It’s always interesting when stalwart Republicans like Montana Senator Conrad Burns try to point out the wasteful spending for government work. Saturday, the targets of his comments were the 20 or so “Hot Shot” Virginia firefighters from Augusta County who had been fighting fires in Billings, Montana. After days in the state earning $8 to $12 an hour for work that has a high hazard component to it :idea:, the crew was sitting in the lounge of a Montana airport waiting for their flight home.
According to the Hampton Roads Daily Press, the senator approached the group, cussed them out and claimed “You probably paid that guy $10,000 to sit around [and do nothing]. “
Gee, senator, tell us what you really think. Are we dealing with a new version of the Medicaid Queens? Were the firefighting tactics that the Montana ranchers complained to you about from a state agency, or were they Federal ? And how many hours have you personally spent on any of this in your TAX PAID job? How many hours on Terry Schiavo, the marriage amendment, or flag burning? Would you do that job for $12 an hour (IF you qualified)?
Ok, so he apologized. The ‘prepared’ statement was tepid to say the best. No offers to go to anger management or even admit that he needs it. Certainly no offers to meet with the firefighters personally to better understand them and what a phenomenal job they are willing to do – anywhere in the country, any time. Including New York City in September, 2001.
Update: The Missoulian has more on this. The best news is that:
“the scandal-plagued senator had further harmed his campaign for re-election to a fourth term in November….
Burns is in the midst of the toughest fight of his political life. It won’t be surprising if this incident proves to be the self-inflicted knockout blow.”
To the Augusta County firefighters (and all the others). Living in Colorado, I am all too familiar with firefighting and visiting crews. Being a nurse and knowing ‘a bit’ about environmental hazards, the risks you take are also well known. An avid outdoors enthusiast, I am personally bound to the many areas of the country that have had or are at risk for fires. My sincere appreciation for your commitment and hard work runs deep.
Take care, be safe.