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Browsing the blog archives for February, 2014.

Please plan to attend the BOS public meeting on the Karuk Casino:

Karuk Tribe on Klamath, Siskiyou County

 

When: Tuesday March 4th

Time: 9am

Where: Miner’s Inn, 122 E. Miner St., Yreka, CA

Telephone: 842-4355

 

Will you have an opportunity to voice your concerns about the Karuk Casino? 

Until just recently the answer was no.

 

This message is from Siskiyou resident, Tom Wetter:

 

In December of 2013 when the draft Tribal EIR was released for public comment I had some questions. So I spent some time talking with Steve Baker, the City Manager in Yreka, Greg Plucker of the County Planning Department and District 3 Supervisor Michael Kobseff, asking if there would be any kind of public meetings. The answers were more than a little disheartening.  The MOU process that the State established for approving Indian Casinos does it’s best to discourage any public input or participation. 

 

First: There aren’t any public or Yreka City Council meetings scheduled to discuss the Casino project.  Nor are any meetings required by law.  Although the Tribe if they want to, could hold public meetings.

 

Second: The City’s only option is to negotiate an Inter-Governmental Services Agreement with the Tribe.  The purpose of this agreement is to quantify the services (e.g., police, fire, sewer, water, traffic, etc.) and negotiate the price for such services. The City doesn’t have the option to not provide the services.  If the parties can’t reach agreement then the matter will go to binding arbitration and the City will be forced to provide the services based on the arbitrators findings and pricing.

 

Third: The County is in the same boat with slightly different issues. They’re responsible for Criminal Prosecutions, Court time and the Jailing of offenders.  Like the City, it’s not if they want to provide the services, it’s just a matter of how much.

 

So, although not required in the California Casino approval process, the Siskiyou County Board of Supervisors is conducting a public meeting on the casino.  So please come and share your thoughts.

 

Here are some of mine. Over the past few years the Karuk Tribe has had a major impact on the economy of our County.  Legal action by the Tribe and their affiliates has eliminated suction gold mining, stopped years of work between agricultural interests and CDF&W on protecting Coho, taken control of Dwinell reservoir (Lake Shastina) operations, killed a County initiative to restore Coho populations to the Shasta River, and forced the County to stop issuing Well permits in the Scott valley.  All of these actions have been at the expense of the ranchers, tax payers, and the working class in Siskiyou County.  Additionally, the Tribe is a signatory on the Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement (KBRA). The KBRA calls for the removal of the Klamath dams and is the reason our electricity rates have nearly doubled in the past several months.  If the KBRA does become the established land use policy through secretarial determination and congressional funding, the Tribe stands to receive about a 100 million dollars in Federal and State funding.

 

I’m all for bringing money to the County.  But not if it means wealth for a few and poverty for the many.  I believe we need a diversified economy based on the resources we have; meaning it has to include ranching and harvesting of Natural Resources.  But with legal costs, water rights challenges, and high electric costs, running a profitable ranch or business in Siskiyou County is a pretty tough challenge.  A Casino with a hotel and restaurant might be a profitable business.  However, none of the Casino operations will provide revenue for the tax base in the County and will likely take business away from local restaurant’s and hotels that do pay taxes. A couple of hundred minimum wage Casino jobs won’t make up for the loss of a hundred million dollar a year agricultural industry in the Shasta Valley.

 

If you and your neighbors want to at least have an opportunity to voice support, concerns, or objections, there needs to be a number of meetings where this issue can be aired out and we can have a conversation about what this means to all of the folks living in Siskiyou County.  After all, once the California legislature gives final approval there won’t be any recourse.  

 

Finally, the only opportunity to stop or change the project is by stopping the legislative authorization at the  State level.  That won’t happen unless a large number of County residents contact Brian Dahle and Ted Gaines and demand an opportunity to weigh in on this issue before the legislature approves the Compact Jerry Brown signed with the Tribe in December 2013.

