Saturday, September 07, 2019

Trump wants the national parks to generate revenue; critics see creeping privatization. (Yahoo News)

Here's an article from Yahoo News about that uniquely corporate notion that parks should pay for themselves.  '

This noisome notion is shared by St. Johns County Administrator MICHAEL DAVID WANCHICK, who has for years wanted to make beaches "pay for thsemselves." 

It's also shared by Flori-DUH Senator RICHARD LYNN SCOTT, who attempts to inflict this elephantine ukase for eight years ag Governor.

None of these clods expect police or fire to pay for themselves.  

This small group of willful men hate nature. 

We shall expose them and defeat them.

From Yahoo News:

Trump wants the national parks to generate revenue; critics see creeping privatization

WASHINGTON — “Our parks are literally crumbling,” Interior Secretary David Bernhardt said last week at a meeting of senior National Park Service (NPS) officials, repeating a theme he has sounded frequently since being confirmed earlier this year. Bernhardt described visiting a maintenance shed at Acadia National Park in coastal Maine where the grout between concrete blocks had worn away almost completely, he said, effectively creating new — and unwanted — windows.
Bernhardt used that story to illustrate a pervasive state of disrepair, which he claims can be fixed only with a $12 billion investment. Because that funding isn’t likely to materialize from Washington, Bernhardt believes that the Interior Department —which administers the nation’s public lands — must look elsewhere for new sources of revenue.
Supporters see creativity at work, the kind of collaboration between the private and public sectors that many have expected from President Trump, whether for national parks or international airports. But critics see little more than a strategically inflated figure meant to frighten the public into accepting corporate giveaways.
“We are begging Congress” for funds, Bernhardt said during last Tuesday’s meeting of the parks advisory council, even though he had supported the radical cuts Trump tried to force on the National Park Service.
Bernhardt’s remarks last week — delivered in the Interior Department’s penthouse, which is decorated by a recently restored 80-year-old Native American mural — made clear that the administration’s search for new revenue continues apace. Trump’s Interior Department has already considered raising entry fees to national parks. At the same time, the department has leased hundreds of thousands of acres to energy companies.
Interior Secretary David Bernhardt (Photo: Michael Brochstein/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)
Interior Secretary David Bernhardt (Photo: Michael Brochstein/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)
“If David Bernhardt gets his way, American families will pay more to access their birthright, because Trump's billionaire buddies and the special interests that made them rich will always come first in this administration,” says Chris Saeger, executive director of the Western Values Project, a not-for-profit organization that opposes the Trump administration.
The $12 billion in deferred maintenance has become a frequent talking point for members of the Trump administration. In June, Bernhardt and Vice President Mike Pence visited Yellowstone National Park. “Our national parks need more than $12 billion to repair aging infrastructure due to decades of inaction,” he said at the time, “and we are calling on Congress to support on a bipartisan basis the Trump administration’s proposal to address this vital need. It’s time to act.”
Critics, however, say the $12 billion number is vastly inflated, and is being used by the administration to advance radical measures that could include privatization of federal lands. The Interior Department has, for example, proposed an infrastructure fund that would “establish a dedicated revenue stream generated from federal energy leases and royalty payments.” Many of those leases would go to oil and gas producers eager to drill across the Western U.S., including near many national parks. Bernhardt is himself a former oil and gas lobbyist.
President Theodore Roosevelt, who created the national parks, often spoke of his love for unspoiled nature. By contrast, in his address to the national parks advisory council, Bernhardt spoke about parking lots that needed to be expanded to accommodate larger cars. There were several references to “enhancing” visitors’ experiences, as well as a reminder that the park service had always been “in the marketing business.”
Interior Department communications official Nicholas Goodwin said that nothing in Bernhardt’s comments should be taken as a hint of coming privatization efforts. Echoing those remarks, Goodwin said that Interior needed a “dedicated revenue stream” to address its multibillion-dollar maintenance backlog. And he defended the creation of an infrastructure fund seeded with proceeds of drilling and other energy-related activities (including potentially renewable energy projects) on federal lands.
“Our parks are one of our nation’s most treasured resources — restoring them will require every tool in the box,” Goodwin told Yahoo News.
Congress remains the best hope for national parks: A 2015 analysis by the nonpartisan Government Accountability Office found that a full 88 percent of park funding comes through the appropriations process, making that by far the most dedicated “revenue stream” that Bernhardt could hope for.
Cars at the Colorado National Monument. (Photo: Getty Images)
Cars at the Colorado National Monument. (Photo: Getty Images)
