November 28, 2005

Bush's War On Civil Servants

Nick Turse has been putting together a list of those who have resigned or lost their job under the Bush administration because they disagreed with or refused to carry out a bankrupt Bush policy. Soon, he and Tom Englehardt plan to have an online Wall to honor those who have tried to stop the onslaught.

Here's the story of one who found the battle with the Bush administration more than she could bear:

Marlene Braun: A 13-year veteran of the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM), she was appointed manager of Carrizo Plain National Monument -- 250,000 acres of native grasses and Native American sacred sites, located about 120 miles northwest of Los Angeles. Once the Bush administration came to power, the BLM, under Interior Secretary Gale Norton, "began crafting a grazing policy that lifted protections for wildlife and habitat across 161 million acres of public lands in the West, including the Carrizo." In an August 2005 article, the Los Angeles Times wrote, that Braun "was torn between the demands of a new boss who she felt favored the region's ranchers, and conservation policies adopted nearly a decade ago to protecting the austere swath of prairie she shared with pronghorn antelope and peregrine falcons, the California condor and the California jewelflower." That boss, said Braun, stripped her of "almost all my influence on the Plain," transferring it to those she deemed to be "pro-grazing." She repeatedly clashed with him and wrote to colleagues, "I ... can't keep fighting indefinitely, I don't thinků [but m]aybe fighting is better than capitulating.... The Carrizo could lose a lot if I give up.... But hell, you only live, and die, once!!!!" When Braun contacted other officials at the Department of Fish and Game as well as the Nature Conservancy about "several public misstatements she believed [her boss] had made about federal grazing law," he found out and suspended her. Braun appealed the suspension, but on February 15, 2005, her appeal was denied. Braun remained in touch with Bureau of Land Management officials concerning issues related to management of the Carrizo Plain and was repeatedly reprimanded for it. As a result, she told friends, she was certain she would be fired from the Bureau. Braun forwarded the disciplinary memos she continued to receive to officials at the Department of Fish and Game and the Nature Conservancy. She wrote, "I will no longer be participating in this mess.... I will not take being treated like a whipping girl..." The next day she put a .38 caliber pistol to her head and pulled the trigger. Committed Suicide, May 2, 2005.

The Carrizo Plain is an incredible, but very fragile area in central California - the last natural home of the California Kit Fox, wintering Sand Hill Cranes, and native California prairie grass. I guess we shouldn't be too surprised that the Bush Interior Department would decide that it must be destroyed.

Go read and reflect on the rest of the people Nick has added to his list. It will be a very long list of those who spent decades trying to protect and serve the citizens of the United States but found that the Mogol hordes that have taken over our government are only interested in looting and trashing the place.

Posted by Mary at November 28, 2005 01:00 AM | US Politics | Technorati links |

there was an article in the new york times today about grasslands in the west and the prograzing folks at blm and ex-blmers who claim cattle on the land is good for the land. i major in ecology and i have not found any studies that say this is true. there are differences in land, so what is good for one place may not be good for another but the western grasslands should not be grazed the way they are. i would like to know where the studies are that support this, or is this more bush pseudoscience? i am very sorry to hear this woman committed suicide, though just reading between the lines here it seems like it was not really about grazing but that her disagreeing with grazing made her boss act aggressively toward her. that is such a bush admin tactic, but usually just with words. if this boss was suspending her for telling him he was wrong then he was harassing her, maybe not in a legal sense (I am no lawyer) but to make her be silent. I also read in several papers about endangered animals being deliberately killed or poisoned and this is happening to kit foxes and other animals that ranchers don't like. it's a war on the environment that we have to stop somehow.

Posted by: Josh Roberts at December 1, 2005 03:21 PM

Just run out the workers who care about the land. How many has it been? In 2001 the BLM state director of Idaho had to resign, a woman of course. Kate Cannon moved from her monument to a NPS job at Grand Canyon. People with their ATVs didn't like the prohibitions she placed on them. Another woman out of BLM. Interestingly a woman heads up BLM now. She has called for an investigation into Braun's death, and let's hope there is some justice. I couldn't help but notice the tall, strong physical types, all nice looking that BLM hires. So why don't they like them after a while? Brains behind those blue eyes? Will Gale Norton and Kathleen Clarke identify with Marlene Braun, the good public servant, or will they, as part of the Bush admin, sweep this under the rug. We all know what is going on in California. Will the DOI's investigators want to know?