 

If you are interested here is the contact information for your representative:

 

Office of Assemblyman Brian Dahle
1st District

280 Hemsted Dr Ste 110

Redding, CA 96001

Tel (530) 223-6300(530) 223-6300

http://arc.asm.ca.gov/member/AD1/

 

Office of Senator Ted Gaines

Redding

1670 Market Street, Suite 244
Redding, CA 96001
Phone:
530.225.3142530.225.3142
Fax:
530.225.3143530.225.3143

http://district1.cssrc.us/content/my-offices

 

Message from Louise Gliatto, resident of City of Yreka:  we need to flood their offices with phone calls, emails and letters right now!!!  I recommend if you send a letter or email and ask for a written reply.  Put them on record for their response or lack of one.  Also, post your objections on their face book pages and  yours.  Send this email to all on your email list and plan to attend the meeting.  Let’s fill the room with standing room only.  This is about the future of our economy and our county.

 

The Karuk leadership and their environmental friends have proven time and time again that they are not friends of the people of Siskiyou County.  They mean to destroy us.

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Karuks are illegally pursuing casino in Yreka — It is Shasta National Territory, meaning Karuks are NOT aboriginal to the Yreka area

CORRUPTION, Karuk Tribe on Klamath, SHASTA NATION, Tribes

Siskiyou County Board of Supervisors will hold meeting on Karuk Tribal Casino Project to be located in Yreka

Please attend and comment against the Karuk leadership pushing a casino. Studies prove that a casino will not improve our economy. A casino  becomes a dredge on society.

Under National Indian Gaming regulations, a Tribe cannot go to another Tribal area and put in a casino. Yreka has graveyards with Shasta Indians and can prove Shasta villages were located smack-dab in the Yreka area.This is not historical Karuk land. It is Shasta Nation land.

3.            9:00 A.M. – DEPARTMENTAL REQUESTS

A.            COUNTY ADMINISTRATOR

Discussion, direction and possible action re the Karuk Tribe Casino Project and the process for casino approval and possible mitigations under the compact between the Karuk Tribe and the State of California, and presentation by Karuk Tribal Officials.

Miner’s Inn Convention Center, 122 East Miner Street, Yreka, CA.          9:00 A.M

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Couple says wolves killed horse in Idaho

Agriculture, Wolves

Published: February 26. 2014 9:36AM

Todd Grimm, director of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services in Idaho, said one or two wolves are responsible for the colt’s death.

 Capital Press

BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Federal hunters are pursuing one or two wolves blamed for killing a horse in central Idaho this month.

The Idaho Mountain Express (http://tinyurl.com/n6b3b2k ) reports a colt belonging to Kevin and Jennifer Swigert was killed Feb. 13.

The Swigerts raise horses and hound dogs in a rural canyon west of Hailey, Idaho.

In recent years, they’ve blamed wolf packs for killing not only livestock but also reducing elk herds once prominent in the hills above their home.

Todd Grimm, director of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services in Idaho, said one or two wolves are responsible for the colt’s death.

Grimm says wolves only rarely kill horses, about one or two annually.

Comparatively, dozens of cattle and hundreds of sheep are killed by Idaho packs.

Wolves number 680 in Idaho.

– See more at: http://www.capitalpress.com/article/20140226/ARTICLE/140229919/1007?utm_source=Capital+Press+Newsletters&utm_campaign=d44741ea98-Idaho_Weekly_Update&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_4b7e61b049-d44741ea98-69631317#sthash.Et2KEAEO.dpuf

Todd Grimm, director of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services in Idaho, said one or two wolves are responsible for the colt’s death.

BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Federal hunters are pursuing one or two wolves blamed for killing a horse in central Idaho this month.

The Idaho Mountain Express (http://tinyurl.com/n6b3b2k ) reports a colt belonging to Kevin and Jennifer Swigert was killed Feb. 13.

The Swigerts raise horses and hound dogs in a rural canyon west of Hailey, Idaho.

