Category: Washington

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Tractor Trailer Trapped After Driving for Miles on Boardwalk Near Atlantic City

This is why drivers should second guess questionable directions from their GPS.

via Twitter

A truck driver found himself in quite the predicament when his GPS directed him to turn onto a New Jersey boardwalk and follow it for miles. According to Fox News[1] on Wednesday morning, the driver made it all the way to Ventnor City before getting stuck and requiring police intervention.

An officer who saw the truck didn’t initially think anything was wrong, but rather thought that the truck was part of a project meant to replenish the sand dunes in the area. After speaking with the driver, the officer learned that the 80-foot long truck was actually stuck on the boardwalk and couldn’t make a turn required to exit the area.

According to police, the driver told officers that he entered the boardwalk on Atlantic Avenue in Atlantic City and continued to drive the truck for nearly three miles to Washington Avenue in Ventnor. Like many odd events revolving around tractor-trailers[2], the entire ordeal left officers baffled about just how the truck navigated its way along the shoreline.

“It is something that I haven’t seen in my 31 years,” Police Chief Doug Biagi told[3], “We have seen vehicles up there. We have seen vehicles crashed up there. I have never seen an 18-wheeler.”

The entire incident wasn’t without damage, however. The truck was unable to exit the boardwalk successfully. As a result, about 100 feet of railing was damaged. 

Police called in a tow truck, unhooked the trailer, and removed both individually. City engineers are in the process of checking the boardwalk to ensure no structural damage occurred. 

This seems like a case of ignorance by the driver, as he was not found to be under the influence at the time of the incident. Fortunately, nobody was hurt and there was no considerable damage with the truck[4] involved. Even though responders were able to coordinate the removal of the vehicle, Police issued the driver several traffic summonses for the event. Maybe he’ll pay more attention to where his GPS guides him in the future.

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  1. ^ Fox News (
  2. ^ odd events revolving around tractor-trailers (
  3. ^ (
  4. ^ considerable damage with the truck (

Trump hires campaign workers instead of farm experts at USDA

President Donald Trump’s appointees to jobs at Agriculture Department headquarters include a long-haul truck driver, a country club cabana attendant and the owner of a scented-candle company.

A POLITICO review of dozens of résumés from political appointees[1] to USDA shows the agency has been stocked with Trump campaign staff and volunteers who in many cases demonstrated little to no experience with federal policy, let alone deep roots in agriculture. But of the 42 résumés POLITICO reviewed, 22 cited Trump campaign experience. And based on their résumés, some of those appointees appear to lack credentials, such as a college degree, required to qualify for higher government salaries.

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It’s typical for presidents to reward loyalists with jobs once a campaign is over. But what’s different under Trump, sources familiar with the department’s inner workings say, is the number of campaign staffers who have gotten positions and the jobs and salaries they have been hired for, despite not having solid agricultural credentials in certain cases. An inexperienced staff can lead to mistakes and sidetrack a president’s agenda, the sources say.

“There is a clear prioritization of one attribute, and that is loyalty,” said Austin Evers, American Oversight’s executive director, who provided the documents after his organization received them in response to a Freedom of Information Act request. He said the group sought résumés for Trump administration political appointees from across the federal government and found an abundance of former campaign workers in positions that did not appear to match their qualifications. “The theme that emerges is pretty clear: What do you have to do to get an administration job? Work on the campaign,” he added.

USDA in a statement defended the hires: “All of the appointees have skills that are applicable to the roles they fill at USDA.”

The truck driver, Nick Brusky, was hired this year at USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service — an agency tasked with developing overseas markets for U.S. agricultural trade goods — at one of the highest levels on the federal government’s pay scale, a GS-12, earning $79,720 annually. Though that pay grade requires a master’s degree or equivalent experience, it’s not clear from Brusky’s résumé whether he’s a college graduate. The document lists coursework in business management and political science at three universities from 2000 to 2013, but does not specify a graduation date.

Brusky served as a field representative for Trump’s campaign in the battleground state of Ohio, beginning in November 2016, while driving for a trucking company in Hilliard, where he also was a county commissioner. Brusky’s résumé shows he has no experience in cultivating international markets for trade goods, though he notes he has experience “hauling and shipping agricultural commodities.” It says he was twice elected to local office and was a legislative aide to an Ohio state representative from January 2009 until June 2012.

