An Update on Bedwetter Nation

It appears now that the real issue for the New Haven officials is money:

The cost of the public safety response to Thursday’s “white powder” scare that closed the Ikea store on Sargent Drive for four hours was more than $50,000, a city spokeswoman said Monday.

The incident drew dozens of New Haven and state police officers, firefighters, health department workers, FBI agents and other personnel from New Haven and neighboring communities, as well as special equipment from the U.S. Postal Service’s Wallingford processing center, which authorities say is the only place in the state that has such equipment.

It prompted the evacuation of Ikea at about 5 p.m. and kept it closed until the next morning — but the “white powder” turned out to be flour used to mark a running trail by local members of the international Hash House Harriers running club.

The group holds runs with similar trails all over the world, including New York City, Washington, D.C., and Baghdad.

“There’s not an exact number yet” for the total cost of the response “but we’re looking at upwards of $50,000,” said Jessica Mayorga, spokeswoman for the Police Department and Mayor John DeStefano Jr.

On Friday, Mayorga said officials were inclined to seek restitution from the two “hashers” who were charged with a felony in the case. She said after a meeting Monday on the case that no determination was made on whether to seek restitution.

The article goes on to point out that the felony the two are charged with requires someone to intentionally place something hazardous in a public place, and since this is clearly not the case, it is hard to conclude anything other than that the two were charged with felonies to help shake them down for cash to “recoup” the losses of the government.

It is disgusting. Taxpayers fund the government, fund all of these activities and officials, and then, when they misuse them, they charge folks with a felony to try to get more money. The mafia has more shame.

And the pigheadedness continues in earnest:

Chief of Police Francisco Ortiz Jr., in a statement relayed through Mayorga, said, “We stand by the fact that we did the right thing.” He added, “We have an obligation to look out for the best interests of the people of New Haven and therefore we won’t take situations like this lightly.”

Translation- we will feel free to overreact in the future and have not learned a damned thing from this episode.

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40 replies
  1. 1
    lou says:

    I guess this means people shouldn’t be absent-minded and forget their backpack or shopping bag in a train station or airport terminal or government building. ’cause if the bomb squad is called, well, then it’s obviously their fault for being so forgetful.

  2. 2
    Ned Raggett says:

    One of the many great bits in Terry Gilliam’s documentary about these last six years, Brazil, is how all those being imprisoned and tortured are charged for the expense. This seems like a logical follow-on.

  3. 3

    […] An Update on Bedwetter Nation […]

  4. 4
    Face says:

    The group holds runs with similar trails all over the world, including New York City, Washington, D.C., and Baghdad.

    WTF?
    Does Sunnis running from Shia bullets, bombs, and snipers count as a group run?

  5. 5
    gex says:

    So let me get this straight. We pay taxes for our public safety system, but this does not include response to a public safety situation? That costs extra?

  6. 6
    Ned Raggett says:

    It’s like a tip, gex.

  7. 7
    David says:

    I doubt the two hashers have the same deep pockets that Turner Broadcasting had for the Boston shake-down…

  8. 8
    aliceandbob says:

    guess this means people shouldn’t be absent-minded and forget their backpack or shopping bag in a train station or airport terminal or government building.

    You sound like you haven’t been to an airport for a while. Helpful Fact: The airport reserves the right to take your backpack/suitcase/shopping bag out onto the runway and shoot it if you forget it in a terminal.

  9. 9
    Punchy says:

    Translation- we will feel free to overreact in the future and have not learned a damned thing from this episode.

    Better translation–we realize we royally fucked up, but won’t dare admit it, lest we look like overzealous, batshit crazy fanatical bedwetters.

    What if this had been a genuine accident? If the flour had fallen out of a unzipped pocket? Baby powder dropped by a harried mother? Is that still worthy of 37 FBI agents, a hazmat team in bunny suits, and a felony charge?

  10. 10
    KCinDC says:

    Aliceandbob, the question is whether after they disrupt your bag they bill you for the privilege.

