More than six months after the first of four endangered Mexican gray wolves was illegally shot in eastern Arizona, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's criminal investigation appears to be going nowhere. Which is no surprise, considering the Keystone Kop tactics employed by the agency.
In December, FWS investigators sent an inflammatory questionnaire to more than 240 people who were licensed to hunt elk in the vicinity of the wolf shooting. The cover letter did little to dispel the notion sweeping the mountains along the Arizona-New Mexico border that the feds have declared war on rural folks who live off the land.
"Your completion of this questionnaire should preclude United States Fish and Wildlife Service Special Agents from meeting with you in person," the letter states, instructing recipients to "please write your answers as detailed as you can to enable us to understand your side." Your side?
Hunters were told that if they made a mistake, they were not to erase or change it but "put the mistaken sentences within parentheses and continue on. . . . Your correction will be taken into consideration."
On to the paper interrogation, which seemed a sure bet to trip up even the most ingenius and diabolical poacher:
We have reached the determination that a Mexican Gray Wolf was found dead from a gunshot wound near Unit 15A (Luna, NM) during the time that you were hunting (in) November 1998. How would you explain this? . . .
If you were going to conduct this investigation, how would you do it?
List the 5 most important causes that could have created this situation.
Would you like to change any of the information you have provided?
Write in detail about your hunting trip in Unit 15A beginning from the time you left home until you returned during November 1998.
Before you answer the following questions we would like to inform you that each word of your answers will be evaluated. We would like you to take your time and think before you answer.
1) Do you know who shot the wolf?
2) Did you shoot the wolf?
3) Did you take part in shooting the wolf?
The questionnaire was followed by a few debriefing queries:
1) How do you feel now that you have completed this form?
2) Should we believe your answer to the questions?
3) If your answer to the last question was yes, give us one reason why.
4) What would you say if it was later determined that the answers on this form are not the truth?
5) What were your emotions while filling out this form?
6) Did you feel afraid while completing this form?
7) Did you ever discuss the possibility and reasons for the shooting of the wolf? If yes, with whom?
8) If you were asked to pay for the wolf, how much would you pay?
The Flash is no shrink, but this Pulsating Strobe believes that some questions were intended to elicit responses that would help investigators produce psychological profiles of the respondents.
Predictably, the questionnaire outraged hunters and evoked angry responses. "I hope that you would make a public statement telling hunters to disregard the survey," Republican U.S. Senator Pete Dominici wrote in a letter to Secretary of the Interior Bruce Babbitt, who acceded to Dominici's wishes. FWS apologized in a follow-up letter to the hunters: "We regret that the survey's language was viewed as accusatory and confrontational. If you choose not to complete the survey, you may disregard it."
Ruben & Ladmo
They strike each month in secrecy, and so far they haven't been found out. Latino media and political types are buzzing about the unnamed perpetrators at Ladmo Park, cyber-Chicano activists who have adopted the Maryvale park as their moniker. Their electronic newsletter critiquing the Latino political landscape has quickly become a must-read among Mexican-American power brokers and their observers.
The Flash communicated with a Ladmo Park ringleader who refuses to give his name and who says that the upstart organization has "more than one, less than a thousand" participants.
"I think we have an important job. We can get away with a lot more than you guys can," says the mysterious e-mailer.
Ladmo Park newsletters critique coverage of Latino issues by the media, report statistics about the local Latino population, and celebrate a Chicano of the month (the most recent recipient: attorney Stephen Montoya, who helped plaintiffs win a $400,000 settlement with the city of Chandler over police involvement in an INS operation).
In particular, the Ladmo Park activists often target Arizona Republic columnist Ruben Navarrette Jr., who they see as a menace. "He's detrimental to our community. It's really easy for people outside our community to think he represents us. He justifies their arguments for them," says the LP jefe.
The activists don't like the way Navarrette (who once served as a paid consultant to California millionaire Ron Unz working to end bilingual education in that state) has whipped up fervor against bilingual education in Arizona through several articles, columns and editorials in the Republic.
Despite the attacks on him, Navarrette has been a good sport, and recently sent Ladmo Park one of his columns with a friendly note. It opens with the salutation, "Amigos."
"That's cute," says the Ladmo Park leader.
A month ago, Ladmo Park asked readers to submit suggestions for a nickname for Navarrette, and in the most recent issue revealed their choice: El Hueso, or "the bone."
"What do you think it means?" asked the Ladmo Park spokesoperative, who then confirmed that the moniker carried an anatomical theme. "We're hoping we can find a condom small enough to protect us from the disease he's spreading."
The following report appeared in a recent edition of the Sonoran News, a weekly serving Cave Creek, Carefree and environs:
Fifty women and men gathered Thursday night, Jan. 28, at the Legend Trail Community Center for cake, cookies and the low-down on the Hollywood Left/Liberal establishment and its influence on American political thought.
Guest speaker was Jim Belcher, a Cave Creek resident who has spent 35 years in New York and Hollywood as a film and television writer/producer. "I not only had a problem in Hollywood because I was a political conservative--I was also a Christian, straight and too tall," said Belcher, referring to the diminutive stature of most producers.
The audience, including local politicos David Burnell Smith, Frances Emma Barwood and Arizona Republican Assembly District 28 President Mike Morano, listened intently as Belcher related stories of his life as a conservative, including time as a New York precinct worker for Barry Goldwater in 1964; chauffeuring a defected KGB Colonel around to make speeches to various conservative groups; writing a movie about the Vietnam war aboard an aircraft carrier--a story that was rejected by Hollywood because it portrayed U.S. servicemen in a favorable light. Belcher also related stories of his nine years as a TV comedy writer with the Norman Lear organization and the strong Liberal/Socialist undertones of shows like "All in the Family," "Maude" and "M*A*S*H."
The audience squirmed in their seats when Belcher used past and recent events both politically and militarily, posing the potential of an American military coup sometime in the near future. "Americans are becoming disillusioned with democracy," he said. "This Clinton matter has become a constitutional crisis. The only government institution remaining in high esteem by the American people is the military. A coup could happen with the support of many citizens who believe we can no longer govern ourselves. In 1964, 62 percent of the American people voted--look at it today--less than 50 percent and dropping. The American military is being misused as deliverers of meals-on-wheels, border guards, drug interdictors and medical care providers for victims of natural disasters. Unlike the rest of government, our military has enjoyed a steady climb in popularity throughout the '80s and '90s, after their debilitating set-back during the Vietnam war--a set-back strongly assisted by an anti-military Liberal media and Hollywood Left."
Feed the Flash: voice, 229-8486; fax, 340-8806; online, [email protected]