PEER: Interior Department needs new brooms to sweep it clean

Whistleblowers and Reformers Required to Rejuvenate Ravaged Agencies

In response to President-elect Obama’s decision to name rancher Ken Salazar Secretary of the Interior, a selection widely celebrated by extractive industry groups and current Bush Interior head Dirk Kempthorne, grass-roots wildlife, public land, and animal rights activists continue to scratch their heads with dismay.  It’s a bitter pill.

Despite Salazar’s abysmal record, Ralph (and many perhaps wiser than myself) have expressed the need for patience and continued effort pointing to the fact that the transition team’s choices regarding Salazar’s under-secretaries/agency-heads will likely be more important indications of Obama’s actual intent for Change of an Interior Department despoiled by corruption, greed, and extractive industries’ uninhibited will.

Public Employees For Environmental Responsibility has released a list of suggestions to fill these important positions for the transition-team to mull over – a list of “whistleblowers and reformers”, many whose integrity and real ability previously cost them their jobs.

PEER’s Press Release :

Contact:  Luke Eshleman (202) 265-7337

INTERIOR DEPARTMENT NEEDS NEW BROOMS TO SWEEP IT CLEAN
Whistleblowers and Reformers Required to Rejuvenate Ravaged Agencies

Washington, DC – The Obama transition should reach out to reformers and whistleblowers to transform the scandal-wracked U.S. Department of Interior, according to Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER).  Under President Bush, corporate penetration into the top echelons at Interior resulted in a prison term for its number-two official, losses of billions in oil royalty dollars and scandals ranging from sex and drug parties to unprecedented political manipulation of science.

President-elect Obama naming Senator Ken Salazar (D-CO) as Interior Secretary-designate was greeted with a huge sigh of relief from drilling, mining and livestock interests.  In his short statement at the December 17th press conference, Salazar stressed “As the Nominee to be Secretary of the Interior, I will do all I can to help reduce America’s dangerous dependence on foreign oil.”  He made only passing reference to protecting natural resources and no mention of the parade of recent scandals.

“‘The change we need’ requires change agents,” stated PEER Executive Director Jeff Ruch, recalling an Obama campaign slogan.  “Energy production, the stated priority of Secretary-designate Salazar, is only one of many issues confronting Interior; we desperately need leaders passionately committed to public service, protecting public resources and the plethora of other problems plaguing this gigantic agency which controls one out of every five acres in the U.S.”

To run the agencies within Interior, PEER is presenting the Obama transition with a slate of agency veterans and experts who exhibit what the President-elect calls “a new kind of leadership”.  Most have made career sacrifices to advance the stewardship principles that are the cornerstones of their agencies’ missions.  The PEER “nominees” include –

  • Martha Hahn as Director of the Bureau of Land Management.  Martha has more than 25 years of experience in both the BLM and Park Service.  In 2002, at the behest of Sen. Larry Craig (R-ID), she was removed at the BLM Idaho State Director by Deputy Interior Secretary Steven Griles in connection with grazing reforms she had instituted.  Today, she is Division Chief for Science and Resource Management at Grand Canyon National Park;
  • John Donahue as the Director of the National Park Service.  John has served at several national parks and received the Stephen T. Mather Award for exemplary stewardship in addressing off-road vehicle challenges as Superintendent of Big Cypress National Preserve.  He is regarded as one of the most forward-thinking park managers in the nation and is currently Superintendent of the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area;
  • Bobby Maxwell as Director of Minerals Management Service.  Formerly an audit manager at MMS, Bobby blew the whistle on vast royalty underpayment by major oil companies but was ordered to drop his issue and was later “re-organized” out of his position in 2005.  As a private citizen, Maxwell filed a suit to recover the billions of dollars owed to taxpayers and has campaigned against what he calls the “cult of corruption” at MMS;
  • Phil Doe as Commissioner of Reclamation.  In his 20 years at the Bureau of Reclamation, Phil exposed and ended large illegal water subsidies to agribusiness posing as family farms.  He pushed other cost recovery policies to protect the taxpayer interest in huge water projects.  Since leaving Reclamation, he has been a citizen activist promoting protection of the public’s water resources;
  • Patrick McGinley as Director of the Office of Surface Mining.  Patrick has 35 years of experience with the administration and enforcement of laws relating to coal mine health and safety and coal mining and reclamation.  He is the grandson of a coal miner who suffered from black lung disease and served as a Special Assistant Attorney General, Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, on the “Environmental Strike Force” enforced mine safety and anti-pollution laws.  Today he is a  law professor at West Virginia University College of Law;
  • Robert McCarthy as Interior Solicitor.  In late 2007, as a Field Solicitor, McCarthy testified against his own agency in the Indian trust class action lawsuit Cobell v. Kempthorne.  He contradicted Interior’s central defense that it can accurately account for income from leases of 300,000 Indian landowners and was cited by the judge in his ruling for the plaintiffs.  Currently he is the Managing Attorney of the Oklahoma City Law Office for Legal Aid Services and recently received the Fern Holland Courageous Lawyer Award from the state bar association; and
  • Teresa Chambers as Chief of the U.S. Park Police.  Just days after giving an interview with the Washington Post, revealing low staffing levels, Chief Teresa Chambers was ordered to surrender her badge, weapon and ID and was relieved of her duties.  In what has become the prime example of the Bush administration’s suppression of information, Chambers was ultimately removed from the Chief position.  She recently won an appeal of that action before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit.  Chambers is presently serving as Chief of Police for Riverdale Park, a town in Prince George’s County, Maryland.