  11. 11
    John Cole says:

    Aliceandbob, the question is whether after they disrupt your bag they bill you for the privilege.

    And charge you with a felony for forgetting it.

  12. 12
    aliceandbob says:

    If the flour had fallen out of a unzipped pocket?

    0_o Your neighbor was willing to lend you the flour, but you should have brought your own cup.

  13. 13
    KCinDC says:

    I think if I ran a donut shop in New Haven I’d be discontinuing the powdered sugar variety immediately.

  14. 14
    qwerty42 says:

    long ago I used to participate in hash runs; they were fun and when I saw the mention of flour I wondered if this was one. So, the hysterics have taken over. Should we expect the “aqua teen hunger force” to strike soon (is it true that Boston blew up one of their own traffic counters after that fiasco?).

  15. 15
    Lupin says:

    The only thing we have to fear is flour itself.

  16. 16
    KCinDC says:

    I’m grateful that at least law enforcement in DC seems to be less prone to these overreactions (but maybe they’ll overreact tomorrow). And if they caught the idiot who left the package labeled “Department of Bombland Security” on the Metro, I’d be happy to see him charged and fined for it — but that’s because it was intentional.

  17. 17
    aliceandbob says:

    KCinDC, No, but unlike Ikea, airports have actual security people who deal with “potentially suspicious, but probably nothing” situations on a regular basis. I’m not saying that the New Haven response was anything other than ridiculous. I am saying that airports and trainstations can be just as ridiculous. They just don’t have to go to any extra expense to do so, so they don’t feel the need to press charges and sue and all that other shit to save face.

    As for the felony charges, I doubt they’ll stick. But does anyone else remember this?

    We should probably just pass a federal regulation against flour. It’s obviously for the terrorists.

  18. 18

    Madness pure and simple. I’m no Rambo, Clint Eastwood, Hulk Hogan or even Jane Fonda, but are we becoming a fucking nation of wimps? We have to recoil in fear of anything not “normal” to our everyday experiences?

    I live where we can expect daily bombings, kidnappings and much worse. Am I afraid? Ya bet your sweet as I’m not. That isn’t life. That’s perennial death.

    Test the fucking powder and then decide if any criminal charges are justified.

    And under no circumstances should the “terrorists” be punished.

  19. 19
    qwerty42 says:

    aha. here is more bedwetter news. I checked at Wonkette and found this about the
    traffic counter scare
    . From last March (geeze, shouldn’t the Boston PD have been getting ready for St Patrick’s Day or something?).

  20. 20
    Jake says:

    Has anyone been to New Haven recently? When I was last through there the last thing you had time to worry about was some damn flour on the ground. Or if you saw a pile of white powder you’d assume someone had dropped their coke shipment and get the fuck away before they came looking for it.

    New Haven needs a hash name and I think it should contain a slang word for cat.

    WTF? Does Sunnis running from Shia bullets, bombs, and snipers count as a group run?

    Heh. That would be the soldiers. Most of the hashers I know are in or have been in the military. Although organizing a few hashes among the civilians might calm everyone down.

  21. 21
    myiq2xu says:

    I hope nobody drops a Baby Ruth bar in the municipal swimming pool. they might have to evacuate the whole town.

  22. 22
    Zifnab says:

    Listen, you know what? I’m gonna kinda-sorta stick up for New Haven, in so far as if someone left a trail of white powder all over a parking lot, it would be nice for the police to investigate.

    In this particular case, the hashers clearly did not inform enough people of their actions. That was a clear and serious mistake on their part.

    However, if the police had done an actual investigation – cordoned off the area and tracked down the runners to confirm the report – rather than just calling in SWAT at the first sight of white, we’d be living in a saner world.

    Ultimately, however, I don’t see anything wrong against people playing it safe. If – by some freak chance – this had been an asshole with a sack full of anthrax who wanted to be cute, we’d all be applauding the New Haven police as heroes for acting so quickly and intelligently. But since we don’t know if its flour or anthrax just by looking at it, I can’t blame people for acting cautiously.

