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Here’s The Scoop … The Election’s Over ….It’s Time To Govern …

May 30, 2010 by Barbara


Dear Readers …longtime and Avid Readers know from past posts this writer from time to time posts articles found in Vanity Fair….While it’s been a while due to lack of travel .. ..with obligations stemming from the last LBTS local election …I have been catching up on past isues …In last month’s May issue was an article about General David Patraeus …I read it right after the Commission meeting on May 25th and the vote for the block party on North Tradewinds…In the first excerpts below it struck me …. the comparisons I found between the General seated in front of the Senate and the new Commission/Administration sitting in front of their new constituents …

A look at the excerpt on Patraeus titled “Done, Sir” which for this writer closely parallels the new Administration in place over the last 30+ days…

Please, for those of you who agree or disagree with Patraeus politically look beyond the Democrat/Republican thing and zone in on the exchanges excerpted below…

“The Professor of War”…Excerpts…(link to full story below)….

“Decked out in dress greens, his uniform so laden with insignia, badges, patches, ribbons, and medals that it seemed to pull him into a slight stoop, the Most Important General in America, David Howell Petraeus, arrived on Capitol Hill in September of 2007 bearing remarkable news.

Just back from Baghdad, the hot center of a four-year-long war that had come to be seen as a fiasco, Petraeus would testify that things had begun to improve—that the counter-insurgency strategy he had initiated eight months before was working, against all odds and expectations. Violent incidents had fallen off dramatically. Former Sunni insurgents had come around and begun to oppose al-Qaeda. Dangerous Shiite militias were putting down their arms. Instead of conceding futility and abandoning Iraq to chaos and civil war, there was a good chance the United States could stabilize the country enough to begin a relatively bloodless and honorable phased withdrawal.

The general brought, in short, unwelcome news, at least to many Democratic lawmakers.

When he arrived in the crowded hearing room, on the morning of September 10, only his immediate staff had read his planned testimony.
Shutters clicked and cameras flashed. The general seemed perfectly calm but was, in fact, uncomfortable. The stakes were enormous, the emotion was palpable, the scrutiny was intense. ….. He looks more like a bookworm than a warrior. Cheerful by nature, he is eager to please and eager to explain. Petraeus is a world-class explainer. …..

But no matter how well prepared he might be, there was little chance of dazzling this crowd. Before he had even opened his mouth he was under attack. Democrats had won a majority in Congress and were gearing up to ride anger and frustration over the Iraq war to the White House. The last thing they wanted to hear was that things were looking up—that President George W. Bush’s so-called surge was working. The advocacy group, anticipating that Petraeus would fail to signal retreat, had attacked him with a full-page ad in that day’s New York Times, labeling him “General Betray Us.” Before the first word of his presentation, Armed Services chairman Ike Skelton described the general’s efforts in Iraq as a failure. Foreign Affairs Committee chair Tom Lantos, a pink-faced Democrat from California with a perfectly coiffed white halo, squinted down at the general—again before seeing or hearing a word from him—and pronounced, “With all due respect to you, I must say, I don’t buy it.”

That was just the start. Petraeus would sit through two long days of hearings, first in the House, and the next day before the Senate heavyweights, including three Democratic presidential hopefuls vying with one another to appear the most fervently anti-war. He had flown through eight time zones to answer questions, only to face interrogators more keen on listening to themselves. He was lectured by Foreign Relations Committee chairman Joseph Biden, who questioned the validity of the general’s figures about the sharply reduced violence. (Biden was in fact wrong.) Senator Hillary Clinton, then the front-runner, in so many words called Petraeus a liar. To be fair, she put it politely, and might even have meant it as a compliment, one professional prevaricator to another, calling his testimony an “extraordinary effort” but one that requires a “willing suspension of disbelief.”

