Mitt Romney's claim that there are too many firefighters might sound awesome to crazy conservatives, but to the residents of Colorado and New Mexico, it might sound like he doesn't really care if their homes burn down.
Via 9News.com in Colorado:
The High Park Fire is now at 36,930 acres and growing significantly, with zero percent containment. Larimer County says 400 personnel are fighting the blaze. Monday afternoon, officials said at least 100 structures have been damaged or destroyed by the fire.
According to Larimer County, flames lept 15 to 20 feet in the air, with some flames shooting 300 feet into the sky. Very dry brush, timber and grasses are providing the fuel for this fire.
What Larimer County is calling a "very aggressive" and "hard to fight" fire is growing at 20 to 40 feet a minute.
Larimer County officials say the lower temperatures, higher humidity levels and lower winds should help fire personnel to fight the fire. A number of air resources are battling the blaze, including five heavy-air tankers, five single-engine tankers and a few helicopters. Larimer County says two National Guard Blackhawks have been ordered, but only one is currently on the scene.
Larimer County says they are hoping at least 100 more personnel will join the fight by Monday night.
And in New Mexico, Governor Susana Martinez was ordering National Guard troops in to assist with fighting fires. Via Times-Union.com:
New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez announced late Sunday that she was ordering an additional 100 National Guard troops to assist with evacuations. They will be dispatched to shelters or highways where people have to be turned back, Ruidoso spokeswoman Kerry Gladden said.
Military helicopters were also deployed to drop water at both fires in addition to air tankers dropping slurry.
Dan Ware, a spokesman for the New Mexico State Forestry Division, said the number of Ruidoso evacuees was in the hundreds, but he didn't have an exact figure. The nearby community of Capitan and others also could face evacuation, said Karen Takai, a spokeswoman for the Ruidoso fire crews.
The people of Colorado and New Mexico are losing their homes, their businesses, and their livelihood while they wait for National Guardsmen, and in Larimer County's case, 100 firefighters from outside their area to join the fight before these fires blow right through their entire state. This, while Mitt Romney claims the "message of Wisconsin" was people want fewer firefighters, police and teachers. Here. Watch it.
[h/t David at VideoCafe]
I somehow doubt those people who have already lost homes and property in these fires feel that way. I would like for Mitt Romney to make these comments while he stands in front of their burnt-out, smoldering homes that once held memories and safety for them.
What they may not realize is that Mitt Romney has a long-standing crusade against firefighters. Salon reports:
In 2004, when the city of Springfield was facing bankruptcy, Romney proposed a $52 million bailout package that included suspending collective bargaining and civil service benefits for the city’s unions, including public safety officers. “He hates us,” Robert McCarthy, the president of the Professional Fire Fighters of Massachusetts, told the Associated Press at the time. “Unions are what made this state what it is,” he said, but Romney “won’t even talk to us.” Romney spokesperson Nicole St. Peter defended the suspension of union benefits, telling the AP that the “control board” the governor appointed to oversee the city’s finances “needs maximum flexibility to restore Springfield’s financial footing.” The Democratic-controlled state legislature eventually overrode Romney and preserved the bargaining rights, though the control board remained controversial in the city.
It’s worth noting that stripping the union rights of firefighters was farther than Wisconsin Governor Walker was willing to go — he exempted public safety workers from his reforms. But when Walker’s fellow Republican Governor John Kasich of Ohio went after police and firefighters’ union rights, he was rebuffed by voters in a referendum last year.
Go ahead, Mitt. I dare ya. Do it again. Do it on a national basis. Tell Californians who know how fast a fire can obliterate entire communities that we need fewer firefighters so we can save a few pennies in taxes. Tell all of us how we should despise men and women who put their lives on the line every single day to keep our communities safe and out of harm's way, whether by fire or crime. Tell us. I double-dog dare ya.