by Bob Fitrakis
Hey, did you hear the one about the governor’s chief of staff, Paul Mifsud, recently resigning “to spend more time with his family”? Family values, you gotta love those Republicans. I mean, here’s this guy at the pinnacle of power practically deciding who gets what contract, grant, tax abatement, etc. and he just walks away because he’s a family man. Right! You may have seen a strange little preemptive strike of an article in Saturday’s Dispatch where “Daddy Knows Best” Mifsud called upon the Ethics Committee to investigate himself. Why?
Read the Dispatch on Sunday and you won’t know. But please, please, don’t read Sunday’s Akron Beacon Journal. It wrecks the whole “family values” spin. Seems Mr. Mifsud’s then wife-to-be had some “sweetheart”-type construction-some $220,000 worth-done on her home by “minority” contractor T.J. Banks. Banks, the minority, owns the majority of the company and the Carbone family owns the rest. And, boy, coincidentally, do they get a lot of state contracts. Anyway, it’s all in that awful other Sunday paper you absolutely shouldn’t read under any circumstance. ‘Cause, you know, sometimes a man just likes to walk away from it all and spend some time with the missus and the young’un.
And rumor has it that a former top-level Dispatch executive who was canned may also have had a sweetheart home construction deal with the ubiquitous Mr. Banks, who was building commercially for the Dispatch Printing Company at the time.
Don’t fret, the Big D didn’t really go liberal on us in Sunday’s front page lead article. Yeah, it sounds like they’re apologizing for ineffective Big Government cost overruns on the Statehouse renovation. But that’s just a cover.
Their headline is a classic: “A pittance per person makes Capitol stately.” They go on to tell us how the $112.7 million restoration-“64 percent higher than the estimate”-is perhaps one of the greatest bargains in modern governmental history. Their lead, “the $29 renovation of the Statehouse is complete.” That’s $29 times 8.2 million taxpayers.
Now, after such a bargain, it would be uncharitable to bring up the fact that they regularly chastise the Clinton administration for cost overruns on every federal building they could find. Indeed, a recent editorial complained that a building with large cost overruns shouldn’t be named after the former President Ronald Reagan since he-of tripling the long-term debt from $800 billion to $2.4 trillion fame-was “a budget-cutter.” And Hitler was a peacemaker.
Oh, and the Dispatch forgot to mention they own the property right across the street that zoomed up in value with the renovation. So, it’s not really liberalism, just plain old socialism for the rich.
Covert Operations at Rickenbacker?
All evidence points to Columbus’ Rickenbacker airport as the site of covert CIA operations during the Yugoslavian civil war. As previously mentioned in this column, admitted “ex-CIA” airline, Southern Air Transport (SAT), moved its hub from Miami, Florida (“ah, the good ol’ Bay of Pigs days”) to Columbus in 1995. This is the same time that President Clinton secretly authorized the arming of Bosnian Muslims, brought to our attention by Bob Dole and other Republican members of the U.S. Senate as a campaign issue.
In January, Southern Air official David Sweet admitted that Southern Air Transport held contracts with the U.S. government related to the Peace Accord signed by Serbia, Croatia and Bosnia in late November in Fairborn, Ohio.
Sweet noted, according to the Dispatch, that one of SAT’s “advantages” is its fleet of 15, L-100 Lockheed Hercules planes, a commercial, extended version of the military’s C-130 cargo planes. Sweet praised the L-100’s ability to land on “unimproved” airstrips. Loaders who worked for Rickenbacker, not SAT, report loading uniform 10,000-pound crates on the L-100s throughout 1995, prior to the Peace Accord.
I can only speculate as to what was in them. Arms for the Bosnian Muslims? No doubt SAT officials, as they’re trained, will deny this and claim they should neither be tainted by their CIA ownership from 1960-1973, nor their role in the Iran-Contra scandal. Still, being ex-CIA is a lot like being ex-Mafia.
Just ask Columbus’ own General Richard Secord, an international arms dealer with long-standing ties to the CIA who leased a C-123 Southern Air Transport plane that was shot down on October 5, 1986 over Nicaragua and made Iran-Contra a household word. Secord last emerged from the spookworld in the early 1990s in Azerbaijan where he had ties to a U.S. oil company, MegaOil, where ex-U.S. armed forces members were paid mercenaries conducting “military training programs.”
A UN procurement dispute in 1993 found that both SAT and Evergreen helicopters, another “ex-CIA” proprietary, contained more (ex-)spooks than a Jaycee’s haunted house at Halloween.
In November 1993, the Los Angeles Times reported that SAT procured lucrative supply contracts to service U.S. peacekeeping forces in Somalia, including one to fly Israeli mineral water from Mogadishu to outlying towns at $30,000 a day. So, the former Yugoslavia, Somalia, what’s the next job? Saudi Arabia? I’d think twice before buying that property near Rickenbacker. Could be a different version of red, white, and boom!