And yet when Trump proposed a budget in March that would have drastically cut funding for parks, Bernhardt praised the president for “an effort to restore fiscal sanity in Washington.” Three months later, he was in Yosemite with Pence, calling on Congress to fund the $12 billion repair shortfall.
Nicole Gentile, who directs the public lands program at the Center for American Progress, analyzed the $12 billion claim by looking through the National Park Service’s own data, in what appears to be the most concerted effort to figure out if that number represented the true cost of making necessary fixes in national parks.
It did not, Gentile concluded. She found that only $1.3 billion “is serious enough for the agency to consider it a priority for necessary maintenance.” A full half of the money Bernhardt and others have claimed they need for parks — $5.9 billion —would go to the repair of highways that run through or along the parks, like the George Washington Parkway in northern Virginia.
Another $389 million, Gentile found, was intended for facilities used by concessionaires, who run recreation, hotels and food services in national parks. “The NPS backlog should be understood in context and not used to undercut conservation or bolster calls for privatization,” Gentile and co-author Matt Lee-Ashley concluded.
Goodwin, the Interior official, disputed any suggestion that the condition of national parks had been intentionally mischaracterized. “We stand by those estimates,” he said.
The sway of concessionaires is also concerning to advocates of keeping public lands public. Earlier this summer, concessions giant Delaware North settled its lawsuit over several Yosemite place names — the most famous of these being the Ahwahnee and Wawona hotels — which it claimed it owned. Yosemite can use those names again, but only after the federal government paid Delaware North $12 million in a court settlement.
The case was an unwelcome reminder of the business side of public land management, and how complex arrangements allow private interests to encroach on what appears to be public property.
It also raised questions anew about Delaware North’s political influence. The company’s owner, Jeremy Jacobs, is Trump’s most generous donor in the Buffalo, N.Y., area. And earlier this year, Delaware North hired Brownstein Hyatt, the lobbying firm for which Bernhardt previously worked.
“Private companies are profiting off national parks that belong to all Americans — and they’re too often reaping the benefits without absorbing the full costs associated with operations,” Gentile told Yahoo News, calling Delaware North “a particularly egregious example of how concessionaires can manipulate a public good into a major private-sector handout.”
Then-Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke speaks at EPA headquarters last year. (Photo: Cliff Owen/AP)
Then-Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke speaks at EPA headquarters last year. (Photo: Cliff Owen/AP)
While concessions are necessary even in the wilderness, a recent article in the Kentucky Law Review argued that their proliferation has become “detrimental” to enjoyment of those parks as originally envisioned. Goodwin asserted that Delaware North would continue to operate in national parks, declining to say whether the Yosemite brouhaha changed anything about the corporation’s standing as a partner with the federal government.
Jacobs also sits on an Interior committee devoted to recreation. The panel was set up by Bernhardt’s predecessor, Ryan Zinke, who said upon its creation that he wanted to “continue the exponential growth of the American recreation sector.” Members of the committee include the chief executives of the American Fly Fishing Trade Association, a lobbying group, as well as Bass Pro Shops and Choice Hotels International.
David Vela, a senior National Park Service official, spoke during last Tuesday’s event about the need to “enhance recreation opportunities,” though he did not make exactly clear what he meant. Conservation groups like the Sierra Club have criticized Vela for approving off-road vehicle use near the Big Cypress National Preserve in Florida and the construction of a cellphone tower in Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming.
Trump is not the first president to seek private help for public land. The last Republican president before him, George W. Bush, faced an outcry in response to similar efforts, which in part reflect conservatives’ trust of private enterprise over the federal government.
“The idea of the NPS reaching into the private sector to fulfill its mission is not new and aligns with its history,” Dan Puskar, chief executive officer of the Public Lands Alliance, told Yahoo News. He added that he hoped any “engagement” with the private sector would be done “thoughtfully.”
Trump’s detractors say there is little thoughtful about his approach to public land management. In 2017, for example, he reversed a six-year ban on selling plastic water bottles in public parks, a move that had saved some 2 million bottles from being used. The rollback had long been sought by the bottled-water lobby, but that effort had had little luck until Trump came along.
As for the maintenance shed at Acadia that left such an impression on Bernhardt, its fate remains unclear. “I can't confirm to which building the secretary was referring,” Acadia management assistant John Kelly told Yahoo News, “but he did visit the park earlier this year.”
Resting at the top of a mountain in Acadia National Park. (Photo: Getty Images)


Pink Spoonbill said...