Posted by: Patty at December 2, 2005 01:55 AM

When is there going to be accountability for these purges and even deaths? Ron Huntsinger, instead of being removed from responsibilities in the BLM pending investigation, is being put on new projects. He is picking the Carrizo Advisory Committee in a week or so, and supposedly isn't going to change it, but keeping his word isn't one of Ron's strong suits. It doesn't seem to be something the federal government is big on these days. Whatever happened to honor?

Posted by: Helen at December 3, 2005 07:20 AM

Everyone who works for BLM in CA knows that Marlene is not alone in being bullied. She is the only one who took her life, but there are employees up and down the state who are getting the same kind of relentless punishment for trying to do their jobs. The DOI OIG is investigating personnel issues, first in Bakersfield, but probably in a lot of places. I hope there are not more Fallen Legions. Why can CA BLM do this with impunity? I think partly because there are such confusing policies for employees who try to report this stuff, but also, who is going to go to alternative dispute resolution or work with HR in Sacramento when they are part of the problem? Are you going to complain to Jim Abbott about your treatment when he is probably the guy who is winking while field managers do it? The OIG needs to start in Sacramento, and work its way down to Bakersfield, if you ask me. The trail of bread crumbs may have been eaten along the way, but someone can figure out how to get out of the forest.

Posted by: Kerry at December 18, 2005 05:28 AM

Information was found below on a website. This is the Federal way and what they came up with. Since the case is now out of Federal hands a civil suit can be filed in state court which I heard is being done. Read article below;

A former Bureau of Land Management supervisor and field manager in Hollister, Calif., was fined and was sentenced to three years probation for using his government charge card to obtain nearly $18,000 in federal funds for personal use.

Robert E. Beehler, 57, was ordered to pay full restitution and was fined $5,000 for his theft and cover-up scheme.

From early 2000 through July 2003, Beehler used the government charge cards and checks drawn on his charge card account to make personal purchases totaling at least $17,939, according to the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of California. Beehler made the checks payable to family members and others, and forged endorsements of them, the attorney's office said.

Beehler would then submit fraudulent vouchers claiming that the funds were for legitimate purchases.

The case was investigated by the Interior Department's Inspector General Office and was prosecuted by U.S. Attorney Michelle Rodriguez.

Beehler's actions were "unfortunate," said John Dearing, a spokesman for the Bureau of Land Management. He would not comment further on the situation other than to say that the agency has always trained employees on proper use of credit cards.

"We've had ethics training, particularly for upper management, on what can or can't be done," Dearing said. "[The training] is for their own information and also so that they can have oversight over their own employees. And of course we do audits on the system."

Posted by: Jim at December 20, 2005 06:33 PM

It's New Year's eve. What will change in 2006? I hope we'll see more courage on the part of people who are unhappy with the Bush Administration's policies (Democrats, Independents and Republicans!)stand up for principles like civil rights, including freedom from harassment in the workplace, which seems to be an issue everywhere one turns; for the Geneva Convention that has protected service men and women in war from the use of torture; against what the admin calls "torture lite," as if there was any such thing (is this the Ivan the Terrible presidency or maybe just the Tudor dynasty redux?); for the environment so we can breathe clean air, drink clean water, take our kids to places like Sequoia National Park and the Carrizo Plain National Monument; for the return of our vets from an illegal and unjustified war; for justice! I hope this is the year legislators who have not had courage get booted out! I hope more Americans vote, especially the ones who are unemployed and have been for years now. I hope this is the year Ron Huntsinger becomes unemployed at the BLM and that someone who is kinder and who knows how to dial 911 gets put in his place. I have a lot of hope!

Posted by: Cora at December 31, 2005 07:51 AM

Happy New Year 2006! I hope we begin to care. What I see in so many of the Fallen Legion stories is the lack of care. Didn't Ron Huntsinger have a responsibility to exercise care as a boss, to call 911 as a reasonable person would? I don't wish this guy ill, but I do think we need accountability. With all of those who "fell" in 2005, there are those of us out here who will stand for them. God Bless!

Posted by: Jack at January 1, 2006 06:50 AM

I find myself pulling out old tapes of Tracy Chapman...
Somewhere compassion go lost in the equation and the right of civil discord in other words to not agree civilly. And were we not all promised "compassionate conservatism". So why was this woman pushed against a wall and why did she fear for her liveliehood? And ... I always thought the locals ie Coroner etc had the call first to the crime scene and it was preserved until determinations were made to cause of death :reaks of the same scenario in the mines of West Virginia.

Posted by: anonymous at January 6, 2006 12:31 AM