Senator Barack Obama was equally dismissive. He had staked his campaign in part on the purity of his opposition to the war. When his turn came, Obama lectured Petraeus on the futility of his mission, using up the full seven minutes allocated to him and giving the general no chance to respond. “We have now set the bar so low,” said Obama, “that modest improvement in what was a completely chaotic situation … is considered success. And it’s not. This continues to be a disastrous foreign-policy mistake.”

Petraeus had known that his reception would be unfriendly. This was not the loyal soldier reporting back from the front to a grateful nation; this was an inquisition. Congress had commanded his presence. The general had prepared for it like a defense attorney facing a hostile jury. He understood the politics in play. He also knew what was going on in Iraq far better than anyone else in the room.

It had been a dark period. His strategy for turning things around wasn’t unpopular only with Congress. Most of his own superior officers at the time—people such as General George Casey, the previous commander in Iraq and now the chief of staff of the U.S. Army, and General John Abizaid, who headed the U.S. Central Command (CentCom), the job Petraeus himself now holds—didn’t believe in it, either. A lifelong team player, Petraeus had been plucked out of the chain of command by President Bush. For the first time in his life, his immediate superiors were envious, suspicious, even actively hostile. In Iraq, American casualties had soared in the spring months, when he began implementing his new strategy, ordering soldiers out of their fortified enclaves and armored Humvees and into forward bases where they patrolled the dangerous streets on foot. ….
Facing Congress, he didn’t waver. It was the same now as on the day Bush had met with him privately in the Oval Office after the Senate confirmed his selection for what most felt was an impossible mission. The general had said, “Mr. President, this isn’t double-down.… This is all-in.” It was an expression that would be repeated often within his inner circle. They were staking everything on the outcome. There could be no second thoughts, no looking back.

The legislators who peered down skeptically at this unimposing officer in his resplendent uniform did not know their man. Here was someone who had forged an unparalleled record of success in perhaps the most competitive institution in America. In the words of one former aide, “Petraeus is the most competitive man on the planet.”

Biden pressed him hard, seeking to dismiss the general’s numbers and to wrest an admission that Iraq’s violence was beyond control. The senator had made frequent trips to the war zone. He saw himself not just as a critic but as a particularly well-informed and wily critic. He cast doubt on the general’s data, which showed a steep decline in violent incidents beginning in midsummer. The chairman contrasted that trend with contradictory findings in a recent Government Accountability Office report, which he referred to as “an independent study,” suggesting that it was more credible.

He let the damning implication hang there for a moment, and then magnanimously waved it aside, saying, “But let me not get into that debate.” Generous Joe had decided not to embarrass the witness further.

But he did want one little thing. He wanted Petraeus to concede—two sensible men looking each other in the eye—that however you crunched the numbers Baghdad was bad news. “Let me ask you a question,” said the chairman, like a cat probing a mousehole with its paw. “Can a Sunni Arab travel safely to a Shia neighborhood in Baghdad today without fear of being kidnapped or killed?”

Petraeus would respond, but he wasn’t going to let the slap at his statistics go unanswered. “First of all, Mr. Chairman, if I could make just one comment about the G.A.O. report … ” He explained that, far from being “independent,” it had used exactly the same data he had, except that its numbers were out of date—they ended “at least five weeks prior to our cutoff date, which ran until this past Friday.” Petraeus added, “The final five weeks have been pretty important.”

“Again, I don’t want to get into an argument about that,” said Biden. It was increasingly evident why not. “Let me get directly to my question”—and he asked again, extending that paw deeper into the hole, if there was any part of Baghdad where a Sunni could travel safely into a Shia area.
Leaning forward in his chair, Petraeus said, “It depends on the neighborhood, frankly, sir.” He conceded that the city was still dangerous, but insisted that, yes, there were now areas safe enough for Sunnis and Shiites to travel.

