Thursday, June 24, 2010

Inspector General Asked to Investigate Flyover Party for General Douglas Burnett's Retirement

June 24, 2010
Honorable Gordon S. Heddell
The Inspector General
United States Department of Defense
Arlington, Virginia 20301-1900 via fax to 703-604-8567

Re: Florida National Guard (FNG) Standards of Official Conduct Investigation --

Dear General Heddell:

1. In today’s St. Augustine Record, it is reported that the Florida National Guard (FNG) will stage a flyover of two F-15s and two F-22s on Saturday, June 26, 2010 at Camp Blanding. See enclosures. That’s four expensive aircraft, including two Stealth Raptors.

2. Why? Because a FNG general is retiring. This makes for one expensive party.

3. I object. I request that you investigate. I have asked FNG for copies of any EIS (including carbon footprint analysis) and of the cost projection. See enclosure, saying FNG will answer “next week.” This is unacceptable.

4. This flyover boondogggler appears to be waste, fraud, and abuse. There are at fifty State National Guard commanding generals. If every one holds a flyover party every time there is a personnel change – along with every single other general officer in the U.S. military -- that is quite a lot of money. Those defending these flyovers may claim they are “training.” This is casuistry. If the General’s purpose is to project an image of hubris, extravagance and arrogance, he has succeeded. In a nation where people go hungry and live without homes, General Burnett should be told that such waste is inappropriate, and should be ordered to cancel the flyover. As you know, “immense expense is mainly in defense” (as former Congresswoman Patricia Schroeder once sang in concert with “The Capitol Steps” comedy troupe, to the tune of “The Rain in Spain,” from the musical comedy, “My Fair Lady.”

6. I attended the Gulf War victory parade in Washington, D.C. in 1991 and was proud of and enjoyed that flyover.

7. But these are tough economic times and we don’t have money to waste any longer.

8. The next time America wins a war, by all means hold a flyover.

9. In the meantime, to prevent promiscuous consumption of fossil fuels, to avoid needless emission of greenhouse gases, to save energy and to save federal funds, please prepare a programmatic audit, examine the data and kindly recommend that no more flyovers should be held over mere sporting events or personnel changes.

10. Will you please determine whether the Standards of Official Conduct were violated by this flyover?

11. In particular, is the decision to hold a flyover a gross waste of federal funds, an appearance of impropriety, or a conflict of interest? Who decides to hold flyovers?

12. Isn’t the decision to hold the flyover a slap to hard-working Americans who will pay the costs of General Burnett’s flyover party with federal funds?

13. How many flyovers are held by the military annually, and at what total costs?

14. Who is responsible for changing the wasteful management culture of DoD to stop wasteful flyovers and to command respect for greenhouse gas reduction?

15. What are the environmental effects of flyovers on Global Warming?

16. I have taken the liberty of sharing this complaint with General Burnett and the news media.

17. It is hoped that General Burnett will show greater sensitivity and cancel the flyover out of respect for the large numbers of unemployed and underemployed Americans and Floridians. If not, I request that disciplinary action be considered during the next 24 hours.

18. FNG’s refusal to answer my questions makes this complaint necessary and proper. See enclosure.

19. General Burnett’s staff seems to prefer stonewalling to substance. “Next week,” indeed! To whom do they think they’re talking. General Burnett & Co. work for us. This discriminatory good-ole-boy network must learn to be just stewards of federal funds.

20. Therefore, because of the disrespect that General Burnett has shown for the public’s rights under the Freedom of Information Act, will you please take action today? Will you please order General Burnett to preserve, protect and provide copies of all documents on the flyover and related matters in my FOIA request?

Sincerely yours,

Clean Up City of St. Augustine, Florida
Box 3084
St. Augustine, Florida 32085-3084

Enclosures (2)

c: Honorable Barack Obama
Honorable Rahm Emmanuel
Honorable Bill Nelson
Honorable Eric Holder
Honorable Carl Levin
Honorable John McCain
Honorable Ike Skelton
Honorable Buck McKeon
Honorable Adam Smith
Honorable Roscoe Barlett
Major General Douglas Burnett

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