Since you consider yourself a strong environmentalist, I have to wonder why you would publicly dump on an article in FolioWeekly that generated very valuable, well-timed publicity and awareness for a group of volunteer citizen environmentalists who have been working for three years to stop development of sensitive land in danger of being decimated by developers - the Outpost. You seem miffed that the reporter said public comments took one hour when they took two. Try spending thousands of hours working to save a piece of land. Talking for three minutes about something you just learned about, and then trashing an interview of someone who has invested three years is actually damaging to the environment you profess to want to protect. You should be thanking FolioWeekly for bringing new supporters, new donors, and new email writers to the cause. If you're looking for a magazine to trash, go after Jacksonville Magazine who ran a hit piece on us 2.5 years ago, in the same issue they ran a $3500 ad for Gate Lands. You could be a lot more effective if you didn't just lash out indiscriminately. You can do better, you must do better, and hopefully you will do better.

Ed Slavin said...

1. Folio pulled its punches.
2. The article was shallow.
3. The article was way too short and it did not quote the factual, scientific testimony or convey the drama of the meeting, which I attended gavel to gavel, speaking last after hearing all of the evidence.
4. Quick and dirty article by TV reporter. I wrote and asked her if she attended meeting or watched video. Did she? The article's assertion that public testimony took only one hour, not three, shows its seeming reliance on the St. Augustine Record's article, thus possibly explaining its vapidity. These are important issues, requiring more than Record-like baby talk.
5. Folio did not mention the greedy PEYTONS, bilious oilmen and Republican billionaires who demand to rezone property and profiteer by selling it to government at higher price. As I told Folio Weekly Editor Georgio Valentino on Aviles Street on First Friday Arts Walk on September 6, 2019 the name/identity of the PEYTONS are essential to understanding why PZA voted 4-2 in favor of this damnable project. As the late New York Times reporter, editor and columnist Tom Wicker's journalism professor said at the University of North Carolina, "If you're going to tell a story about a bear, bring on the bear." In On Press, Tom Wicker wrote of the tendency of journalists to treat dominant local businesses as untouchable, like Big Tobacco in North Carolina. Treating the former Mayor of Jacksonville as an untouchable "sacred cow" and omitting his name is journalistic malpractice. I respectfully dissent. We, the People of St. Johns County do rely on Folio to investigate wrongdoers -- not to bow and scrape, or to trim its sails to the rich and greedy.
6. Folio should be talking about a boycott of GATE, instead of omitting its name. Boycotts work. The reason I know that is that I was counsel for the plaintiff in Duane Rinde v. Woodward & Lothrop, landmark GLBTQ equal rights case, leading to equal discount benefits for partners of employees at 30 Woodies and John Wanamaker stores in six states and D.C. 1989-1990. NOW and Gay rights groups threatened a boycott, and helped settle the case. The Washington Blade and reporter Lou Chibarro, Jr. helped us make the case for Gay marriage, and I was invited to write about the Woodies case in the first article on Gay marriage for an American Bar Association publication in 1991. Boycotts work.

Ed Slavin said...

7. Not one of us PZA 42 speakers suggested a boycott of GATE Petroleum. If any of us had, the indecent proposal might have already been withdrawn by now. I won't make that mistake again.
8. Folio is capable of much better work. The reason I know that is that Georgio Valentino and I co-wrote a cover story feature article on St. Augustine for the March 20, 2019 issue, describing the City of St. Augustine's attacks on artists, musicians and homeless people.
9. I miss Anne Schindler and I miss the days when Folio ran longer articles.
10. Odd that you would not use your real name, but I printed your comment anyway. Do you fear retaliation by PEYTONS/GATE? I u understand. They are a powerful force in our communities. They need to be exposed and held accountable. Now.
11. Try not to talk down to me and then you can be "more effective." As Brendan Sullivan once said, "I am not a potted plant."
12. I do not read or subscribe to Jacksonville Magazine, so please enlighten me with a link, or kindly e-mail me a PDF to
13. Your seem to have somewhat low expectations -- I do not see Jacksonville Magazine as a valid comparator.
14. As RFK said, "It is not enough to allow dissent, we must demand it, for their is much to dissent from.... We dissent from the willful, heedless destruction of natural beauty and pleasures." We expect and demand much better journalism here, but it takes a village -- thank you for speaking out! I look forward to talking with you, and your posting again in the future!
15. In the Pentagon Papers case, United States District Court Judge Murray Gurfein wrote, "The security of the Nation is not at the ramparts alone. Security also lies in the value of our free institutions. A cantankerous press, an obstinate press, an ubiquitous press must be suffered by those in authority in order to preserve the even greater values of freedom of expression and the right of the people to know." United States v. N.Y. Times Co., 328 F. Supp. 324, 331 (S.D.N.Y. 1971).
16. Please call me to discuss -- 904-377-4998. Thani you.

