In the celebrated annals of Arizona wingnuttery, State Senator Sylvia Allen doesn't often share the national limelight with the likes of Sheriff Joe Arpaio and Governor Jan Brewer, but she does occupy a permanent seat among the looniest fundies at the legislature. It was Allen, you may recall, who declared, during a natural resources committee hearing no less, that the earth has lasted for 6,000 years without any crazy environmental laws, so why do we need them now?
This being Arizona, you probably won't be surprised to learn that the tea-bagging birther Sylvia Allen serves on the Education Committee. Heaven help us. Senator Allen is also chair of the Border Security, Federalism and States' Sovereignty Committee (only in Arizona), and now she's back with SB 1803, which establishes an armed militia to patrol the border:
AN ARMED FORCE, KNOWN AS THE ARIZONA STATE GUARD, IS ESTABLISHED FOR THE PURPOSE OF SECURING THE SAFETY AND PROTECTION OF THE LIVES AND PROPERTY OF THE CITIZENS OF THIS STATE.
From an annual appropriation of nearly $2 million, the armed "Arizona Guard" members will receive $100 per day for their services, which Allen's bill calls a "supplement" to the work of the Arizona National Guard -- you know, the trained men and women who can be called up at any time by the Governor in case of an emergency along the border. Sheesh, even border alarmist Jan Brewer has never felt the need to do that.
Senator Allen's "Arizona Guard"
volunteers vigilantes will have the authority to detain or arrest suspects, and they will be empowered to seize property and then share in the profits realized from the confiscation. No incentive there at all. And if the boys in camouflage make some dumb-fuck mistake, like kill the wrong people, don't worry: they're covered by an immunity clause for most crimes.
Oh, this is going to work out just dandy. Let's give a badge to J.T. Ready (who, by the way, is running for Pinal County Sheriff).
On Thursday, the current Adjunct General of the Arizona National Guard tried to tell Senator Allen and her wingnut committee members that he's concerned about the lack of training and liability implicit in her screwball idea, for starters, but Allen is convinced she knows better.
That's right, Major General Hugo E. Salazar appeared before Allen's committee to express his reservations. To begin, he said, he was not consulted during the drafting of the bill -- a minor oops, since he'd be responsible for the new "Arizona Guard." Nor was he even called to testify, writes Stephen Lemons in New Times:
Under the Arizona Constitution, Salazar is the commander of all state military forces and answers directly to the governor, and he would, in theory, bear responsibility for this new force as well. So you would think Allen would be eager to hear what the general had to say.
She wasn't. In fact, her face visibly dropped when Salazar approached the lectern before the committee, and explained that he had seen that the bill was on the day's agenda, so he decided to be present so he could make his concerns known. New Times
Allen insisted that her new unit is no different from the state guards in 23 other commonwealths, but General Salazar pointed out one small difference: they are not armed.
"There are a lot of things that would have to occur before I would be comfortable putting a weapon in a volunteer's hand," Salazar said. New Times
But Sylvia Allen, who is a real estate agent from the White Mountains in northern Arizona, knows more about security than a nearly 30-year military officer who commanded soldiers in Iraq:
Allen was soon interrupting him, asking the general pointedly, "How do we fight a war without weapons?...How do we fight a war without guns?"
The Major General tried to explain the difference between a war and an enforcement issue, but Allen and her lunatic cronies, including Senator Steve Smith, the asshat who created a state fund to accept donations for a border fence, explained to the combat veteran that their plan is wiser.
They also had to account for the county sheriffs along the border, who are likewise opposed to SB 1803. One reason, no doubt, is that border arrests are down 40 percent from last year. Even though Allen, Arpaio, Brewer, and other nativists continue to bellyache about Obama "not securing the border," he's done a shit load more than his predecessor, but you didn't hear Headless Bodies Brewer and the others whining then. Senator Allen said pooh -- the county sheriffs' opposition is a money issue:
One other grown up on the committee, state Senator Jerry Lewis, said he'd called around to various border sheriffs and found them to be against the proposal. Also, why weren't there some sheriffs present to testify, didn't the committee want to hear what they had to say, since supposedly they would be working with Allen's militia?
Allen dismissed the notion. She seemed to already know what they'd say: These sheriffs would want the money she's allocating for her new brigade...
Senator Allen's crew also dismissed the concerns of another law officer. Lyle Mann, director of the Arizona Peace Officer Standards and Training Board (POST), said if volunteers are armed with the authority to arrest, they should be POST certified, a training that requires more than four months. Realtor Allen's bill allows for one day per month of training, not to exceed five days per year.
Major Generals, county sheriffs, police instructors -- indeed, why listen to the experts?
The bill passed out of committee and is now headed to the Senate. If signed into law, what could possibly go wrong? Heck, White Supremacists, militiamen, and other goon-balls are already patrolling the border. Now they can get a badge, a salary, and immunity!