In recent years, they’ve blamed wolf packs for killing not only livestock but also reducing elk herds once prominent in the hills above their home.

Todd Grimm, director of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services in Idaho, said one or two wolves are responsible for the colt’s death.

Grimm says wolves only rarely kill horses, about one or two annually.

Comparatively, dozens of cattle and hundreds of sheep are killed by Idaho packs.

Wolves number 680 in Idaho.

– See more at: http://www.capitalpress.com/article/20140226/ARTICLE/140229919/1007?utm_source=Capital+Press+Newsletters&utm_campaign=d44741ea98-Idaho_Weekly_Update&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_4b7e61b049-d44741ea98-69631317#sthash.Et2KEAEO.dpuf

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Storms bring relief to parched California

Agriculture - California, Air, Climate & Weather

Published: February 27. 2014 9:21AM

Two storm fronts are bringing much-needed rain to California Thursday.

 Capital Press

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Southern California got an overnight soaking Thursday as residents prepared for a second, more powerful storm that could bring heavier rain and prompted fears of mudslides in communities along fire-scarred foothills.

The weather system moved down from Northern California, bringing up to an inch of rain in drought-stricken coastal and valley areas of Los Angeles County, and more in the mountains. About an inch of rain fell earlier around the San Francisco Bay Area.

Authorities urged commuters to drive with caution as some Los Angeles-area freeways saw water pooling in lanes. An early-morning rockslide was cleared from a Malibu canyon thoroughfare and no injuries were reported.

The storm — and the far larger one expected to arrive Friday — brought worries and recommended evacuations in some areas in the suburbs of Glendora and Azusa about 25 miles northeast of Los Angeles, because they sit at the foot of the steep San Gabriel Mountains where a wildfire last month stripped nearly 2,000 acres where water could now pose a danger.

“Residents located near burn areas should be alert for the potential of mud and debris flows Friday through Saturday,” forecasters said.

Glendora on Wednesday raised its flooding protocol alert level for a second time, urging that residents near the burn area voluntarily evacuate or prepare essentials such as medications and important papers. A mandatory evacuation order could come sometime Thursday, officials said.

The city provided thousands of sandbags to residents who streamed into a city yard to fill the bags and drive them away.

“I’d like to stay, but I’m prepared to do whatever the Fire Department asks us to do,” Mary Waldusky told KABC-TV, as volunteers lined sandbags along her foothill neighborhood. “We’re ready to evacuate with our daughters.”

Sandbags were also being provided in other communities along mountain ranges east and west of Los Angeles, where other fires have burned in recent years, including the area of the May 2013 Springs Fire in the Santa Monica Mountains.

The National Weather Service said light-to-moderate rain from the first storm was expected through midday Thursday.

The weather service said the second storm will be stronger and move across Southern California from late Thursday through late Saturday, reaching Los Angeles County early Friday morning with rainfall amounts ranging from 3-6 inches in the foothills, and up to 8 inches in localized areas.

That second storm will bring by far the heaviest of rain to parched Southern California, Ken Clark, an Accuweather meteorologist, said in an email.

“In fact as much, or more rain, may fall in parts of Southern California than fall, let’s say, around the Bay Area when all is said and done,” Clark wrote.

A wind advisory was scheduled to be in effect until midnight in the San Gabriel mountains and the Antelope Valley. An even more serious high wind watch will be in effect in the Antelope Valley from late Thursday through Friday evening.

State water officials plan Thursday to survey the anemic mountain snow pack, and will likely find that California’s precipitation is badly lagging what’s needed to quench the region’s thirst after 2013 ended as the state’s driest year on record.

A so-called Pineapple Express storm brought rain and snow to California earlier this month, and when it departed, the Sierra Nevada snowpack had grown but was still only 29 percent of normal.

Rain fell throughout the day Wednesday in San Francisco, and gave a midday pounding to the Santa Cruz Mountains south of the Bay Area.

The showers caused the cancellation of more than 100 flights at San Francisco International Airport.

