The post-Santiago fire "blame Measure D opponents" myth-making continues apace. The leading blogosphere propagandist for this effort is Robert Cruikshank -- "Robert from Monterey -- and he resumes his attempt (commenced in October) to pin blame for the Santiago fire on pernicious "anti-government, anti-union" elements in Orange County with this November 1 offering on Daily Kos under his dKos nom-du-blog "eugene" (and re-posted on Calitics and California Progress Report).
In Robert's world, Measure D -- -- was defeated by "anti-government ideology."
Those of us who lived in Orange County during the battle over Measure D -- the measure offered by the OCPFA to increase the OC Fire Authority's share of Prop. 172 sales tax revenues -- know is was more than anything a fight between OCPFA and the rest of the local government unions, led by the Association of Orange County Deputy Sheriffs and the Orange County Employees Association.
Other than an a brief reference to an over-the-top analogy by Steve Greenhut, Cruikshank gingerly tip-toes around that reality. The way he misrepresents the Measure D campaign is akin to saying the Crimean War was between the Russian Empire and the Kingdom of Sardinia.
Robert helpfully explains the well-spring of his "analysis" on this comment appended to his original propaganda salvo:
It just goes to show the importance of fighting not just anti-tax sentiment, but any attack on government, public services, public workers, and unions.
Now, if Robert were trying to present an honest analysis, he'd direct his j'accuse directly at the government union coalition that defeated Measure D. If it weren't for the AOCDS and OCEA's money and efforts, Measure D would have passed. But since Cruikshank can't fit that round peg into the square hole of his above-referenced exegetical framework, he simply ignores it.
Cruikshank's ideological spin is a compounded by a bad case of post hoc, ergo propter hoc: because the Santiago fire occurred after Measure D's defeat, therefore it's longevity was caused by Measure D's defeat. This malady has also spread to the outer fringes of the OC blogosphere.
If Cruikshank and others weren't obsessed with trying to use the Santiago fire to tar their enemies, they would look to circumstances rather than Measure D's defeat to an explanation of why the Santiago fire wasn't contained sooner. The fact that the Malibu fire started before the Santiago fire is a big reason.
According to the Los Angeles Times article which the "If it wasn't for Measure D's defeat" crowd points to as holy writ:
Making matters harder for Orange County last Sunday, the department had dispatched some crews to other fires in Los Angeles County. Orange County immediately sent 15 engine companies -- a typical response under the state's network of mutual aid agreements.
Prather said that left the Fire Authority with 15 more engine companies than usual, in addition to help from other departments if things got bad in Orange County. He thought that would be enough.
The Santiago fire broke out 13 hours later. By then, the 11 city fire departments in Orange County had also dispatched substantial forces to Malibu. That deprived Prather of the backup he would normally have relied on.
"Sometimes, agencies can overcommit," said Anaheim Fire Chief Roger Smith. "But there is no one that you will find in California who would hold back resources because they didn't want to send it."
It wasn't Measure D's defeat, but a situation in which he Southland was fighting several major fires at the same time -- fires fueled by especially virulent Santa Ana winds in a drought situation. It's unrealistic and unnecessary to expect each Southland county to be prepared to to single-handedly face such a worst-case scenario. That's why we have reciprocal agreements between firefighting agencies.
One can play the what if game forever. What if the Santiago fire had started before the Malibu fire? What if the state had purchased and acquired at least a portion of the 150 additional fire engines recommended in 2003 by the Governor's blue ribbon commission?
Alternatively, what if the OC Fire Authority hadn't spent $60 million on a massive new headquarters, but had directed at least a portion of that to additional firefighting equipment? What if the volunteer firefighter programs hadn't been decimated?
The defeat of Measure D didn't ignite the Santiago fire, nor did it cause it to break out after two dozen engine companies had already been sent to Malibu. The defeat of Measure D didn't cause the drought or the exceptionally strong Santa Ana winds.
The aftermath of a major fire is a good time to assess performance and resource needs. But to blame "anti-government, anti-union" ideology for the spread of the Santiago fire is cheap and dishonest.