    All that said, once the police realized their error they should have apologized and dropped it. I don’t think anyone would have held the overreaction against them, if they’d left it at that.

  23. 23
    samdinista says:

    You know how the wingnuts keep screaming that “freedom isn’t free!”? Well, every time there is a case like this the victims should sue the city/county/state agency in question for an amount equal to that spent to date on the Iraq war. I would love to see these two sue the city of New Haven for infringing upon their freedom to assemble to the tune of half a trillion smackeroos.

  24. 24
    Dan S. says:

    a hazmat team in bunny suits

    Oh, that would be awesome. Odd, but awesome.

    Let a hundred bags of flour spill . . .

    (y’know, OT, I just looked up the original reference, which goes back to the Hundred Flowers Campaign in mid-1950s China, when for six weeks the CCP actually encouraged criticism and suchlike (possibly as a trap) and came across this bit:
    By the spring of 1957, Mao had announced that criticism was “preferred” and had begun to mount pressure on those who did not turn in healthy criticism on policy to the Central Government.
    Well, then.)

  25. 25
    pinche2 says:

    There is no way to win this game-it seems. ):

  26. 26

    However, if the police had done an actual investigation – cordoned off the area and tracked down the runners to confirm the report – rather than just calling in SWAT at the first sight of white, we’d be living in a saner world.

    Are you crazy!? What if this were real Anthrax! Or worse, white powdered form of purple ecstasy! They whole city would be DEAD. DEAD I TELL YA! DEAD!

    Do you want that happening to your daughter?

    What if you took your son into an airport restroom, and there were two guys having sex in a pile of white powder? Is that the kind of world you want to be living in!?

    This has to be stopped, and I’m GLAD that New Haven called SWAT on these guys. What better way to stop two guys with a bag of flour, than a twelve guys in Kevlar body armor pointing assault weapons.

    It’s just too bad that cities like New Haven can’t buy tanks, or nuclear weapons. Then we’d really see crime a lot lower than it is today!

  27. 27

    You know how the wingnuts keep screaming that “freedom isn’t free!”?

    I saw freedom bumper stickers at Wal-Mart for $1.99.

  28. 28

    There is no way to win this game-it seems. ):

    Sure you can. You just have to play tic-tac-toe with the terrorism fighting computer, until it overloads and gives up.

  29. 29
    ThymeZone says:

    There is only one remedy, and that is for everybody to start throwing bags of flour all over the fucking place.

    Wake up the idiots out there. Yoo hoo! You can’t protect anything or anybody from a real threat, but watch you jump into action over a fucking flour spill.

    A real “war on terror” would start with sensible and intelligent protection of assets and people against real terror threats. Overreacting to baking ingredients in a parking lot is just a sure indication that there is no actual sensible protection against anything.

    Fire the whole fucking police dept in Dumbasstown, aka New Haven, and start over. Judas fucking priest.

  30. 30
    Bcre8ve says:

    Eeryone should read Robin Cook’s ‘Vector’. It came out well before the anthrax incidents, and describes just how difficult it is to not only produce lethal anthrax, but how EXTREMELY difficult it is to get it into the air where people can inhale it.

    A pile of anthrax powder on the ground most likely wouldn’t make anyone sick, and the only reason that the anthrax after 9/11 harmed anyone was because it was military-grade. There is definitely more to that story than we’ve heard.

    I’m personally more afraid of getting e. coli tainted meat or botulism from all of the wonderful, clean foods that the FDA inspects than I am about getting hit with anthrax (and besides, anthrax just needs some antibiotics to clear it up).

    The math is easy on this one –

    Anthrax – 5 deaths since 2001

    Bad food – According to the CDC: “…foodborne diseases cause approximately 76 million illnesses, 325,000 hospitalizations, and 5,000 deaths in the United States each year.”

    People need to smarten up.