– See more at: http://www.capitalpress.com/article/20140227/ARTICLE/140229907/1006?utm_source=Capital+Press+Newsletters&utm_campaign=f8401ac49f-California_Weekly_Update&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_4b7e61b049-f8401ac49f-69631317#sthash.EvIFNyns.dpuf

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Judge rules for San Diego in major water dispute

Agriculture - California, Water, Resources & Quality

By ELLIOT SPAGAT

Associated Press

Published: February 26. 2014 9:04AM

San Francisco Superior Court Judge Curtis Karnow said Los Angeles-based wholesaler Metropolitan Water District of Southern California incorrectly set rates to bring water from the Colorado River to the coast on its 242-mile aqueduct from 2011 to 2014.

 

SAN DIEGO (AP) — A judge said Tuesday that a giant Southern California agency overcharges for carrying water on the Colorado River aqueduct, a major victory for San Diego in a high-stakes dispute.

San Francisco Superior Court Judge Curtis Karnow said Los Angeles-based wholesaler Metropolitan Water District of Southern California incorrectly set rates to bring water from the Colorado River to the coast on its 242-mile aqueduct from 2011 to 2014.

The San Diego County Water Authority, Metropolitan’s largest customer, sued in 2010 over the transportation costs, claiming Metropolitan was using a windfall to subsidize millions of other customers in Los Angeles, Orange, San Bernardino, Riverside and Ventura counties. Karnow’s 66-page ruling followed a December trial.

A second phase of the massive trial will address, among other questions, whether San Diego gets a refund. Dennis Cushman, the San Diego agency’s assistant general manager, said disputed overcharges from 2011 through 2013 total $135 million.

It’s too early to estimate the ruling’s impact on households, Cushman said, but the San Diego agency claimed it was being overcharged between $1.3 billion and $2.1 billion over 45 years. It claims it was overcharged $57 million in 2013, translating to $73.60 in extra costs for an average household of four.

Jeffrey Kightlinger, Metropolitan’s general manager, said Tuesday that the rates were “both logical and legal” and called the ruling “one step in a very long process.”

“We look forward to the coming steps in the judicial process to demonstrate that a rate structure that fairly and equitably recovers all the cost of delivering safe, high-quality, and reliable water is in the interest of all Southern Californians,” he said.

The San Diego County Water Authority, which supplies the city of San Diego and 23 suburbs and water agencies, ended its complete dependence on Metropolitan after a drought tightened the spigot in the early 1990s. It began a costly effort to diversify supplies that includes construction of the Western Hemisphere’s largest desalination plant in Carlsbad and, most significant, a 2003 agreement with California’s Imperial Valley for the nation’s largest farm-to-city water transfer.

Metropolitan supplied 46 percent of San Diego’s water last year, down from 95 percent in 1991 but is still the city’s largest supplier. By 2020, it will supply only 30 percent. There’s just one catch: San Diego needs Metropolitan’s aqueduct to get the water it buys from the Imperial Valley.

San Diego agency officials celebrated the ruling at a news conference Tuesday night.

“Clearly, what Metropolitan was trying to do here was to keep the golden goose in the henhouse and keep us captive to their rate-making power,” Cushman said.

The dispute has been unusually acrimonious. In 2012, the San Diego agency launched an unusual public relations offensive with a website that alters its largest supplier’s official seal to read, “The Truth About Metropolitan Water District of So. Cal.”

– See more at: http://www.capitalpress.com/article/20140226/ARTICLE/140229924/1006?utm_source=Capital+Press+Newsletters&utm_campaign=f8401ac49f-California_Weekly_Update&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_4b7e61b049-f8401ac49f-69631317#sthash.kCKW1GKz.dpuf

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Watchdog: EPA officials obstructed probes through ‘intimidation’

Clean Water ACT - EPA, CORRUPTION, CRIMINAL, Federal gov & land grabs

FoxNews.com

 

 

April 11, 2013: Gina McCarthy testifies before a Senate Environment and Public Works Committee hearing on her nomination to be administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency on Capitol Hill. Reuters photo.

