January 26, 2010

A Couple of Colleagues Who Read This Blog…

…have e-mailed me, wondering why I haven’t yet commented herein on the Errol Southers kerfuffle. After all, they reasonably reason, I do tend to pursue topics that concern the government’s affairs regarding our mutual area of endeavor, especially those of the Transportation Security Administration, with what one of my distinguished colleagues describes as “a tenacity that would make a pit bull envious”.

So here goes…

Truth to tell, I was first pleased, then disappointed by and at the same time, cynic that I’ve become where the neo-Democrats are concerned, unsurprised by the entire affair, from Southers’ nomination to his stepping down as nominee.

When he was first put forward by the Administration, I thought, Alright (High Five!!!!), the White House is finally getting it! Unlike in their appointment of the supremely unqualified and profoundly incompetent Janet Napolitano as National Security Advisor, they’re actually looking to appoint a qualified security professional to head up a security agency, the TSA no less.

Assistant Chief of the Los Angeles World Airports Police Department’s Office of Homeland Security and Intelligence, head of USC’s Center for Risk and Economic Analysis of Terrorism Events. Well thought of in the security field, a man who has devoted his career to security and counter-terrorism and who is an expert on both counts.

The man was also appointed by the Governator as Deputy Director for Critical Infrastructure Protection of the California Office of Homeland Security.

Since he earned his Master’s Degree in Public Administration at Brown University and later served on the Santa Monica Police Department and the faculty of the Rio Hondo Police Academy, every aspect of his career has been dedicated to the protection of the public and combating terrorism, and eminently qualify him to head up TSA. While with the FBI, he worked in counter-espionage and counter-terrorism, and was a shooter to boot: he was a member of their elite SWAT team.

Southers’ vision for the future of the agency, in the training aspects, the adoption of Israeli methods for identifying potential threats and enhanced utilization of existing technologies, was exactly what is needed.

I was truly impressed. The Obama Administration was actually going to put the right person in the right position, a real security expert as Director of the TSA!

Who’d a’ thunk it!?

And then…

…along came the broadsides, first the revelation that Southers was entertaining the idea of unionizing (collective bargaining, anyone?) the TSA.

“What!!!?” I exclaimed.

I’m sorry, but I in no way believe in unionizing any part of critical infrastructure, and as a protection professional, there’s no way I can condone the unionizing of any security agency.


“We’re going on strike, screw the lives or itineraries of the public, we want more lucre!”

“I don’t care if you’re short handed, my union contract says that I don’t have to work any overtime if I don’t want to!”

“My union contract says that I get two twenty minute coffee breaks every day, and if I take ten minutes to guard that door, I’ll only get half my break! I’m not guarding that door, I don’t care if you can’t get anyone else to do it!”

“I’m real sorry you’re short-handed, boss, but I’m taking a personal day. I promised to take my kid to the zoo.”

“You can’t fire me, buddy, I’m union all the way!”

Sorry, but those entrusted with the safety and security of others, by nature of the responsibilities involved, must be prepared to make sacrifices unasked of those in other lines of endeavor; sacrifices of personal time, personal convenience and, as often as not, personal fortune. If you’re not prepared to assume these sacrifices and such other elements as taking personal risks to protect the lives and the safety of others, you do not belong in the security business.

Unionizing TSA would drive a wedge between the objectives of such an agency and the efficiency necessary to realize them.

Based on the above, Senator Jim DeMint was correct in putting a hold on Southers’ confirmation. Given the virtual ownership of the Democrat majority by the unions, a suggestion by a head of the TSA that his or her agency be unionized would be all it took to see greedy, corrupt union czars authorized to “bargain collectively” with the very lives of the traveling public.

Civilian or not, a security department or agency has to be run more like a military venue than a Teamster’s operation. Imagine all of the firemen, EMTs and surgeons simply walking off the job in the middle of a natural disaster because they have a gripe with the institutions that employ them!

Unions have proven, time and again, to exploit the vulnerabilities of members’ employers by threatening strikes or actually going on strike when the employers have been at their most vulnerable.

Collective bargaining in the public sector is one of the factors behind governmental budget shortfalls and tax increases, and strikes, often tragically, can inconvenience and even endanger the majority of taxpayers to accommodate the greed of a very few. Again, it has no place in the safety and security sectors.

Then, there was the back issue of Errol Southers using the information access of his position to pursue inquiries into his ex’s new flame. To me, the only major problem with that is that he was less than truthful when asked about it.

Look, I’ll level with you here… Only a sanctimonious asshole can say with certainty that in a moment of desperation, he or she would definitely not use information access to which he or she is privileged (the exception being if it jeopardized national security or the integrity of the agency, firm or department in which he or she worked) to obtain information he or she felt he/she absolutely needed to possess.

