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Bureau of Land Management in El Centro under attack?

July 28, 2009
  • Water spills from the front lawn into a street drainage at the Bureau of Land Management on Friday in El Centro. JOSELITO VILLERO PHOTOJoselito/Friday, July 24, 2009
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I passed by the Bureau of Land Management office in El Centro on Friday and it had a broken sprinkler head shooting water everywhere and flooding the street all the way down to Ross Avenue. I’ve been seeing this go on for a while now.

With so much water being wasted, I went inside the BLM office to say something about this and saw a couple of government employees at the front desk drinking their coffee. When I brought the sprinkler up, they acted like they couldn’t be bothered. That seems to be a lot of waste and I want them to take it seriously. ? Concerned Over Waste, El Centro

We spoke with Gil (who declined to give his last name), head of personnel at the U.S. Bureau of Land Management office on Fourth Street in El Centro, about this inquiry, and he gave us one of the most entertaining interviews we’ve had in PROBE in quite some time.

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Who says federal employees aren’t fun?

We would first like to say, that according to Gil, this particular sprinkler head had not been broken for some time (“And you’re going to believe that guy?” he asked), but was broken on Thursday night.

“One of your punks from your town damaged the sprinkler head the night before,” Gil said.

He said because the BLM office is private property leased by the federal government, Gil had to contact the owners to fix the sprinkler head. Gil said it was fixed by noon.

But this question brought up a larger issue for Gil, who said the BLM office is often under attack by thieves, vandals and other unsavory types because of the location.

“This is not a great area,” he said. “We’re looking to move out of here. The crazies and homeless come by and (are always) destroying and breaking property.”

Windows get broken at the office, people have tried to break into the building and the parking lot to steal things from the government vehicles, and, Gil said, BLM rangers have actually caught people in the act and arrested them.

Gil, who has worked at the El Centro office for about five years, said the office was established years ago in “this area when BLM thought this was an okey-doke area. Over a period of time, this has gotten worse.”

For example, he said, the BLM parking lot gets flooded because the homeless turn the sprinklers toward the parking lot so they can bathe in the puddles.

Gil has suggested to management that some sort of desert landscape with rocks and cactus be installed (“because we are in the desert”) so that sprinkler problems can stop, but so far it seems those suggestions have fallen on deaf ears.

We asked about his comment that the local BLM office is looking to move, he said that is up to Denver, meaning the Denver Federal Center, where contract and property management issues are handled for the government.

As for handling the vandalism?

“If it was up to me, it’d be Vietnam-style; we’d set up something nice. But of course we can’t do that,” Gil said, referring to a booby-trapping system, we presume.

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