Friday, June 28, 2013

What Does Darrel Issa Have In Common With Car Alarms?

It seems that car alarms are a good metaphor for Representative Darrel Issa.  Bear with me as I play this out.
"Car alarms are a terrible urban blight with obvious social costs - noise pollution, increased stress, wasted police manpower dealing with broken alarms - and it's not clear there are any benefits in return," says Lawrence Sherman, director of the Jerry Lee Center of Criminology at the University of Pennsylvania. "No study has demonstrated that they reduce auto theft."16
The above quote is from Transalt  a group trying to ban car alarms in New York City.

A 2005 New York times article says that
"nearly all of the burglar alarms investigated by the county's highly paid police are false. .  ."
Car alarms, the bane of suburban neighborhoods, barely show up in the false alarm figures because they are rarely reported except as noise complaints, authorities said."
Why am I telling you this?  Keep going a little further.
"Two companies, Directed Electronics of California and Audiovox of Hauppauge, dominate the car alarm industry and produce alarms under several brand names. Spokesmen for the companies said the alarms, augmented by new innovations, were highly effective in preventing theft."

Rep. Darrel Issa has been in the news lately.  He's chair of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, which, among other things, keeps track on the President.  His committee has been setting off a bunch of false alarms lately.  It's his committee that held hearings on Benghazi and most recently on the IRS targeting Tea Party folks.  And now we've learned that he ordered a very narrowly focused audit  focused only to look at Tea Party and other conservatives, but no others.  It now turns out that liberal groups were targeted too.

Immoral Minority posted a Chris Mathews video segment charging that Issa's been shooting blanks for weeks now.   In the interview he's corrected - for years now.

Darrel Issa is, according to NPR, the wealthiest member of Congress, worth $450 million.
Issa made his fortune building and selling Viper car alarms. [As your eyes read this sentence, if Blogger had the technology, you would now hear alarms.]
Viper car alarms are made by Directed Electronics, Inc (Darrel Issa's initials are DEI).  The same company mentioned above as one of the two main car alarm manufacturers.

The NPR piece also reports:
"For years I used to tell everyone that I went into it because my brother was a car thief. Then they found out when I ran for office my brother did spend time in prison as a car thief, and it ruined the whole joke I'd had for 20 years in business," Issa said during an interview with whorunsgov; .
It seems Darrel Issa has been accused of car theft himself - a couple of times. Where the police and courts and indictments were involved.  He seems though to have either talked or paid his way out of trouble. 

There are 435 members of Congress. I don't know about you, but I don't know all that much about most of them, but I do have google and it didn't take long for me to find out a little about Darrel Issa.

Apparently, he's pretty good with electronics and made about $450 million on his car alarm company.  That business that is a
 ". . . terrible urban blight with obvious social costs - noise pollution, increased stress, wasted police manpower dealing with broken alarms - and it's not clear there are any benefits in return,"
He apparently has lots of street smarts and is a good talker.

An eight page New Yorker article in 2010 investigated the many allegations that have been raised about Issa - and which apparently caused him not to run for Governor of California after he successfully got Governor Davis recalled.

Things like
  • driving the wrong way on a one way street and having concealed weapons in his glove compartment (in Ohio where that wasn't legal.)
  • burning down his factory (after removing the computer with all the data and quadrupling his insurance)
  • firing an employee by putting a box with a gun on his desk
  • stealing an army buddie's Dodge Charger
  • stealing a Maserati from a Cleveland dealership
  • padding his biography with false awards, falsely claiming to have protected President Nixon, and lying about his military record
  • reporting his car stolen and collecting the insurance after his brother sold it to a dealer
  • hit and run
The New Yorker article details each incident and Issa's explanations.  What I find interesting - well there are a number of things, like the length of the list -  is how all his problems are due to other people, how he seems to have surrounded himself with scumbags.  Here are a few examples from Lizza's article:
Issa told me that he did not set the fire at the Quantum factory in 1982, and he is furious that the story has dogged him. He lashed out at Eric Lichtblau, the New York Times reporter who, in 1998, while working for the Los Angeles Times, first aired allegations from Issa’s former business partner Joey Adkins. Lichtblau, Issa charged, “is a notorious hatchet man.” (“Everything in that story was accurate,” Lichtblau told me in response. “The picture that emerged of his early start in Cleveland was very different from the Horatio Alger story he had adopted.”) (p.7)
Issa seemed unfamiliar with the insurance company’s fire-analysis report concluding that the fire was arson, and said that, as far as he knew, it was officially declared accidental. He blamed the local fire department for letting the fire get out of hand.
Adkins, both Issa brothers said, is not credible. William told me that Adkins was “a lowlife.” The morning after the fire, Darrell said, Adkins took most of the Steal Stopper merchandise that wasn’t damaged, hauled it away, and set up a rival business across town. (Adkins told me it was his understanding that the inventory would be scrapped, so he took it.) It was that theft of merchandise, Darrell pointed out, that caused the insurance company to deny his claim on the Steal Stopper inventory. There was one more twist. Adkins’s brother, Gary, sold the merchandise back. Issa paid with a check that he cancelled before Gary Adkins could cash it.

The New Yorker article by Ryan Lizza, called "Don't Look Back" is well worth reading.

Issa's district is north of San Diego and includes the Pendleton Marine base, Oceanside, Carlsbad, San Inofre, San Clemente (where Nixon's California White House was) and San Juan Capistrano.  He won last November by 35,000 votes - 59% - 41%. 

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