Southers used such access to gain information relevant to a personal matter.

On the same token, any public servant has, without hesitation, got to tell the truth when under oath or otherwise asked about anything pertaining to his/her actions or those of others in the course of any official inquiry. That in itself is part and parcel in the scheme of things. When you serve the American people, you simply do not lie to them about such things — the people own the decision as to whether or not you are to be trusted in a given position and are entitled to all the facts that pertain to your character and to the details of any actions you have taken in the course of your service that are not officially classified as secret.

Errol Southers lied as a first instinct; There’s no way that anyone with even the most minimal intelligence could possibly believe otherwise. He “didn’t remember” that he himself had used his access to information directly, but rather had others seek private information on his behalf. If he had told the truth in the first place instead of having a “memory lapse”, I could easily find the wherewithal to overlook the underlying incident in light of his dedication and qualifications.

DeMint’s and others’ concerns were reality based, yet the left-wing (mainstream) media and the Democrats cried that blocking Southers’ appointment was based on “politics”.

Southers himself, on stepping down, said that he is “Nonpolitical” and was withdrawing because he believed his nomination and the subsequent ado presented a political lightning rod. On that score, I completely believe he is sincere.

It’s right that Southers did not end up in the job, even though, in my opinion, he was qualified from a professional standpoint.

Yeah, I did mention cynicism, that in my not being at all surprised that Erroll Southers had some “back trail”, as it were, if for no other reason than that he was selected by the Obama Administration: Barack Hussein did, after all, unabashedly bring the corrupt Chicago political machine with him to Washington, and in keeping with everything else he represents, he is forever hard put to produce key position nominees who do not have skeletons, problems with embracing veracity, or at least negative agendas of some kind.

In summation, politics has absolutely nothing to do with my opinion here. Had it not been for the lie and his perception that collective bargaining might have a place in a security organization, I would be, at the least, overjoyed to have a person with Erroll Southers’ knowledge, vision and experience at the helm of the Transportation Security Administration.

by @ 2:30 pm. Filed under Homeland Security, Security, TSA Concerns
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9 Responses to “A Couple of Colleagues Who Read This Blog…”

  1. NH Meri Wido Says:

    Seth, welcome back - your take on what’s happening has been missed. That said I need to send kudos on this latest blog entry, albeit the kudos need to be tempered with some food for thought. I pass on a comment made by one of the wisest men I’ve ever encountered. His name was “Pop” and when asked (way back in the 1960s) why unions were so important and why he was so supportive of them (being he was the owner and ‘Boss’ of his own company) he said (and I paraphrase)”as long as there are dishonest men who have no sense of morality, nor any concern for their fellow man, in charge of others there is a great need for unions. Seth, when I overlay that bit of wisdom over the Souther’s issue I am struck by the dire need for our security force to indeed be unionized in order to insure that the ‘fools’ (and I use that word very loosely) in Washington don’t try to disband the force that is created. What I think needs to happen is that E. Souther must craft a very specific ‘Mission Statement’ which includes exactly what its purpose is, how it will handle any and all infractions and craft it in such a way that the ‘fools’ cannot change it to curry favor with outsiders in order to garner votes. Personally I favor an idea which made the rounds of the internet about 2 years ago… We can solve the problems of Florida, Louisiana, and Ilegal Border Crossings at minimal cost…dig a deep trench along the US Mexican border….fill it with the excess rains that flood Louisiana, and fill it with the overabundance of alligators that plague Florida….all three problems solved at a reasonable cost to the beleaguerd tax payer.

  2. BB-Idaho Says:

    Alas, I cannot find hard numbers…but it appears that many police departments are unionized. Perhaps its just me, but they seem professional enough. But, IMO
    you and Reagan are correct; non union in the public sector would be much cheaper. Why heck, Seth, we could pick up some of that 11,000 Walmart just laid off. :)

  3. Seth Says:

    NH Meri Wido –

    The days when unions were benevolent institutions that had their members’ best interests at heart are pretty much gone; Today, most of them are run by corrupt, greedy people whose only interests are their personal fortunes. The more compensation they get for their members, the higher they can raise dues.

    I personally know someone who acquired a disability (a serious, disabling one, that required a couple of years of physical therapy and rehabilitation after a lengthy period of surgery and prosthetic installation to replace the insides of his knees) on the job as a city carpenter in a union. He had to fight tooth and nail for more than five years, going deeply into debt while paying a mortgage, raising four children, etc, in court to secure the benefits his contract promised, benefits for which he’d been faithfully paying his dues for a long time. Now, three or so years after everything’s been cleared up, he is still buried in debt.

