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Our View: Les incompetents

"I am Charlie."
"I am Charlie."
  • Longboat Key
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Much like the day of and after 9/11, the three-day Paris slaughtering by the Islamic Muslim terrorists leaves you stunned.

Disgusted. Angry. Wanting revenge.

So you show what solidarity and support you can.

But let’s not forget. We know it can happen here …in the United States … in Florida … in Sarasota-Manatee.

Remember: The 9/11 terrorists lived and trained in Venice and dined at the former Holiday Inn on Longboat Key.

+ Embarrassing us again
As noted in the photo at right, we all know who is missing.

From the New York Daily News last weekend:

“More than 40 heads of state came together in Paris to denounce a wave of terrorism that defiled the City of Light last week — yet there was one glaring exception: The U.S. sent only a low-level official (the ambassador to France).

“Obama and Biden had empty public schedules Sunday, but the White House declined to comment on why they didn’t go.

“The natural choice — Secretary of State Kerry, a Francophile who speaks the language — was in India for a longstanding engagement with the prime minister, White House officials said.”

Kerry said raising the issue about our leaders’ lack of attendance was “quibbling.”

Once again, humiliating us in front of our friends and allies.

Les incompetents.

+ What is the strategy?
Citizens in France and elsewhere and heads of state from around the world (see photo, right) have shown their unity in response to last week’s terror attacks in Paris. But when you look at the larger picture, you wonder:

What is the world’s plan?

How do you compute 40 heads of state walking arm in arm in Paris after 17 deaths, and yet, what has the world done in response to the massacres in Nigeria and Syria? Consider the statistics:

• 17 slaughtered last week.

• 2,000 mostly women, children and elderly massacred last week by Boko Haram;
• 600 massacred in March 2014;
• 200 school girls kidnapped in April 2014.
• 1.5 million Nigerians displaced from their homes.

According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights …
• As of November 2014, 197,387 people have died in the Syrian civil war.
• 62,347 civilians (6,468 women).
• Non-civilians: 34,060 rebel fighters; 21,343 non-Syrian jihadis; 43,396 regime forces; 2,381 de-facto regime forces; 28,198 militias allied to the regime.
• At least 80,000 more deaths are estimated, mostly of fighters.
• More than 3 million Syrians have fled to Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan and Iraq;
• 6.5 million are internally displaced within Syria.

Coalition response
The observatory reported in November the following casualties since the start of the U.S.-led coalition airstrikes against ISIS in Syria:

• 904 killed; 52 of them civilians, including eight children and five women. Of the non-civilians killed, 72 are from the Nusra Front; 779 from ISIS.

While President Obama’s talking heads at the State Department and at the White House’s daily briefings tout that his administration has “taken out” more Islamic terrorists via drone strikes “than any previous administration,” they give little evidence or comfort that anyone in command has a definitive strategy to obliterate the Islamic terrorists.

+ Life or death on LBK?
As reported in our “Issues to Watch in 2015” edition Jan. 8, Longboat Key town officials are perplexed over what can be called a life-or-death situation. It’s nowhere close to the level of terrorism, but it’s important nonetheless to the residents of Longboat Key: 911 dispatch calls.

Earlier this week, we received the following letter:

“Last year, I was attending a tennis tournament at Cedars when a player had a heart attack on the court.
“I used my cell phone to call 911, and the call was routed to Sarasota. While fortunately the victim survived, the outcome could have easily been different because of the difficulty in communicating with the Sarasota dispatcher.

“It refused to accept the ‘main court’ at Cedars as an address and was not willing to alert the local response team until it had an address it deemed acceptable.

“As I went scrambling to find the address, which was surprisingly difficult to do, I was no longer able to stay next to the victim to communicate details regarding his condition. The response was severely delayed by the dispatcher’s lack of familiarity with Longboat Key.

“In any community, but especially in a community with a large transient population, dispatchers with first-hand familiarity with the area and local landmarks are essential to public safety.

“The salaries of local 911 dispatchers with detailed knowledge of the area are a small price to pay for the ability to respond quickly and appropriately in time of emergency!

Rebecca McPheters
Longboat Key

This remains a tough dilemma, and one that illustrates that famous truism from noted economist Thomas Sowell: There are no solutions, only choices.

This much is assured: The cost of 911 services for Longboat Key are going to rise. Manatee County, which currently handles the Key’s fire-rescue calls, is investing in more sophisticated technology, which will bring higher costs. And Sarasota County has offered to consolidate the Key’s police and fire-rescue 911 calls at an undetermined price — also presumed to be higher than what the town is paying now.

The ultimate price is likely to hinge on the level of service acceptable to Longboat Key residents.

As Town Manager David Bullock cast the choice: With either county’s 911 dispatch services, the town will have access to sophisticated, and in all likelihood technically reliable services. But what it won’t have are the 911 operators who know the Key.

If history is a guide and predictor, Longboat Key officials and residents place a premium on safety. Rebecca McPheters’ letter above makes the case.