  31. 31
    whippoorwill says:

    WELCOME TO NEW HAVEN

    “BIRTHPLACE OF THE VILLAGE IDIOT”

  32. 32
    Jake says:

    My understanding of weaponized anthrax is limited but I think I’m correct in saying:

    1. It would take so long for a person working in his basement lab to get a cup of the ‘thrax that he’d be better off killing his intended victims via paper cuts.

    2. If you see a big pile of what you believe to be weaponized anthrax, your ass is already dead.

    Ah, why am I trying to be logical? New Haven PD is a bunch of cretins.

  33. 33
    Detlef says:

    Zifnab,

    Listen, you know what? I’m gonna kinda-sorta stick up for New Haven, in so far as if someone left a trail of white powder all over a parking lot, it would be nice for the police to investigate.

    Well, yes, maybe… :)
    However the police also should have thought about a few other things, mainly:
    1) According to the first MSNBC article, people watched and called the police while “someone was sprinkling powder on the ground.”
    Why didn´t one of the callers ask the “sprinklers” what was going on? Or ask one of the IKEA employees to investigate? You know, one of those brave Americans from Mars, not a European from Venus. :)
    Or a question for the police, if that had been really Anthrax, the two people sprinkling it would probably be dead now. Sprinkling it probably put a lot of particles in the air at that moment. Which leads to…
    2) Which self-respecting terrorist would sprinkle any kind of biological weapon on the ground in a parking lot? Sunlight (UV) probably isn´t good for it. Rain might dilute it. Not to mention that rain also would keep it out of the air. I mean, wouldn´t it be smarter to put it into the air-conditioning system of a shopping mall, convention center etc if someone really wanted to infect lots of people?
    But sprinkling in on the ground while being watched?

    Sorry, bed-wetting and hiding under the bed while wearing diapers seems to make more sense.
    And it seems you Americans took out a sub-prime ARM to live on Mars. :)

  34. 34

    Sorry, bed-wetting and hiding under the bed while wearing diapers seems to make more sense.

    I wonder if there is a country music song about that.

    I was getting kinda tired
    Of her endless chatter
    Nothing I could say
    Ever seemed to matter
    So I took a little drive
    Just to clear my head
    I saw a flashing neon, up ahead
    It looked like a place
    To find some satisfaction
    With a little less talk
    And a lot more diapers

    maybe?

  35. 35
    Dixie says:

    The fellow is an opthamalogist who moved to the US from Germany two months ago. I hate to think how many other bedwetting “Welcome to America” moments like this have gone under the radar.

    *headdesk*

  36. 36
    M. Bouffant says:

    When agencies like these rack up the “costs” for their own stupidity, they always include the salaries of the people involved, as if they wouldn’t have been paid otherwise. You know, the “So & so” trial cost the county/state/federal gummint $X million. Well, the courthouse personnel, judges, DAs, maintenance fees, etc., would have been paid no matter who was on trial. Same here, except for gas/diesel fuel that might not have been used if it weren’t for the over-reaction. And maybe some overtime. I doubt the actual specific costs were anywhere near $50,000.00.

  37. 37
    Crissa says:

    If it were traces of cesium or anthrax or… Heck, I dunno, but none of those things would’ve hurt anyone being little piles on the ground.

    I guess we’re just lucky they didn’t use LIME. That stuff is actually toxic if you ingest it.

    I suppose none of these guys knows that Anthrax grows on the ground normally, right?

  38. 38
    TenguPhule says:

    WELCOME TO NEW HAVEN. We have your Village Idiots, please come and take them back!

    Improved.

  39. 39
    Keifus says:

    Yeah, this version is a lot heavier on the spectacle, but anyone who’s gotten a sketchy month’s-end speeding ticket is already aware how police departments are already in the habit of pulling extra-tax income out of the citizenery. I guess it costs more when they’re made to look stupid.

    And yeah, the Brazil comparison was perfect.

  40. 40
    BigBen says:

    Only one thing to say then.

    ON-ON

    Did the two hashers not just get a down down for leading the trail to Ikea, that usually does the trick

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