Exposed: Horse Hater “Dinky” Zinke’s shell game to undermine Interior career employees and civil servants

by as published on Western Values Project

Interior Inspector General’s report released on “Dinky’s” reassignments

“Can’t afford to be surrounded by staff smarter than me, could make me look like a DINK!”

The Interior’s Inspector General released a report on Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke’s politically motivated efforts to reassign career civil servants at the department. The report found that there was no plan or reason for the reassignments, which follow a long list of other ethical lapses by the Secretary.

According to the report, of the 31 reassigned employees who were interviewed, only 8 had positive perceptions of their reassignment, while “17 senior executives selected for reassignment questioned whether these reassignments were political or punitive, based on a prior conflict with DOI leadership, or on the senior executive’s nearness to retirement. Many executives speculated that multiple reasons applied.” The report concluded that Interior officials should create a plan with criteria, document the reassignment process and consult with department leadership among other recommendations.

Western Values Project’s Executive Director Chris Saeger released the following statement on the report:

“This report confirms what we already knew – Ryan Zinke thinks there’s one set of rules for himself and another for everyone else.

Secretary Zinke has failed at just about every turn as the nation’s leading land manager, and this report is just one of many examples of his attempts to politicize the way our nation’s outdoor heritage is cared for. Much like the lack of documentation on his questionable travel expenses, Zinke seems to be skirting the law by failing to document his actions.

What is really hard to understand is how someone like Zinke is now attacking the very civil servants and career employees that ensure our national parks and public lands are maintained and managed now and for future generations.

Given his continued contempt for the career employees he now manages and how he’s stacked the deck for special interests, it is not hard to imagine that morale at the department is at rock bottom.”

Stacking the deck at Interior:

Western Values Project (WVP) has been documenting Interior’s revolving-door between lobbyist and appointees under Zinke at www.departmentofinfluence.org.

After a WVP Freedom of Information request, Interior released of the names of the Executive Resources Board (ERB), which was entirely comprised of political appointees until Interior included two career employees in November 2017. Interior has not released the current makeup of the board to determine if it is indeed ‘nonpartisan.’

One of the new employees on the board had previously been appointed to a Deputy Director position under President Bush and was involved in several controversial decisions, including mountaintop removal, that benefited industry. The other new board member was part of Interior’s efforts to scrap the 2015 hydraulic fracturing rule.

WVP filed suit against Interior in federal court to force the disclosure of documents related to the board’s work.

Contempt for career civil servants:

Zinke called civil servants ‘serpents’ when suggesting he’d like to privatize campgrounds across the nation’s national parks.

He told an oil industry group that he had ‘30 percent of the crew that’s not loyal to the flag.’

Zinke threatened to eliminate 4,000 employees at Interior through draconian budget cuts. A memo from the acting director of the Bureau Land Management (BLM) was sent to employees saying that they should expect to lose 1,000 positions by 2017.

The IG investigation was opened in September 2017 regarding the “extraordinary and politically suspect reassignment of dozens of Senior Executive Service (SES) members.”

Criticism grows over Ryan “Dinky” Zinke’s pick to head wildlife service

“”Putting Combs in charge of the Fish and Wildlife Service is like appointing an arsonist as the town fire marshal,”

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke is appointing a top critic of endangered species protections the head of the agency charged with protecting the critters, while moving to remove protections from nearly 300 animals.

Susan Combs was supposed to serve as Zinke’s undersecretary for policy, but because of holdups in the Senate, he has chosen to appoint her as the acting head of the Fish and Wildlife Service.

The decision was taken last month, but news outlets began pointing out her hostility toward the Endangered Species Act on Wednesday. The Washington Post cited a statement in which she likened an animal being placed on the endangered list to a “Scud missile” — the weapon of choice of former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein.

The Interior Department said Combs will serve as the acting assistant secretary for Fish and Wildlife, until a deal can be reached to confirm her as the agency’s top policy official.

But that didn’t stop conservation groups and activists from pointing out Combs’ lack of compatibility with the goals of the Endangered Species Act.

“Putting Combs in charge of the Fish and Wildlife Service is like appointing an arsonist as the town fire marshal,” said Stephanie Kurose, an endangered species specialist with the Center for Biological Diversity.

The group is suing the Trump administration for the harm posed to species by President Trump’s proposed border wall.

The group on Wednesday used the media attention gathering against Combs to underscore a proposed rule that it argues would remove protections from almost 300 species.

The proposed rule was sent to the Office of Management and Budget on Monday for preliminary review. The rule would remove the blanket application for the Endangered Species Act’s section 4(d) decisions, which are used by the Fish and Wildlife Service to designate a species as threatened. The 4(d) designation is typically one step away from listing a species as endangered under the law.