The chief watchdog overseeing the Environmental Protection Agency is accusing agency officials of obstructing investigations by refusing to cooperate, using bully tactics to silence lower-level workers and, in at least one instance, threatening an agent.

EPA Inspector General Arthur Elkins Jr. made the allegations in a letter sent this week to Sen. David Vitter, R-La. The senator earlier had questioned both the objectivity of the IG office and whether EPA officials had interfered with investigations — specifically asking about the case of John Beale, a former high-ranking official who was sentenced in December to 32 months in prison for bilking taxpayers of nearly $1 million by pretending to be a CIA agent.

The IG’s office formally exposed the Beale fraud last year, but revealed to Vitter that, in this and other cases, its agents ran into resistance and even “intimidation” from the EPA ranks.

“Over the past 12 months, there have been several EPA officials who have taken action to prevent [the Office of Investigations] from conducting investigations or have attempted to obstruct investigations through intimidation,” Elkins wrote.

In the Beale probe, Elkins confirmed that a staff attorney refused to be interviewed on a related audit following Beale’s prosecution. Elkins wrote that auditors found indications she may have been aware of concerns about Beale’s pay months earlier than she let on.

Separately, Elkins said an official in the agency’s Office of Homeland Security approached one of their agents “in a threatening manner” during an investigation, preventing the agent from doing her job. The same official allegedly “issued non-disclosure agreements to EPA employees that prevented these employees from cooperating.”

The case was apparently reported to the Justice Department, but it was never prosecuted, according to the letter.

Elkins said that yet another employee in the same office also refused to cooperate in an IG probe, and pulled the same move — issuing non-disclosure agreements to employees to prevent them from cooperating as well.

It’s unclear whether these other instances had anything to do with the IG’s investigation into the Beale matter. Vitter’s office said they suspect they are related at least in part, but are still working on their own investigations.

“We are starting to see proof of what we had already suspected — John Beale’s time and attendance fraud was the tip of the iceberg at the EPA,” Vitter said in a statement. “The whole agency seems to be in complete disarray, which is exactly why we need to have a full [Environment and Public Works] Committee hearing on the fraud surrounding this case and other prevalent problems.”

Vitter is the top Republican on that committee, which has been digging into how Beale was allowed to get away with his deception for so many years. Previously released documents have shown that some agency employees had suspicions about Beale for a long time, yet he kept receiving improper bonuses until 2013. Those bonuses totaled about $500,000.

Vitter had also raised concerns about the IG office’s independence. But Elkins defended its work and its findings. He stood by a claim that EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy was the first senior official to report Beale. And he refuted claims that it viewed Beale’s supposed CIA status as a human resources issue. The letter noted that other agency officials discussed the controversy in that context, but said “OIG was not part of these discussions.”

http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2014/02/27/watchdog-epa-officials-obstructed-probes-through-intimidation/

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State wants humpbacks struck from endangered list

Endangered Species Act

PNP comment: If the ESA was not created to improve the population numbers of a species, what was it created to do? — Editor Liz Bowen

zhollander@adn.comFebruary 26, 2014

The state of Alaska is asking the federal government to remove Endangered Species Act protections for the humpback whales that swim between Alaska and Hawaii, spending months each year off Alaska’s Arctic Coast, a prospective oil-rich region.

The state on Wednesday filed a petition with the National Marine Fisheries Service to “delist” whales that feed in Alaska in the summer and breed in Hawaii in winter. The state wants those humpbacks defined as a distinct, central North Pacific population, which could lead to removal of protection for them even if other humpback populations remain officially endangered.

The larger population of whales throughout the North Pacific had dwindled to fewer than 1,400 in 1966, when the International Whaling Commission banned commercial whaling. The animals have rebounded since being listed as endangered in 1970.