Pink Spoonbill said...

The PZA vote was 3-2, not 4-2. My name is Nicole Crosby, I'm president of Save Guana Now. I did not hear any "factual, scientific testimony" in your comment at the PZA, but that did not invalidate it, nor should it invalidate the Folio Weekly article whose function was obviously to provide a chronology and basic background information on the land dispute, and to inform readers of the basics so they can choose to become involved - which many did. The Folio article brought us donors that helped pay our experts, and email-writers to put more pressure on the commission. Your agenda of Peyton-bashing does not further our cause. Remember, they are the property owners and don't have to sell or donate the land. Acquisition is the only way the land can ever be protected in perpetuity, and a boycott would not be a good foundation for future negotiations. An organized boycott would only be considered if bulldozers were imminent, and they're not. Google February 5, 2017 "Jacksonville Magazine" to find the story I referenced. The reporter called the Outpost "a few acres of marshland." The publisher/editor promised our side would be heard, but it never was, despite my repeated requests. You're bashing Folio Weekly with its circulation of 15,000 and its track record of caring about the environment, and giving Jax Magazine a pass - with its circulation of 22,000 and its track record of helping developers. And this is because Folio is a better publication?

Ed Slavin said...

Dear Ms. Crosby:
1. Good work.
2. But your abuse of the words "agenda" and "bashing" make you sound like a PR person, a bit silly, like a shrill put-down artist.
3. This is not my first rodeo.
4. Please call me. Kindly talk to me like a person, from this day forward
5. In dealing with corporate oligarchs, I do not cower to power.
6. I fondly remember Folio when it did not cower to power, as it was when we first moved here on November 5, 1999.
7. We've had 75+ public interest victories here since 2005, when a federal court ordered Rainbow flags on the Bridge of Lions, a big First Amendment victory. Welcome.
8. You've hired an excellent lawyer. I've known Ralf Brookes since 2011. I recommended that he apply for the St. Augustine Beach City Attorney job and recommended him to St. Augustine Beach Commission. I successfully recommended that the current SAB attorney apply, and recommended him to SAB Commission. I am very impressed with Ralf Brookes -- met him at an environmental law conference at UF and we hung out at a faculty member's backyard, sitting on Adirondack chairs around a fire pit until 1 AM. Ralf is one of the finest environmental lawyers in the State of Florida, and well respected by his colleagues. You chose well.
9. You're going to win.

Ed Slavin said...

10. But you need to remove the chip from your shoulder. You sound angry that I criticized a shallow article that pulled its punches, omitting the scientific and factual testimony we heard that day.
11. The reporter and the publication should have done a MUCH better job with the available material. The article reads like she was spoon-fed information and wrote in a hurry, without ever watching the video or attending the hearing. Key facts left out.
12. I criticize news media and government officials, as is my right.
13. As a former newspaper editor, it's my duty to speak out.
14. Our Appalachian Observer newspaper got the biggest mercury pollution event in world history declassified (Oak Ridge, Tennessee, 1983).
15. We helped remove a cruel corrupt school supt.
16. We exposed and encouraged deputies to help the Justice Department to prosecute corrupt Sheriff Dennis O. Trotter.
17. Your defensiveness about criticisms reflects a PR background, right?
18. Sorry if I offended you, but I would not have imagined that anyone would be so easy to offend and so thin-skinned as to want to intimidate me and demand that I eschew telling the truth about GATE PETROLEUM. Reminds me of my first article
19. I've been studying Big Oil since I was an undergraduate at Georgetown University, working for three U.S. Senators and then helping to stop coal slurry pipelines with my first published article (11,500 worlds, most of which was inserted in the Congressional Record).
20. I called and spoke to Ellen Avery-Smith on a Friday afternoon at 5:01 last year after 50 of us spoke and defeated Fish Island at St, Augustine PZB last year, encouraging the sale to the State. We won. Did you watch video? I recruited former St. Augustine Beach Mayor Sherman Gary Snodgrass to speak -- there was an overflow crowd in the loggia at City Hall/Lightner, just like we had at SJC BoCC last month.
21. I spoke to Ellen again last month, as she was leaving the auditorium after the 3-2 vote at PZA.
22. Ellen's client is going to sell the land.
23. Our current Commission is so much better than those In the past, when the Issues Group and Michelle Perry vetted our County Commissioners.
24. It is legally and morally wrong to rezone property with the expectation of getting a higher price for it from the State of Florida than fair market value -- the fair price will reflect what the property is zoned for TODAY. Not a rezoned price.
25. My larger vision embraces a St. Augustine National Historical Park and National Seashore. What do you reckon ?
26. See my column in today's St. Augustine Record, one of some 80 letters and columns it has printed since the stolen presidential election in 2000.
27. Have y'all approached Michelle Ross at WJCT to book a program on "First Coast Connect?"
28. Talk to you soon.
With kindest regards,
Ed Slavin