Another example: Christopher O’Hagan, an appointee as a confidential assistant at the Agricultural Marketing Service, which helps producers of food, fiber and specialty crop growers market their goods. O’Hagan graduated in 2016 from the University of Scranton with a major in history and a minor in economics. But his résumé lists only one example of work experience prior to joining the Trump campaign in January 2016 — employment as a cabana attendant at the Westchester Country Club in Rye, New York, while in school.

Similarly, Trump campaign alum Tim Page, a 2016 graduate of Appalachian State University, is now at the Natural Resources Conservation Service, an agency that helps farmers, ranchers and forest managers employ conservation practices. Page’s résumé indicates that he owns Cutting Edge LLC, a landscaping service in Connelly Springs, North Carolina.

“Much in the same way previous administrations have done, the USDA worked with the Presidential Personnel Office to place Schedule C appointees where they could be most helpful to the mission of the department,” the department said in an email to POLITICO. “All of the appointees have skills that are applicable to the roles they fill at USDA.“

O’Hagan, Page and Brusky did not respond to emails requesting comment and the USDA declined to make them available for this story.

Brusky, O’Hagan and Page are three of 10 confidential assistants whose résumés were among those obtained by American Oversight, along with the résumés of some career staff who are acting in leadership roles. All but one of the 10 touted their work to get the president elected, and most do not have agricultural experience. All of the appointees with this title are ranked as GS-11, GS-12 or GS-13, positions with annual salaries ranging from $60,210 to $85,816[2] at Step 1 of each grade. Two of the 10 didn’t list college degrees on their résumés, despite guidelines that call for anyone at GS-7 or higher to have completed a four-year degree.

Further, none of the confidential assistants indicated they had earned a master’s. Employees at the GS-9 level or higher are required by Office of Personnel Management guidelines to have obtained that level of education or equivalent experience.

The USDA said duties of a confidential assistant include “conducting research; preparing documents for special projects; overseeing correspondence control … receiving a wide variety of telephone inquiries from executives within and outside the USDA and from other agencies.”

O’Hagan and Page were hired at the GS-12 level and assigned to the secretary’s office, with a salary of $79,720. They were then transferred to their current roles, both of which are at the GS- 11 level and come with an annual salary of $66,510. Four other political appointees had their salaries reduced after they started.

“By the time these people are serving in confidential assistant roles, they are sitting on a very thin layer in government bureaucracy,” a former USDA official who arrived at the department at the beginning of the Obama administration, noting that the confidential assistant positions can be involved with technical decisions on policy matters. “If you just have someone with no higher education and no experience and no background in policymaking as the arbiter on these questions, that’s pretty unusual.”

Also in the ranks of USDA political appointees are the scented-candle company owner; a clerk at AT&T; a Republican National Committee intern; a part-time executive assistant and rental property manager; and a former Washington state senator who mentioned on his résumé that he was the first elected official in his state to back Trump’s candidacy.

The list of 42 appointees also includes seven special assistants, who command higher salaries than confidential assistants and generally have experience in policy and government. All of the special assistants are either GS-14 or GS-15, which start at $101,402 and 119,285, respectively. Three of the seven special assistants mentioned work on the campaign on their résumés.

In the early days of the Obama USDA, more experienced people coming off the campaign were given posts as confidential assistants, the former USDA official explained. They were tasked with assisting Senate-confirmed officials, taking notes during meetings and coordinating efforts with career staff.

Special assistants, by contrast, performed jobs for officials who did not require Senate confirmation, such as chiefs of staff, administrators and other leadership posts. There were some young staffers with ties to the campaign trail, sources conceded. The Obama team also pulled heavily from Capitol Hill staff to fill key roles, but only a handful of the appointees at USDA as of late last month have made a similar jump.

For the most part, the administration’s selections for leadership positions at USDA have been well received by industry and Capitol Hill. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue, a two-term governor of Georgia who also is a veterinarian and ran a host of agriculture-related businesses, got the endorsement of former Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, the only Trump Cabinet official to be backed by his predecessor.

Perdue also has brought on board about a half-dozen policy advisers and high-level political staff who have backgrounds at influential agricultural policy groups or as staffers on relevant congressional committees or who served under Perdue during his time as Georgia governor. None of these hires listed campaign experience among their qualifications.

Meanwhile, even with the campaign loyalists who are now on the USDA staff, the administration is still behind schedule in hiring for the agency’s more than 200 political positions that span from Washington, D.C., to rural communities across all 50 states.

The combination of a thin political staff and a lack of appropriate expertise among the appointees could spell trouble for Purdue as he pushes forward with his reorganization plan and other policy objectives, said a former USDA official who arrived at the department at the beginning of the Obama administration.