“The Trump administration just issued a death sentence to nearly 300 threatened species,” said Noah Greenwald, the conservation group’s endangered species director. “If enacted, this rule could be the end for iconic wildlife like the northern spotted owl and southern sea otter.”

Welfare Ranchers Get More Grazing Flexibility With New Program

as published on KUER.org

“More flexibility is code for relaxing or eliminating environmental safeguards and standards that are mandatory…”

Following Secretary of Interior Ryan Zinke‘s repeated calls for more management of public lands, this spring the Bureau of Land Management is giving certain ranchers more say and options in grazing their cattle on public lands.

Say there’s a spring with lots of rain and the grass is long and lush into June. A rancher might want to let his cows graze on those lands longer than in a dry year. Right now, the rancher probably can’t do that. But in test projects in Montana, Idaho, Wyoming and Colorado that’s changing.

“We get so tied up in rigid format and regulation, that we just couldn’t respond like we needed to,” said Ken Crane, a field manager with the BLM in Burley, Idaho. “It would frustrate everybody.”

Crane says flexibility is especially important after wildfires, when cows may need to be moved around.

But some environmental groups are skeptical.

“More flexibility is code for relaxing or eliminating environmental safeguards and standards that are mandatory,” said Erik Molvar with Western Watersheds Project.

The BLM is working with 11 ranchers across the West to pilot the program.

http://kuer.org/post/ranchers-get-more-grazing-flexibility-new-program#stream/0

BLM employees ordered to wear propaganda badges

Source:  Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility

New Uniform “Vision Cards” Display Images of Oil Rig and Livestock Grazing

Washington, DC — U.S. Bureau of Land Management employees are now under orders to wear “Vision Cards” on their uniforms displaying official maxims, according to Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER).  These cards are little message boards with aphoristic statements about vision, mission, values, and guiding principles of the BLM.

Vision card grazing   image card

“The person of federal employees should not be used for political messaging,” stated PEER Executive Director Jeff Ruch, noting the Vison Cards’ similarity to propaganda placards used by totalitarian regimes. “This is supposed to be the Bureau of Land Management not Mao’s Red Guard.”

The two Vision Cards for uniform wear repeat language from the agency website.  The cards –

  • Display the image of an oil rig and what appears to be livestock grazing, in contrast to the official BLM logo which shows a tree, river, and mountain;
  • Reference serving “stakeholders” and “customers” but do not mention serving the public; and
  • Declare that the purpose of improving “the health and productivity of the land” is “to support the BLM multiple-use mission.”

It is not clear from where the order to wear the Vison Cards emanates.  BLM has no permanent director nor has the Trump White House even named a nominee.  During the past year, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke and a small band of political appointees in DC have dictated BLM policy.  While reports of the mandatory card display have reached PEER from the West, the organization is still trying to determine whether the order is national in scope.

Read the rest of this news release HERE.

Activists: Government plan to kill wild horses is all a profit scheme

photo:  Carol Walker

Source:  Salon.com

Activists: Government plan to kill wild horses is all a profit scheme

Trump’s Interior Secretary has some ugly plans for America’s wild animals

by Matthew Rozsa

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke has raised red flags for a number of reasons during his short tenure. He seems to care less about protecting America’s national monuments than allowing them to be exploited by special interest groups and has been caught up in one corruption scandal after another. You would think that it’d be difficult for a man like that to do anything else that could make people who don’t bleed money-green to despise him.

Unfortunately, the lives of 50,000 wild horses and burros are in Zinke’s hands, because Congress is preparing to negotiate appropriations for the Interior Department and whether to allow for the unlimited slaughter of wild horses and burros.

It all stems back to the Wild Free Roaming Horses and Burros Act of 1971 a bill that offered protections to the horses and burros that roam the United States — and, of course, was immediately opposed by special interests in Big Agriculture who were determined to erode its protections. The interests’ first major success in doing so occurred in 2004 after Sen. Conrad Burns, R-Mont., attached a provision to an omnibus bill that removed most of the legal protections established in 1971 and privatized the animals themselves.

That’s where Zinke comes into play. In 2009, the Montana State House introduce a bill to build a horse slaughterhouse in the state at a time the country had been two years without one.

Zinke wanted to bring slaughter back so ranchers and others in the horse business could dispose of their unwanted, unhealthy or inconvenient horses quickly and for a profit,” Susan Wagner of Equine Advocates and Debbie Coffey of Wild Horse Freedom Federation told Salon by email. “The [Montana] bill did not pass but fast forward to today, and now all these animals are facing extinction. The Interior Department’s budget being slashed by more than $1 billion also doesn’t help.