Pink Spoonbill said...

You asked me to talk to you "like a person," and then you talk to me in numbered sentences?? I'm expressing myself the only way I know how. Maybe you're the one who's thin-skinned. I will continue to use the words "agenda" and "bashing" however I choose, just as you will continue to criticize whomever you choose. Name-calling always indicates lack of a sound argument, in my book.

I'm glad you think highly of our attorney, as do I!

If I "sound angry" about your criticism of an article that was helpful to our cause, that's because I was. Anger is a valid emotion and not a "chip." Maybe you'll understand my anger if your national seashore proposal is written up in a local magazine, and someone who professes to be a supporter of your cause publicly lambasts the publication that provided the coverage and the article itself because it didn't align with their personal expectations of what the article should have been.

You can say whatever you like about Gate Petroleum. I never said you shouldn't. Sorry if you found me intimidating! However, if you think attacking or boycotting the owners of the Outpost will get the land donated - which you requested in your public comment - I believe you're mistaken. Generosity comes from the heart, not from attacks.

I congratulate you on your many successes, and I think your letter today is excellent. I wish you much luck on your national seashore project. You asked about my background (in an insulting way, but whatever). You can find it on our About page. And we have been on Melissa Ross' show, and will be again soon.

Ed Slavin said...

1. Numbering paragraphs makes it easy to respond and organize one's thoughts. It's how I was taught. Sorry that offended you or your found it somehow threatening.
2. My e-mail to Georgio Valentino was NOT intended for publication, nor was it phrased as such. When he told me Friday that he published it, I told him that it was not intended for publication. I only blogged about the Folio article after our conversation. He is working on an editorial, which I believe will be stronger than the half-baked cover story that pulled its punches on the Peytons. You posted on an unrelated article on my blog, in response to a brief letter to the editor of Folio Weekly -- NOT intended for publication -- and continue with a defensive-aggressive attitude about the Folio article.
3. I have again publicly suggested a boycott be considered, in a blog post earlier today, shared on Facebook. Your approval is neither desired nor required. I don't feel subservient to anyone's leadership on issues about which I have spoken out for decades.
4. I do not support mediocre reporting, or half-baked advocacy, or angry appeasement of billionaires and polluters. "Bashing?" Really? How trite. Perhaps if we had not been so "nice," we would have won the vote in PZA. This is not a game of beachball.
5. Activists should NOT encourage GATE in its mistaken belief that it can ripoff taxpayers with the rezoning.
6. "Insulting way?" How so? Your background was accurately described, correct? Ad agency VP. What did I miss?
7. I reckon I have more experience than you in investigating and exposing corporations and government agencies, including EPA, TVA, Southern California Edison, Lockheed Martin, etc. Yet you still presume to talk down to me, as if you were still a corporate VP.
8. Your misguided attempt to chill, coerce or intimidate protected activity with pejoratives resembles Madison Avenue malarkey.
9. We agree on so much. And thank you for the citation to the Jacksonville Magazine story, which I have posted on my blog.
10. I forgive you. I do suggest you calm down and "try tolerance," as one of the judges of the D.C. Court of Appeals told homophobic Edward Bennett Williams' law partner during oral argument in Gay Rights Coalition v. Georgetown University, 536 A.2d 1 (1987).
11. We will soon celebrate the victory that you have worked 2.5 years to obtain.
12. The land will be preserved, at a fair price, and not one penny more. In the words of the great American diplomat, Charles Cotesworth Pinckney, "Not one penny for tribute."