Scientists estimate there are about 20,000 of the whales in the North Pacific today.

State officials say the central North Pacific whale population is thriving and no longer needs the protections of the Endangered Species Act, which requires federal approval for federally funded or authorized activities that could harm whales or destroy the habitat they need to survive.

In Alaska, given the recovery of humpbacks here, the law represents an unnecessary regulatory burden on industries like fishing and oil and gas, state officials say.

“This subpopulation, it’s time to delist it,” said Doug Vincent-Lang, director of the state Division of Wildlife Conservation. “We’re just trying to say the threat of extinction for this subpopulation is gone.”

Other protections, including the Marine Mammal Protection Act, would remain in place, state officials say. Among its provision, that law would protect humpbacks from hunting and harassment.

The National Marine Fisheries Service, within the next 90 days, will determine whether the state’s petition justifies an in-depth review, said NMFS spokeswoman Julie Speegle.

If it does, the agency will weigh the state’s proposal to declare the central North Pacific whales a separate population and whether that population is healthy enough to drop protection, Speegle said.

Alaska’s petition dovetails with one filed in April 2013 by a Hawaiian fishing association to remove Endangered Species Act protections for the entire North Pacific humpback population by declaring it a distinct population too.

Lang said Alaska officials talked with the Hawaii group about their petition.

Recovery of humpbacks across the North Pacific is slower for a population near Japan and South Korea, he said. That’s why Alaska is proposing the end of protection for the central population only.

The state’s petition comes as reports indicate increased numbers of both humpback whales and ships in the narrow passage of the newly ice-free waters of the summertime Bering Strait.

More:

http://www.adn.com/2014/02/26/3347479/state-wants-humbacks-struck-from.html

Read more here: http://www.adn.com/2014/02/26/3347479/state-wants-humbacks-struck-from.html#storylink=cpy
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POW meeting 2-27-14

POW

Scott  Valley 

 

Protect Our Water

 

Meeting

 

Thurs, Feb. 27, 2014

 

7 p.m.

 

Fort Jones Community Center

 

We share desserts first!

 

Agenda:

 

Problems in Trinity County 2 women explain

 

PacifiCorp meeting – Rich Marshall

 

State of Jefferson – Liz Bowen

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Feds to Alaskans: No road for humans, lots of land for animals

Federal gov & land grabs, State gov

Aleutians East Borough.jpg

The fishing community of King Cove is located in the Aleutians East Borough, which stretches from the tip of the Alaska Peninsula to the easternmost Aleutian Islands. Residents of the Cove have been asking the government for three decades to build a one-lane road that would connect the Cove to the nearby hamlet of Cold Bay.

Aleutians East Borough.

FoxNews.com

In one of Alaska’s most remote outposts, where a thousand hardy souls make their homes, the Obama administration has put the fate of birds and bears above the lives of people, blocking construction of an 11-mile gravel trail connecting a tiny fishing hamlet to a life-saving airport.

For more than three decades the predominantly Aleut fishing community of King Cove has been fighting to build a one-lane,gravel track connecting the Cove to the nearby hamlet of Cold Bay. What they have gotten is 30 years of flat-out federal refusals or stall tactics.

Cove residents say a road is necessary so they can reach an all-weather airport in Cold Bay that will transport them to Anchorage, about 625 miles away, for medical treatment. They say that in emergency situations, it’s a matter of life and death.

Late last year, though, the Department of Interior announced it was rejecting plans for a proposed land swap that would allow the road to be built. The Dec. 23 decision cited the negative environmental impact on grizzly bears, caribou and water fowl like the Pacific black brant.

“(Interior Secretary Sally Jewell’s) decision on King Cove was heartless and wrong, and her message to me ever since has been that I need to ‘just get over it and move on,’” Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, told FoxNews.com. “She thinks it’s over because she’s made her decision. But it’s not done. And it is not going to be done until those people have access to safety.”

The senator has already threatened to hold up the nomination of Rhea Suh, the president’s pick for assistant secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks. There has been talk of pushback on other nominations as well as options in the budget process.