Biden wouldn’t let go. He tried a different approach, one that showcased his boots-on-the-ground expertise. He recounted how, on a recent visit to Iraq, his helicopter had been grounded by a sandstorm outside Baghdad. He and the other dignitaries had waited three hours for the storm to subside. Biden asked, “If that sandstorm had kept up, would any of those guys have gotten in a vehicle and traveled back to Baghdad?” He smiled broadly for the cameras with a great show of sparkling white teeth. “Maybe I’m mistaken. Was there any possibility of that likely to happen?”
He was answered by Ryan Crocker, the U.S. ambassador to Iraq, who had been working closely with Petraeus and was seated next to him at the witness table.

“Yes, sir,” said Crocker. “We tried to keep some of the commotion behind the scenes out of your view, but one of the alternatives we were actively working on was a road movement all the way back to Baghdad if we couldn’t get your helicopter out.”

“And that road movement would have been highly secured, would it not?” asked Biden.

“Well, for the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, yes, sir.”

You could almost hear the trap snap shut. Then came the laughter, which brought another smile to Biden’s face, this one sheepish. “Oh, I love you,” Biden said. “I love you.” Biden had drawn a different picture than he intended: the Washington Pooh-Bah visiting the combat zone for a photo op, no doubt creating a nuisance for the men working to secure his safety, impatiently waiting out a sandstorm, and now questioning the judgment of the general charged with protecting him. Who knew the situation better—the visiting pol or the general? And Petraeus hadn’t even spoken in his own defense.

“Done, Sir”
The testimony of David Petraeus before Congress was televised live, and General John Galvin, a retired four-star, watched it with avid interest and occasional amusement from his home in Atlanta. He was reminded of the first time he had met Petraeus, then a 28-year-old officer who had been recommended to him by a colleague as “the best captain in the division.”
When Galvin was given command of the 24th Infantry Division, at Fort Stewart, in 1981, he loaded his belongings into a trailer at Fort Monroe, in Hampton, Virginia, hitched it to his car, and drove down to the base, outside Savannah. He was met at the gate by his new aide, a whippet-thin, apple-cheeked, fair-haired young man who looked no older than 18. Petraeus took the wheel and drove Galvin to his quarters. The new commander tried to make conversation. He mentioned a few changes that had been on his mind, things he would like to implement with the division “right away.”
Petraeus listened and then said, “Done, sir.”
Galvin assumed that the captain meant he had noted the requests and would soon take care of them. But he wasn’t sure.
“Really?” he asked.
“I took care of those things, sir.”
The general mentioned another item on his agenda.
“Done, sir,” said Petraeus.
Galvin was impressed. He would expect a captain who had commanded a company to have a good grasp of that particular duty, but Petraeus had never commanded at a higher level. How had he managed to anticipate what a new leader might want? Not just anticipate it but have the confidence to act on it without waiting for instruction? In time, the general saw in his young aide a level of competence he had never before encountered.
“And here he is now before Congress, a four-star general himself, and he’s sitting on the edge of the chair leaning slightly forward, and they talk and talk and talk, and then he says, in effect, ‘Done, sir,’” says Galvin. “See, David Petraeus listens. He listens so intently that he slowly and subtly begins to dominate the conversation, even if the other person is the one talking. Before long they realize that he is out in front of them. He finds ways of letting them know—not with impatience but with earnest efficiency. You saw him doing that with those senators. He would listen for 10 minutes and then give back a three-sentence summary of what they just said. What I kept hearing was that young captain telling me, ‘Done, sir.’”

BC-OF NOTE: This article was for ‘Blue”…..


