge during the harsh Oregon winter would be an exercise in harmless stupidity, a fuller picture is emerging that reveals the Bundys and their fellow anti-government extremists are costing America hundreds of thousands of dollars a week in tax money.
The occupation of the refuge is still centered around a single building, the amount of extremists with guns marching around and threatening to shoot cops has meant nearby buildings have also had to be evacuated. The employees have been placed on paid leave for their own safety. This means that while protesting the government, the militia has caused a costly shutdown of operations that actually wastes more money than it saves.
Government Executive did some digging and found that the total amount of money being paid out to employees that can no longer do their job without risk being caught in the crossfire of this ill conceived insurrection is staggering.
Nearly 120 permanent and seasonal employees report to BLM’s district office in Burns, Ore., nearly all of whom are now on paid administrative leave.The salaries of those workers total approximately $117,000 per week, according to a BLM spokesman. The office has already been closed for more than one week. About 50 more employees work at the refuge center or the Forest Service’s Emigrant Creek Ranger District office, many of whom are also on paid leave.An official at the Harney County, Ore., joint information center — which is handling inquiries on the situation — who refused to be identified due to “security threats,” said federal officials “don’t have a cost estimate yet” on the other two facility closures, noting they are dealing with a “fluid situation.”
In other words, the expenses are only getting worse as the siege continues and the tension mounts.
Hundreds of thousands of dollars have already been lost and the militia is only growing more emboldened. On January 8, the Harney County Sheriff’s Department announced that negotiations have all but fallen apart and the militia appears to have dug in for the long haul.
Statement from Sheriff Ward: pic.twitter.com/6fz0OenM4d— Harney Cty. Sheriff (@HarneyCoSheriff) January 8, 2016
While the militia has been dismissed by some as clowns (and they are), they are still dangerous. But even “fiscal conservatives” should have a problem with this approach. They are expensive dangerous clowns. Every day they stay in Oregon and continue to make threats, the total damage caused by their actions continues to tick upwards.
Feature image via YouTube screengrab