Since some of us still have our Christmas lights up — you know who you are! — I don’t think we’ve reached the "write-by" date on stories that have a connection with the holidays. In Santa Clara County, California, we have a story that combines callousness, a jaw-dropping level of entitlement, and the usual government spokesman dishonesty.
The story begins in a heart-warming enough fashion. The Mercury News reports that Dynacraft Wheels, a toy company, wanted to donate 10,000 toys. The gifts included "Spider-Man dune buggies, CareBears’ buggies and Hello Kitty electric scooters that retail for more than $200." In the past, Dynacraft donated toys to the Valley Medical Center Foundation, but a donation that size was more than the foundation was equipped to handle.
Foundation officials contacted Steve Preminger, an aide to Santa Clara County Executive Jeff Smith, to see if the county could add this donation to its annual Christmas toy distribution for low-income families. Unfortunately Dynacraft’s generous donation was turned into an impromptu gift-grab by light-fingered "public servants."
Trucks bearing gifts rolled into the parking lot behind the county administration building. County employees saw the trucks and proceeded to descend on the charitable toys like tax collectors pouncing on a profitable business.
Aides from Smith’s office, possibly with violent visions of Black Friday mayhem dancing in their heads, started giving away toys meant for the needy to greedy paid-by-taxpayer county employees. Eventually the feeding frenzy subsided and the toys that remained were put in storage.
County Assessor Larry Stone heard about the gift grope and was appalled.
Stone sent a memo to employees in his office advising them the toy "distribution" was a mistake, that the gifts were intended for low-income families and that employees in his office could return the gifts with no questions asked to his office.
Stunningly, County Executive Smith contradicted Stone and sent out another memo telling employees to keep what they grabbed.
Steve Preminger, of Smith’s office, claimed that employees grabbing toys off the back of the truck like crowds fighting over rice distribution in Haiti were in actuality going to take the freebies and donate them to a "nonprofit or church," although why Smith decided to add half a hundred middlemen and women when the country already has a toy distribution was not explained.
Preminger claimed employees that took toys signed a list with their name, number, and how many toys they took. But he refused to provide the list, assuming it exists.
If you are shocked by the lack of moral compass in the county executive’s office, you are not alone. Stone predicted, "There are children at Christmas who aren’t going to receive toys and this was a source of toys for needy kids. Morally, we have to do the right thing."
Maybe County Executive Smith will set up an event where low-income children can watch county employee children play with toys that were meant for them.
Michael Reagan, the eldest son of President Reagan, is a Newsmax TV analyst. A syndicated columnist and author, he chairs The Reagan Legacy Foundation. Michael is an in-demand speaker with Premiere speaker’s bureau. Read more reports from Michael Reagan — Go Here Now.