The Cove, located on the south side of the Alaska Peninsula, is tucked in the middle of a storm corridor — a fate that brings dense fog and high winds to the area forcing its small airport to shut down 100 days out of the year. With no functional airport and no road, at times there is no way out.

According to local Aleutian elders, 19 people have died since 1980 as a result of the impossible-to-navigate weather conditions during emergency evacuations.

To Murkowski, that’s 19 too many.

Murkowski used her annual address to a joint session of the Alaska legislature to call out the Interior Department over its rejection of a road through the Izembek National Wildlife Refuge.

“I am going to be a hell-raiser on this,” Murkowski said during her speech adding, “We’re going to get this road built.”

MORE:

http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2014/02/26/fed-government-to-alaskans-road-animals/

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V.A. destroyed backlog of veterans’ medical records to “reduce” backlog

Federal gov & land grabs, Veterans & soldiers

Department of Veterans Affairs employees destroyed veterans’ medical records to cancel backlogged exam requests [AUDIO]

By Patrick Howley

The Daily Caller.com

Employees of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) destroyed veterans’ medical files in a systematic attempt to eliminate backlogged veteran medical exam requests, a former VA employee told The Daily Caller.

Audio of an internal VA meeting obtained by TheDC confirms that VA officials in Los Angeles intentionally canceled backlogged patient exam requests.

“The committee was called System Redesign and the purpose of the meeting was to figure out ways to correct the department’s efficiency. And one of the issues at the time was the backlog,” Oliver Mitchell, a Marine veteran and former patient services assistant in the VA Greater Los Angeles Medical Center, told TheDC.

“We just didn’t have the resources to conduct all of those exams. Basically we would get about 3,000 requests a month for [medical] exams, but in a 30-day period we only had the resources to do about 800. That rolls over to the next month and creates a backlog,” Mitchell said. ”It’s a numbers thing. The waiting list counts against the hospitals efficiency. The longer the veteran waits for an exam that counts against the hospital as far as productivity is concerned.”

By 2008, some patients were “waiting six to nine months for an exam” and VA “didn’t know how to address the issue,” Mitchell said.

VA Greater Los Angeles Radiology department chief Dr. Suzie El-Saden initiated an “ongoing discussion in the department” to cancel exam requests and destroy veterans’ medical files so that no record of the exam requests would exist, thus reducing the backlog, Mitchell said.

Audio from a November 2008 meeting obtained by TheDC depicts VA Greater Los Angeles officials plotting to cancel backlogged exam requests.

“I’m still canceling orders from 2001,” said a male official in the meeting.

“Anything over a year old should be canceled,” replied a female official.

“Canceled or scheduled?” asked the male official.

“Canceled. … Your backlog should start at April ’07,” the female official replied, later adding, ”a lot of those patients either had their studies somewhere else, had their surgery … died, don’t live in the state. … It’s ridiculous.”

El-Saden, according to Mitchell, was “the person who said destroy the records.” And her plan was actually carried out during the Obama administration’s management of VA.

“That actually happened,” Mitchell said. “We had that discussion in November 2008 and then in March 2009 they started to delete the exams. Once you cancel or delete an order it automatically cancels out that record” so that no record of the exam requests remained.

Mitchell tried to blow the whistle on the scheme and ended up being transferred out of his department and eventually losing his job.

“I actually filed a complaint with the VA [Inspector General] IG and the office of special counsel. The IG requested if I had any documentation. They wanted names. I gave them [about] a thousand names,” Mitchell said. ”The list I turned into the IG went all the way back to 1997.”

“I filed the initial complaint with the IG. … The IG instead of doing their own investigation just gave it to the facility and made them aware of my complaint.”

Read more: http://dailycaller.com/2014/02/24/va-employees-destroyed-veterans-medical-records-to-cancel-backlogged-exam-requests-audio/#ixzz2uSddu7DN

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