Bears, Dogs and Peta, Oh My!

Cumberland County may need a wizard of sorts to help them out of this Jambbas Ranch situation. Make no mistake about it, this publication is all about supporting our gentle giant friend, Ben the Bear. Unfortunately, for many people out-of-sight is out-of-mind when it comes to Ben and we haven’t heard much about the plight of our furry friend until recently.

With the recent run of record-breaking temperatures, Ben has been front and center in the minds of those of us who sympathize with his plight. Imagine the sweltering heat Ben must be enduring in his cramped and confi ned quarters at Jambbas Ranch as the wheels of justice slowly turn.

At least Ben is a loner and not running amuck in our community being hunted down by bounty hunters like the dozens of wild dogs we have in the county. Their antics are creating chaos, frightening residents and posing the health risk of possible rabies exposure. For this problem, the city and county have acted and reacted responsibly. No doubt, wild dogs running in packs pose a threat to the health and safety of our residents. I would dispute anyone who thought or spoke otherwise.

Even the PETA people. 08-24-11-bill-article.jpg

However, Ben the Bear poses no such threats. He is just trying to live out his life with a little dignity and humanity. Even innocent young children who visit Jambbas Ranch can sense the hint of animal cruelty and inhumanity. I’m not an attorney, but I do know this: “Where there is smoke, there is fi re.”

It doesn’t make any difference whether you like PETA or not, they are going all the way in defense of Ben the Bear. Except now it will be with a twist. You see, overshadowing Ben the Bear’s horrid and cramped living conditions at Jambbas Ranch, are the allegations by PETA that Cumberland County Attorney Rick Moorefield intentionally failed to enforce the county’s ban on captive exotic animals. And, they plan to fi le a complaint with North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper’s office asking for investigation and enforcement — including the removal of Cumberland County Attorney Rick Moorefi eld.

According to the charges, in addition to Ben the Bear, Jambbas Ranch allegedly incarcerates many other wild and exotic animals like foxes, raccoons and alligators. However, the other charges we feel are more disturbing: Moorefi eld’s failure to comply with North Carolina Public Records Law and a charge that he lied and misled Cumberland County Commissioners, offi cials and even the media. Jambbas Ranch, and its owner James Bass, could skirt liability of the charges that were already pending against him.

Who would have thought that changing a law “after the fact” would have been objectionable or inappropriate? Perhaps our legal system will sort it all out for us. However, I do know this: For this situation to have happened at all, poor judgment was exercised by many. Unfortunately, this wink-wink, nod-nod policy adjustment is going to cost Cumberland County taxpayers tens of thousands of dollars, win or lose.

So, at this point, what difference will it make?

Can you imagine what the county could have done with that kind of money? Worse, is the thought that the hard cost to Cumberland County taxpayers to defend the allegations against Moorefield (which is actually an indictment against our county leadership) will pale in comparison to the loss and cost in terms of our damaged reputation and community standing in the eyes of other North Carolina communities and the nation. And, again, I have to ask, for what? Principle. Principle? Really? Oh, what a shame.

We have allowed one person, James Bass, with one business, Jambbas Ranch, to put our county in this lose-lose position where we have to defend ourselves for doing something that may have been technically legal but inappropriate. We should be smarter than this. If not in the past then surely, and hopefully, in the future.

Thanks for reading Up & Coming Weekly. Go Ben!

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