Jes Hathaway is the editor in chief of National Fisherman magazine and NationalFisherman.com.
Thursday, 17 February 2011
In some respects, the Gulf of Mexico oil spill must have looked like a blessing to Dr. Jane Lubchenco and her NOAA colleagues.
Of course, not right away, when no one knew what kind of toll it might take. But after the well was capped and wildlife seemed to have stayed afloat tolerably well, and tourism began to return to the coast, the federal agency ought to have looked upon the spill as a great public distraction from what their left hand was doing in the Northeast.
Just before the gulf spill, fishermen in New England were finally making headway after years of complaints that NOAA's enforcement arm was overzealous in its punitive measures against the fishing industry, from fishermen to a local auction house.
An internal review put Dale Jones, NOAA's top cop, under scrutiny, and he responded by shredding 75 percent of his own documents. Though his unauthorized "shredding party" was not found to be an obstruction of justice, it was not appropriate behavior, and he was punished by being reassigned to another six-figure post at the agency. Indeed, no one at NOAA has been fired or prosecuted more than a year after the investigation began.
Lubchenco has flat-out refused to answer questions on the subject.
So what's to stop this all from happening again if the head of the agency takes a myopic view of widespread corruption?
I am keeping my fingers crossed (because that's my last option) that this story is finally breaking into the mainstream news.
Last night, CBS news reported on the investigation. It's a topic that most certainly falls under the jurisdiction of NBC Nightly News' "Fleecing of America."
Things go wrong in vast bureaucracies. You are bound to run across a bad egg from time to time. What we as taxpayers should not tolerate is the lack of accountability and consequences for what happened.
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