    Today’s unions have fallen victim to unscrupulous leadership — liberal politicians’ most generous supporters, go figure — that simply cannot be trusted to give a rat’s hindquarters about anything but their own money and power.

    Then, an effective security operation only answers to one principal.

    Too, remember that a great many of the security officers at TSA formerly had the same jobs prior to the federalizing of airport security, and in a large number of cases were unskilled men and women of the type who work security only because on the level of the jobs they have, very little besides a clean police record is required. Many of these same folks, now with some minimal degree of training, have changed only in that they’re currently federal employees.

    Federal employees, that is, who really don’t have any interest in the Protection Industry beyond the fact that it supplies them with a pay check.

    Folks who might, given their skill levels, never see significantly comfortable incomes without the help of a union gouging the U.S. security establishment, therefore the tax payer, on their behalf.

    My point here is that there would be little or no resistance among the rank and file if a union told them to go on strike or to resist any “demands” made on them by their employers that the union “disagreed” with.


    BB –

    Right off hand, I can recall when, during a Mardi Gras in the late 1970s, the New Orleans Police Department went on strike. Seems they belonged to the Teamsters Union.

    The city had to cancel all the parades and call in both the state police and the local national guard to keep order, given the millions of tourists who crammed the streets for the festivities.

    The Teamsters representing NOPD attempted, during that time and luckily unsuccessfully, to convince the New Orleans Fire Department to go out on a sympathy strike.

    That’s one thing I can say, right off the top of my head, that can happen when a police department is unionized.


    Unions for government employees have been scamming the taxpayer for a long time. Government workers have “scads” more and better benefits and perks than most of their private sector counterparts, and the reason for this is the argument that they are paid so very poorly. This is bee ess of the highest order: The average government salary is considerably higher than its private sector equivalent.

  4. NH Meri Wido Says:

    Seth & BB….I thank you both for your further insight and now have to factor in your commentary to my own preconceived notion.

  5. Always On Watch Says:

    Why should any who work for the government be unionized? The very joining into a labor union takes about the public servant aspect, IMO.

  6. BB-Idaho Says:

    Well Seth, if you are right, perhaps you will join me in nominating a real expert, one who will resist unionization….Rush Limbaugh! :)

  7. Seth Says:

    NH Meri Wido –

    Truly, unionizing TSA or any other public sector security venue would be little different from unionizing the Armed Forces.

    I can just see it now, a unionized military under commander-in-chief Barack Hussein. We’d probably be invaded and colonized by Trinidad. :-(

    AOW –

    You’ve got that right.

    Since the government (Therefore the U.S. taxpayer) is only “the guy who signs the pay check” while the union is the party that decides how big the paycheck is, how much work, time and effortwise, an employee needs to do to earn said pay check and ultimately the perks and benefits as well, the entire concept that a federal employee works for and at the pleasure of the people becomes a lie.

    Allowing a union to decide upon or even influence such issues takes away the authority rightly vested in the people to determine the services for which we all pay and the costs thereof.

    It’s sad enough that those we elect to govern the country break the law and decide among themselves how much we have to pay them, their retirement and their benefits at those special late night sessions.

    BB –

    Rush is most effective exactly where he is in the scheme of things, reminding Americans and, more importantly, back-sliding or mainstream media brainwashed Americans, what this nation is supposed to be all about while pointing out the various degrees of deviation, hypocrisy, lies and outright treason that the liberal establishment and the politicians therein seem to revel in these days.

    What they need to do is find a security professional who is skeleton free, right thinking and, importantly, emotionally capable of functioning within the blame-America-first, unctuous leftist quagmire of the Obama disaster Administration and, equally putrid, the ineptitude of Napolitano’s confusion leadership. :-)

  8. BB-Idaho Says:

    ‘What they need to do is find a security professional who is skeleton free, right thinking and, importantly, emotionally capable of functioning within the blame-America-first, unctuous leftist quagmire of the Obama disaster Administration and, equally putrid,..”
    …uh, you or Chuck? :)

  9. Seth Says:

    BB –

    Me? I’d get fired in a heartbeat, because the minute I started the job, Obama bin Laden and Janet Napolitano would sense “an enemy in their midst” — that is, a patriotic American.

    Chuck would probably get the same treatment, though I doubt he’d be any more interested in working for the Osama Administration than I would.

    Now Wolf, on the other hand… Wolf would give them this look he has, and even with an army of Secret Service agents on hand, they would be too terrified for their own skins to do anything but extend him every iota of cooperation he demanded, even to paying for him to live on full comp at the Hay Adams. :-)