BC- As previously posted CIC Chair Liliana Pomareda was back on the Consent Agenda on May 25th for her “Block Party”…After some rather repugnant comments made by the new CIC Chair …and some pointed inquiries made to the Town Manager…Asst. Town Manager and the Town Atty. it was evident that staff was recommending this due to it being done successfully in other municipalities …negligible liability issues…and a new administration that believes they should assist in any way they can to bring neighbors together (we hear the same remarks are being made on other situations that have impacted other residents and businesses as a result of the former Administration having quite a different modus operandi) …The Asst. TM stated he went ahead with the item after looking at the code and seeing the request did not fall under the Special Event $100 deposit requirement… So it took that hurdle off the table…Vice Mayor Dodd could not vote it down due to Ms. Pomareda’s “rat hole” comment concerning the code department because doing so would have been to do a “McIntee/Silverstone” in reference to the duo voting down the BOA’s recommendation for approving the variances for Karen D’Uva last year when Ms. D’Uva made comments about staff’s less than steller actions throughout her multi-years process at the podium … McIntee told her he would not go for it after that and his pal followed suit…Mayor Minnet voted against it due to her belief it was the cart before the horse as far as the code/ordinance being in place…a position she held firm to before the statements were made by this applicant and also Ms. D’uva… Comm. Sasser voted for it due to the responses stated above from the Administration and Town Atty. and again taking any emotion out of it and voting on the merits and the recommendations… Comm. Clottey voted in the affirmative as well as she did for Ms. D’Uva and Comm. Vincent voted against due to “public safety” and taking into consideration Development Director Jeff Bowman’s comments at the previous Comm. meeting that what is stated on a permit can turn out to be something quite different…thus the “mardi gras” comment made by Vincent.. In the end the Mayor’s desire for detailed officers was not contained as a friendly amendment and the vote was 3-2 to go along with the staff’s recommendation…What needs to be addressed still before the June 5, 2010 party is what BSO  is requiring per the backup material and a report back from the staff (code) and BSO after the event itself on how it ended up in order for the Commission to proceed to draw up a form with the requirements for the next event which can be handled without coming before the full Commission…We have heard that a neighbor was unhappy about this event and not being informed it was coming in front of the Commission… Asst. TM Bentley made reference to that not being on the flier Ms. Pomareda passed around to her neighbors at the May 25th meeting …In the backup there was no requirement to have that on it…so it would need to be a requirement for the next applicant…Liliana Pomareda sent an e-mail to the Commissioners…(see below) which was  2-parter for those that voted her way and those that did not…She invited them to attend… This writer encourages the Commission to drop by to be able to see for themselves and then make any recommendations from their observations ….

That said, there are two schools of thought here…in this writer’s opinion….the CIC Chair is doing what her new political position demands by getting in the face of the new Commission/Administration and looking to get any traction in order to make a dramatic change yet again in the next local election…Also, from the feedback I am getting …. there is still a small faction who want payback for the last 2 years and they want the Commission to vote only on emotion…and personalities rather than to govern evenhandedly on the merits of the item before them …and the recommendations they receive from Administration/TAtty’s/Staff and our public safety providers after doing their homework…

Too bad…for those who might want to go that route….It’s a guaranteed early demise for any majority who does a “McIntee-Furth”!…


Note: E-Mails are public record……..

Sent: Thu 5/27/2010 6:44 PM
To: Birute Ann Clottey; Stuart Dodd; Scot Sasser; Chris Vincent; Roseann Minnet
Subject: N. Tradewinds Block Party

Vice Mayor Dodd, Commissioner Clottey, Commissioner Sasser,

Thank you for approving the permit for the block party for the kids. Glad to see your spirit of bringing the community together. The residents of North Tradewinds are excited about this event. Hope to see you there.

Mayor Minnet, Commissioner Vincent,

Sad to see you did not approve of such a great event for our residents. Also sad to see all the Town Council time spent, meeting after meeting, hours of Town Staff to discuss a simple request. Once again I see campaign promises not kept, perhaps you will change your mind if you come to see how nice it is when the community comes together with no political intentions. You are welcome to attend. I assure you Commissioner Vincent that you will see no “Mardi Gras”. I assure you Mayor Minnet you will not see any serious liability for the Town, requiring a public events insurance policy since after all this is a private event. You will only see smiles on kids faces and friendly neighbors.

Hope to see you all there!!!

Liliana Pomareda

North Tradewinds


more to come…….

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