“If you don’t have talented people, experienced people, people who know how policymaking works, there are a number of ways you can get your agenda sidetracked,” said the former staffer, who was granted anonymity to discuss staffing freely. Policymaking is filled with landmines — from congressional oversight to complicated rules related to acceptance of gifts, the source noted, adding: “What you can get is both the failure to take advantage of opportunities … and mistakes that will eat up time and energy.”


  1. ^ political appointees (
  2. ^ $60,210 to $85,816 (
  3. ^ POLITICO Playbook (
  4. ^ Show Comments (

Brakes on 3 axles failed before potato truck slammed transit bus

Jonathan Hollenbeck finished his classes at Kennewick High School when he boarded the Ben Franklin Transit bus to head home Tuesday afternoon.

The Route 47 bus connects east and west Kennewick with a detour through the Southridge area.

His stepmother, Gabby Hollenbeck, was waiting to catch the same bus on Metaline Avenue. Jonathan normally gets off the bus at that stop when she’s climbing aboard to go to work.

But Tuesday the bus didn’t show up and the 34-year-old Kennewick woman starting seeing news alerts on her phone that a bus was broadsided by a potato truck on Highway 395.


Jonathan Hollenbeck

Courtesy Aaron Hollenbeck

Truck driver Zurisday Moya-Jimenez, 33, of Umatilla, was behind the wheel of the semi heading north into Kennewick toward at 55 mph. The light turned red. He stepped on the brakes — and they didn’t work.

Washington State Patrol Trooper Chris Thorson confirmed Wednesday that initial tests show the brakes on three of the truck’s four axles failed.

Witnesses told investigators that Moya-Jimenez did the only thing he could while piloting what had become a potato-filled battering ram. He laid on the horn in an attempt to warn other drivers that he was out of control, said Thorson.

Houston McDaniel, 15, of Kennewick, was riding the transit bus home when he saw the truck barrelling toward them, but didn’t think much of it.

“I didn’t quite realize that it would hit us until it did,” he told the Herald. “I closed my eyes on impact and when I opened them I was sitting on the floor, waist deep in potatoes.”

He was badly bruised but was not hospitalized.

Jonathan Hollenbeck was not as lucky.

The 15-year-old freshman was sitting behind the bus driver as the bus entered the intersection of Highway 395 and Hildebrand Boulevard just after 3 p.m.

He was on the side of the bus slammed by the truck and was the most seriously injured. Doctors later diagnosed him with a ruptured spleen, a broken pelvis and a concussion.

I didn’t quite realize that it would hit us until it did. I closed my eyes on impact and when I opened them I was sitting on the floor, waist deep in potatoes.

Houston McDaniel

When Gabby saw the posts online of the crash and the crumpled remains of the bus, she knew it was Jonathan’s bus.

“I tried to locate Jonathan first,” she told the Herald. “I didn’t want to create any extra worries.”

“At the time, I was thinking he had a broken arm, maybe a broken leg, and that’s why he wasn’t able to get back to me (by text message),” Gabby said. “The more I thought about it, the more I felt like something was wrong.”

While she was trying to reach other relatives to go to the scene, investigators were trying to find Jonathan’s ID and contact school officials.

They found the boy’s uncle, who was listed as his emergency contact, who then reached Jonathan’s father, Aaron. Jonathan’s family arrived just as he was being taken into surgery.

“They had sedated him, and he was fighting it because he was out of it,” Gabby said.

They had sedated him and he was fighting it because he was out of it.

Gabby Hollenbeck

Surgeons removed his spleen and, since then, he’s been in and out of consciousness.

“There were no complications with the surgery. It went really good,” she said. “The only thing that might cause him problems is the break in his pelvis, but the doctors are optimistic that it will heal just fine.”

The teen was moved out of intensive care earlier on Wednesday and will likely spend a few days in the hospital before he’s sent home.

The remains of the Ben Franklin bus are at the district’s transit center. Kurt Workman, a spokesman for the agency said it will cost about $424,000 to replace the bus.

“Really our concern is for the safety of our driver and the passengers on the bus,” he said. “Our hearts go out to the people that were hurt, but we’re grateful it wasn’t worse.”

The female bus driver and two other passengers also were checked at area hospitals but not admitted.

The investigation is continuing, Thorson said. The semi was part of a fleet of trucks owned by a private company, and troopers are examining the vehicle maintenance inspection reports.