“Many of these agencies have been gutted, not just by the Bush appointees but, in some cases, by the Clintonites before them,” Ruch added.  “To repair the damage, we need a new direction, not just placeholders.”

###

PEER Interior Nominee Bios (PDF)

14 Responses to “PEER: Interior Department needs new brooms to sweep it clean”

  1. Ralph Maughan Says:

    Obama would do well to elevate these brave people to high positions or offer them a job for those who have left or were forced out of the federal government by the corrupt Bush Administration.

    This would send a message that law-breaking and corruption will not be tolerated in a way that a speech or a new code of ethics would not.

  2. kt Says:

    I almost barfed when I looked at the photo at the link that Brian provided. Ken Salazar looking vapidly dazed/starstruck. Dirk Kempthorne who has never had an original thought in his life – bedecked in some leather aviator (or is it mid-life crisis motorcycle) jacket with what looks like a leather flag, or something. Kempthorne throughout his entire career has been nothing but a pretty face plastered on top of lobbyist and industry desires.

    The Changing of the Guard at Interior – One plastic industry Frontman for another.

  3. HonestChief WebMaster Says:

    Let’s hope the new administration will do some house cleaning and may be even put an end to this injustice and restore Teresa Chambers as Chief of the United States Park Police.

    You can find more on Chief Chambers case by visiting http://www.honestchief.com and http://www.peer.org

  4. Ralph Maughan Says:

    HonestChief WebMaster,

    Thank you for this link. I hope folks will give support

  5. jdubya Says:

    This was interesting about Hahn: she is a fly fisher!

    http://www.matr.net/article-11274.html

  6. timz Says:

    I see the Bush Administration on it’s way out the door, approved drilling 18,000 gas wells in Montana

    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/28448192/

  7. Salle Says:

    kt,
    “I almost barfed when I looked at the photo at the link that Brian provided. Ken Salazar looking vapidly dazed/starstruck. Dirk Kempthorne who has never had an original thought in his life – bedecked in some leather aviator (or is it mid-life crisis motorcycle) jacket with what looks like a leather flag, or something. Kempthorne throughout his entire career has been nothing but a pretty face plastered on top of lobbyist and industry desires.

    The Changing of the Guard at Interior – One plastic industry Frontman for another.”

    If you thought he looked overtly “heavenly blessed” in that photo, this one in NYT “the new team” page is more so…

    http://projects.nytimes.com/44th_president/new_team

    It looks way out of place compared to those of the other nominees.. I wonder…

  8. TimothyB Says:

    Way off topic here but does anyone find comments like the following petty? I mean, can a person really help how his smiles comes across in a picture? Does it really matter what the person looks like?

    1. “I almost barfed when I looked at the photo at the link that Brian provided. Ken Salazar looking vapidly dazed/starstruck.”

    2. “If you thought he looked overtly “heavenly blessed” in that photo, this one in NYT “the new team” page is more so…It looks way out of place compared to those of the other nominees.. I wonder…”

  9. kt Says:

    TimothyB – Since I made that comment: That is kind of one thing that Blogs or for – gauging people’s gut reactions to the Goings On of the Day. Because you know we live in a culture where images, advertising, etc. does a whole lot to sell things, communicate political mindsets, etc.

    Interior right now is desperately in need of a leader. Salazar and his Big Hat looks more like a stage prop than a leader. And, as the NY Times editorialized, lots of folks are quite worried about his ability to do all that needs to be done.

  10. Ralph Maughan Says:

    It’s one thing to show up wearing a suit and a big cowboy hat one time, but if you watch the videos about Michael Bennet I linked to, there is Salazar again with suit and big hat.

  11. Salle Says:

    I’m with kt on this one. Looks aren’t all that deceiving in the current administration… They have proven that over and over again. You know that when W comes out and gives lip service to a program, it is sure to be ravaged to near elimination soon afterward, especially if it isn’t one of his draconian programs and happens to be benefiting the “little people”. Salazar isn’t a “little people” kind of advocate, period.

  12. kt Says:

    I know we talked about this a lot before, so I will not belabor it any more after this – but Ken Salazar signals Good Old Boys Firmly in Charge of the Public’s Land. Hopes for Change – Dashed. Destruction and Death of Species – Continues.

    I think he is particularly revolting to women.

    That over-sized hat worn indoors under any and all circumstances. There is phallic imagery there, too. Even if you don’t buy phallic – then Manly Man.

    The last thing the public lands need is more heavy-handed cowboy-hatted domination.

    Don’t believe me?

    http://adblog.msnbc.msn.com/archive/2008/12/15/1704994.aspx

  13. Layton Says:

    Soooo,

    I’m learning here — Timothy B. maybe this will save you some learning time.

    People are bad, or ignorant, or in bred, or racist, or maybe all of the above, if:

    They are Republican.

    They are Mormon.

    They don’t like wolves.

    They are natives of Montana, Wyoming, or (gasp) Idaho.

    They wear cowboy hats — or leather jackets.

    They don’t believe that ranchers that use public lands are some sort of reincarnation of the devil.

    They can’t/don’t use the word “oligarchy” or one of it’s derivatives at least once a week.

    And HEAVEN help them if they don’t bow to Washington DC and Saint Obama 4 times a day.

    Happy 2009 8)


Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: