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On October 3rd, Senator John Kerry will host a field hearing at the Massachusetts State House to explore the effects of of the catch share program and to interview Dr Jane Lubchenco, Administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

We have some suggestions for the hearing and the  interview of Dr Jane Lubchenco:

Call for the termination of any federal employee responsible for obstruction of justice, fraud, embezzlement, or any other felonious act.

Refer all pertinent documents to the Office of Special Counsel in the US Department of Justice for investigation and possible prosecution. NOAA has repeatedly produced documents that appear to absolve itself of any wrongdoing by employees. Repeatedly, documents have been produced to contradict NOAA findings. The Office of Special Counsel in the DOJ exists to investigate misconduct in the Executive Branch. NOAA has proved incapable of cleaning up its own house. Its time to invite in someone who can do so.

Publicly thank Richard Gaines of the Gloucester Times for his dogged pursuit of abuses by NOAA’s Office of Law Enforcement (OLE).

Address the shredding of documents relevant to an ongoing Inspector General investigation and get an explanation as to why no one has been fired including Dale J. Jones Jr, former director of NOAA’s OLE. Commerce Department Inspector General Todd Zinser wrote to NOAA chief administrator, Jane Lubchenco, in an April 2, 2010 memo, that the document shredding of November 20, 2009 involved the destruction of “75-80 percent of the files in the office of Dale J. Jones Jr.”

  • “In addition to not complying with the above-reference records disposition regulation and policy, the shredding implicates an appearance that it was done to conceal information from the OIG (Office of the Inspector General)”
  • “About six of law enforcement headquarters’ 40 employees” contributed files for shredding.
  • “Such office-wide shredding was not a routine function for the Office of Law Enforcement; rather, the director and deputy director (Mark Spurrier) told us this was the first such an exercise in their 10-plus years with OLE.”
  • At the time of the shredding party, the OIG was four months into an investigation alleging, “heavy-handed and unfair enforcement activities,” against the New England fishing industry.

This shredding party allowed law enforcement agents, in an agency that was under an ongoing review by an Inspector General’s office (triggered by numerous complaints of punitive abuse and mismanagement) to destroy whatever evidence of what may have looked improper or have been improper.  The shredding violated regulations from multiple federal agencies including those of NOAA and the Department of Commerce as well as those governing the retention and management of federal agency records. That is horrible. Allowing that to occur with an agency, that is authorized to seize cash and property under civil asset forfeiture statutes that do not require proof of guilt, only more than mere suspicion, is particularly egregious given that the law enforcement officials were potentially in charge of destroying any evidence of whether there was a reasonable belief of criminality. And since the onus to prove the innocence of the property is on the owner, not the law enforcement agency, it gives the law enforcement officials an unchecked and unsupervised ability to seize property. That is both stupid and wrong.

Reopen the investigations into the US Coast Guard Administrative Law Judges (ALJs) and grant the availability for independent review to anyone who lost a case and wants review. We know that two different ALJs (Rosemary Denson and Jeffie Massey) have registered complaints that imply a manifestly unfair legal process. We know that USCG ALJ Judge Parlen McKenna and George Jordan (a member of Chief Administrative Law Judge Joseph Ingolia’s staff) were scheduled to take trips to Kuala Lumpur, paid for by what appears to be asset forfeiture funds seized by the OLE and subject to the USCG ALJ’s sanctioning. It also appears that questionable (possibly much worse) ex parte contact occurred between investigators and ruling judicial bodies.

Integrate Brian J. Rothschild into NOAA’s tactical plotting of the controversial catch share program. The New England fishing industry should have an involved, informed, and intelligent voice to shoot down any faulty and fatuous NOAA plots.

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1 Response » to “Suggestions for October 3rd US Senate Field Hearing on catch shares and NOAA law enforcement forfeiture abuse”

  1. Dick Grachek says:

    Here are some ideas I put together along the lines of justification for the questions for Dr. Jane and friends at the Sen. Kerry hearing:


    “The people of this country, not special interest big money should be the source of all political power.” Sen. Paul Wellstone

    In a representative government, the people have the right to know exactly how policies, laws, rules and regulations are arrived at, and most importantly, if there is any undue influence in that process. Either we have that right, or we do not have a representative government. If the people are left out and the laws and regulations are written by big business through their influence on agencies and bureaucrats, then we do not have a democracy, we have an oligarchy.

    An open system of government is a vulnerable system and it must be protected. We are obligated to know how (or if) our government works. It’s not enough to hide behind complicity and toss out the cliché …you don’t want to know how laws, or sausages, are made.
    During this time of globalized greed and big business run governments, we’d better know how our laws—and how our sausages are made. Otherwise we’ll continue to be economically devastated by Wall Street run government and poisoned by the big business industrialized food industry that makes our sausage. We have the right to expect healthy sausage for our money, and as citizens in a democracy, we have the right to a voice in our legislative process.

    Our system is based on laws and it deserves and requires much more than accepting “…you don’t want to know”. There are undoubtedly many entities (govt. and non-govt.) that don’t want us to know how laws are made; but it is our responsibility to ourselves and to each other to be vigilant and make sure we know how the laws and regulations got there.

    When the motion for discovery was refused by Judge Rya Zobel in the Amendment 16 lawsuit proceedings, the people were deprived of their right to know how this catch share program, proving so detrimental to the fishing communities, came to be an amendment to the Magnuson Stevens Act, an Act which was designed to protect the fishing communities, as well as the fish.

    People have the right to know how a system was installed that costs them their traditional livelihoods, deprives the public of a healthy food source, and bets the stability of a vital resource on the integrity of a few ceo’s by privatizing, commodifying, and consolidating “ownership” of the fish into the hands of the well capitalized.

    People have the right to know how the installment of a catch share system can skirt a legally required referendum, then get rammed through and approved by a regional fisheries council that is not at all representative of the majority of regional fishermen. With some glaring conflicts of interest council members chose the most detrimental allocation options for the majority of the fishing operations while at the same time benefiting a few groups with “insider” connections.

    People have the right to know how a program can get approved and implemented in record time (months after Jane Lubchenco’s decree promising catch shares for all— like it or not…) and without the legally required socio-economic data, and how it can become law in spite of the protests of the majority of the people most affected by it.

    Moreover, people have the right to know when Conservation Law Foundation, Environmental Defense Fund, Pew and the Walton family got voted in as the scientists, analysts, authors, initiators, and champion defenders of national fisheries policy. When did that election take place? Was it a special election? Where was it held and most importantly…who voted? We have the right to know.

    If there was ever a question about whether we live in a country with a government run by “special interest big money”, the systematic dismantling of the independent small boat fishery (most likely, in order to clear the way for the industrial exploitation of the outer continental shelf) should answer that question.

    If these regulations are actually about the fish and fishing community, and not in the service of corporate agendas, why would National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, Environmental Defense Fund, Conservation Law Foundation, Pew, and Walton Foundation, all seeded with corporate money, need to spend tens of millions of those dollars, first to push catch shares as a panacea for the fishing industry, and then, with a battery of lawyers, defend their catch shares in court against legal action brought by fishermen suing to uphold the spurned MSA statute requirement for a 2/3 referendum vote? If the Amendment 16 catch share program was indeed so effective and beneficial, and in accordance with the will of the people —would spending all that money and effort be necessary?

    We have the right to know what these corporate funded “conservation groups” are doing in the middle of our fisheries regulations. We have the right to know how they got there—who let them in. We have the right to know what these people are up to.

    When Judge Zobel used the remarkable argument that …a default tenet of administrative law is that, in close cases [such as the Amendment 16 suit], the administration is …always right, she denied the “the people of this country” their “source of political power”.

    When she accepted the semantic chicanery in the argument that catch shares are not ITQ’s but voluntary sector cooperatives and ruled against the fishermen’s suit which demanded that NOAA comply with the Magnuson Stevens Act Standard requiring a 2/3 referendum vote by industry for an ITQ program, she denied the “the people of this country” their “source of political power”.

    Her rulings handed power to the “special interest big money” crowd of lawyers defending Amendment 16 and catch shares, which places the Dept. of Justice in the same camp with NOAA’s corporate funded environmentalist “partners”.

    When Judge Zobel denied the motion for discovery, the people’s right to know the developmental history of this clearly illegal and hastily installed catch shares scheme, and exactly who is behind it, was denied. In that one stroke, she sanctioned and made official a mysterious sausage-law-making process; and in denying the people’s right to know the truth about the fisheries regulatory process, the payola corporate-agenda-driven “environmentalist” Non-Government Organizations were, in effect, ordained as our fisheries scientists, analysts, lawmakers and regulators.

    These NGO “conservation groups” have infiltrated NOAA and the regional councils, and as they all serve their “corporate partners”, the NGO transformer robots of “special interest big money” have become “…the source of all political power”.

    Dick Grachek

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