After 25 years of reporting for the Sentry-Enterprise, I really don’t expect to run into many things that I haven’t seen before.
That happened, however, at Monday night’s regularly scheduled School Board meeting.
It was the premiere of the new conference room, formerly used as the Distance Learning Lab.
I walked into the room just about right on time and saw the Hillsboro School Board preparing to begin their meeting …and nobody else! The visitor section was totally empty. There were about 14 empty chairs desperately waiting for someone to sit down in them.
A usual meeting draws about a dozen interested spectators and members of the local media. This one didn’t even merit a TV camera.
One of the Board members broke the awkward scene by laughing and asking, “Didn’t you get the memo?”
I sat in the middle of two rows of empty chairs and thought, “Maybe nobody else signed up for a distance learning class,” figuring several friendly rivals would show up any minute.
They never did!
I asked Superintendent Curt Bisarek if there was a chance that a group of visitors were sitting and waiting in the library.
“Not a chance,” he replied. “The library is dark and locked.”
A friendly Board member across the room pointed out the bright side by stating that at least I’ll have a sure “scoop” in the next newspaper.
At the end of the meeting, it became apparent that a short closed session would be helpful, but it wasn’t voted on or been scheduled on the agenda.
All eyes suddenly were on their lone visitor. “Don’t look at me, I’m not planning on going anywhere,” I said.
Then, as I put my jacket on, I told them that I had a nice time at the party and thanked them for inviting me.
I know when I’m not wanted!
We recently received a long-distance phone call from someone who was vacationing in Mexico. She and her husband were having a wonderful time with another couple enjoying some liquid refreshment next to a beautiful pool on the ocean.
Meanwhile, U.S. Marine Sgt. Andrew Tahmooressi is nearing half a year locked up in a small cell in Mexico, as a result of making a wrong turn and driving into that country with registered firearms that are perfectly legal in the U.S.
To make it even worse, the 26-year-old veteran of two tours in Afghanistan is fighting PTSD, a result of an IED explosion. He can’t even see a doctor.
More than 100,000 strangers have signed a petition on his behalf for freedom and many TV news anchors are keeping his story alive in the news to no avail.
Mexico is a country that practically offers road maps of safe U.S. border crossings to creeps representing the many drug cartels that are made millionaires by druggies.
As if that isn’t enough, our Congress gives Mexico millions and millions of dollars in foreign aid. For what? Their neighborliness?
That Marine can’t catch a break from the country who is jailing him or the country he defended. But many are praying for him. And they aren’t planning on spending a dime in the country that imprisoned him.
EDITOR'S NOTE: The "many TV news anchors" keeping Tahmooressi's story alive appear on Fox News, which is using the story to criticize the Obama administration for what it considers an inadequate response. As senior researcher Zachary Pleat of Media Matters for America wrote June 5 on mediamatters.org:
Fox News provided ample coverage of two separate instances of U.S. Marines imprisoned in Mexico on gun charges, using the stories to criticize the Obama administration for what was deemed an inadequate response to each situation. But Fox paid no attention to a nearly identical case of a jailed U.S. soldier that occurred during the Bush administration.
On March 31, Marine Sgt. Andrew Tahmooressi was arrested after he claimed he accidentally crossed into Mexico with personal firearms in his car, and has been held in a Mexican prison on weapons charges since that time.
Fox News heavily covered the story. A Nexis search of the network's evening programming showed that since March 31, there have been at least 31 segments about Tahmooressi's detainment, including phone interviews with Tahmooressi, his mother, and his friends. Fox host Greta Van Susteren demanded President Obama take action to free the Marine on the May 20 edition of Fox's On the Record. Later on the show, Fox contributor Allen West bashed Obama and Secretary of State Kerry as "neutered pajama-boy leaders."
More recently, Fox ramped up its criticism of the purported lack of action to more absurd levels, conducting polling asking whether the border with Mexico should be closed until Tahmooressi is returned, and one Fox host going so far as to suggest that an exchange of "five jailed illegal immigrants" with Mexico for his return, a reference to the release of Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl from Taliban captivity after several years.
And in 2012, after U.S. Marine Jon Hammar was arrested in Mexico for carrying an antique shotgun across the border, Fox devoted at least 35 evening programming segments to Hammar, according to Nexis, often similarly complaining about the Obama administration response.
But when Spc. Richard Torres was arrested after crossing into Mexico in a similar alleged accident in mid-2008, Fox News' evening shows voiced no such criticism over the failure of the Bush administration to act quickly to secure his release. In fact, a search of Nexis shows that they never covered the story at all, an omission that cannot be explained away by differences in the cases, as the circumstances of are remarkably similar. …
Torres ultimately spent a little more than a month in jail before he was released.