READ THE REST OF THIS ARTICLE HERE.

 

 

 

‘UGH!’: Zinke’s wife’s travel caused headaches for Interior staff

Source:  politico.com

Newly released records shed light on the outsize profile Lola Zinke has established compared with the typical Cabinet secretary’s spouse.

Secretary Ryan Zinke bringing his wife Lola along on official trips isn’t illegal as long as the government doesn’t pay for her expenses. | Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke’s wife has frustrated department staffers by saddling them with extra work when she traveled with him on official business, according to new records that a liberal watchdog group says uncover the potential misuse of government resources.

The records document Lola Zinke’s last-minute requests to join high-level dinners and additions to the guest list for a conservative group’s event near their home in Southern California earlier this year. The Western Values Project filed a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit last month to force Interior to release more than 100 pages of documents related to Lola Zinke’s trips with her husband and interactions with Interior staff.

Shared first with POLITICO, the documents shed new light on the outsize profile Lola Zinke has established compared with the typical Cabinet secretary’s spouse, including her dictating people to invite to a town hall hosted by the conservative Young America’s Foundation for her husband.

New emails also reveal a celebratory dinner the Zinkes attended that was organized in part by a major GOP donor who gave heavily to Ryan Zinke’s congressional campaigns. And they show Interior staffers had to accommodate a last-minute request for her to join the secretary at an official dinner with Alaska’s governor. The records cover two trips Lola Zinke joined in the first three months of her husband’s tenure as well as some other interactions with Interior staff, such as coordinating her attendance at a White House briefing for Cabinet members’ spouses.

While the department says Lola Zinke paid her own way, the records show Interior used staff time to coordinate some of her activities while traveling with her husband. And the trips gave her access to high-level politicians and GOP activists and donors who could benefit her as a political operator in her own right.

“These emails show that the leadership at the Department of Interior treats basic ethical standards like an inconvenience,” Western Values Project Executive Director Chris Saeger said. “If Secretary Zinke is willing to be so sloppy with something as elementary as this, then God only knows how they’re handling big decisions about energy and public lands behind closed doors.”

READ THE REST OF THIS STORY HERE.

Interior Department Spent $138,670 On A Door For Zinke’s Office

Secretary of the Interior, Ryan Zinke

Source:  Huffington Post

The office features a slew of taxidermied animals and a knife collection.

WASHINGTON — The Interior Department spent $138,670 on a door at Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke’s office, according to records first uncovered by The Associated Press and reviewed by HuffPost.

The department awarded the contract to Conquest Solutions LLC, a Greenbelt, Maryland-based company that specializes in automation systems. A contract summary available online lists the purchase as “Secretary’s Door.”

Conquest Solutions could not be reached for comment late Thursday. The Interior Department did not immediately respond to HuffPost’s request for comment Thursday.

However, department spokeswoman Heather Swift did confirm the purchase to the AP, saying that Zinke was not aware of the contract and that the purchase is part of a long-running modernization of the historic headquarters building in Washington, D.C.

READ THE REST OF THIS ARTICLE HERE.

Ryan Zinke’s meeting with Protect the Harvest’s Forrest Lucas & Dave Duquette included execs from Proof Research, the Montana gun company that Zinke owns shares in

Source:  Wild Horse Freedom Federation

Then Congressman from Montana, Ryan Zinke, and Senator Steve Daines at the Safari Club International Convention in Las Vegas, Nevada. From left to right Ryan Zinke, Mike Degerness, Monty Howe, Scott Campbell, Dennis Hickman, John Clements and Steve Daines. (2/6/16)

by Debbie Coffey, V.P. and Dir. of Wild Horse Affairs, Wild Horse Freedom Federation

Records below indicate that on April 11, 2017, Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke spent half an hour with billionaire Forrest Lucas, owner of Lucas Oil, who is also the Founder and Executive Director of Protect the Harvest, a non-profit that is pushing for horse slaughter to be reinstated in the U.S.

Dave Duquette, an employee of Protect the Harvest, and Ramona Hage Morrison, a “property rights” advocate, were listed as “consultants” for Forrest Lucas.  Ramona Hage Morrison is the daughter of the late Wayne Hage, a leader of the “Sagebrush Rebellion” in Nevada.

Other attendees included Larry Murphy (CEO), KK Jense (President & Founder), John Clements (Dir. of Research & Development) of Proof Research, a company that manufactures and sells firearms, that was established in Zinke’s hometown of Whitefish, MT.  Also attending was Brian Kelly of BK Strategies, Proof Research’s registered lobbyist in Washington, D.C.

In a Huffington Post article titled “Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke Held Onto Undisclosed Shares in a Gun Company,” it states:

“PROOF Research Inc. was first established in 2011 in Zinke’s hometown of Whitefish, Montana, under the name Extreme Precision Armaments Inc., according to state of Montana business records.”

“Zinke provided consulting services for the company in 2012, according to local Montana news reports and a disclosure he filed as a candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives two years later listing $16,975 in compensation.”

READ THE REST OF THIS ARTICLE AND SEE DOCUMENTS HERE.

Wild-Horse Overpopulation Is a Lie

Letter to the Editor of Mesquite Local News

BLM’s Big Lie: The “overpopulation” of wild horses is a concocted “crisis”. The government doesn’t have a wild-horse problem — wild horses have a government problem.


Arbitrary management level (AML):  The maximum number of wild horses that BLM declares the Western range can sustain — 26,715 — is a political construct.  Per 49,349 square miles of wild-horse habitat, the upper bound of the AML establishes a maximum stocking density of 1 wild horse per 2 square miles!  However, BLM manages down to the low bound of the AML — 16,310.  That creates a stocking density of 1 wild horse per 3 square miles!

Sparsely populated, widely dispersed:  Many herds are restricted even more severely.  Here are stocking densities to which BLM restricts herds in Nevada.

1 wild horse per  3,102  acres  — 5    square miles  —  Antelope Complex

1 wild horse per  3,566  acres  — 5½ square miles  —  Triple B Complex

1 wild horse per  6,606  acres  — 10  square miles  —  Eagle herd

1 wild horse per  9,591  acres  — 15  square miles  —  Silver King herd

Contrast with livestock density:  BLM allows 1 cow-with-calf pair (or 5 sheep) per 76 acres, which means 8 cow-calf pairs (or 40 sheep) per square mile.  Further, within dedicated wild-horse habitats, livestock are awarded most of the grazing slots (AUMs).  Examples from Nevada:

94% of AUMs to livestock — Triple B Complex

96% of AUMs to livestock — Antelope Complex

Normative annual herd-growth = at most, 5%:  Gregg, LeBlanc, and Johnston (2014) found the average birth rate among wild-horse herds to be about 20%; but 50% of foals perish.  The population-gain from surviving foals (10%) minus a conservative estimate of adult-mortality (5%) equals a normative herd-growth rate of 5%.

Fraudulent figures on the range:  BLM’s herd-growth figures are falsified.  Repeatedly, we find BLM reporting one-year increases that are beyond what is biologically possible.  Some examples from Nevada:

260%  —     52 times the norm — Shawave Mountains

293%  —     59 times the norm — Diamond Hills South

418%  —     84 times the norm — Black Rock Range East *

*  BLM claimed the Black Rock Range East’s population grew from 88 horses to 456 horses in one year, an increase of 368.  If so, to overcome foal-mortality (50%) and adult-mortality (at least 5%), that would mean each filly and mare gave birth to 17 foals.

Fraudulent figures off the range:  A comprehensive report was recently issued following a 5-year investigation by Wild Horse Freedom Federation.  It revealed that BLM has been publishing fictitious figures regarding the number of wild horses removed from the range and now supposedly boarded in private pastures.  BLM is paying, but where are the horses?  http://wildhorsefreedomfederation.org/white-paper/

No to birth control, no to euthanasia, no to slaughter:  The population-explosion exists only on BLM’s falsified spreadsheets.

Marybeth  Devlin

Sec. of the Interior, Ryan Zinke, withholds info from lawmakers while launching massive overhaul of the Department of the Interior

Rep. Raul Grijalva, D-Ariz and Rep. Donald McEachin, D-Va., “sent Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke a letter on Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2018, accusing Zinke of withholding key information from lawmakers while launching a massive overhaul of his department. The letter demanded that Zinke freeze the reorganization until he provides more information to Congress, which has the final say over the plan.”

FILE–In this Feb. 9, 2018, file photo,U.S. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke speaks during an conservation announcement at the Western Conservation and Hunting Expo Friday in Salt Lake City. On Monday, Feb. 12, 2018, the Interior Department released budget documents showing Zinke plans to press ahead with a massive overhaul of his department, including a plan to relocate some officials from Washington to the West and creating a new organizational map that mostly ignores state boundaries. Rick Bowmer, file AP Photo
Interior to implement massive overhaul despite criticism
READ THE REST OF THIS ARTICLE HERE.