Friday, August 10, 2007

Another day in the Bush administration-- we learn about another whistleblower who got the ax.

Doug Parker is not an ideologue. He was, however a competent administrator who began working for the United States when Gerald Ford was the President. He worked for 29 years for the U.S. Forest Service. By 2005 he was the pesticide coordinator and assistant director of forestry health for the agency's Southwestern region.

Parker took his job seriously. So he didn't consider it acceptable when he found that pesticides were being misused, often illegally in the National Forests. So he raised the issue with his supervisors. And they fired him for bringing it up.

Parker is now suing in court to get his job back.

In June, an in-house appeals board upheld his firing. So Doug Parker has realized that he won't get anywhere appealing within the administration, and he is now in court contending that his firing was illegal and had no other basis than his pointing out that the law was not being followed.

According to the lawsuit, Parker became the subject of hostile treatment by his supervisors after complaining about what he called a "systemic problem" when it came to proper pesticide use across several forests in New Mexico and Arizona.

Parker had accused some managers of not preparing environmental risk assessments and failing to get approval from agency officials who had the authority to make decisions about pesticides.

He was concerned that not following agency policies or laws such as the National Environmental Policy Act — which serves as the basis for federal management of public lands — could have consequences for public safety and the environment.

"Responsible management officials knew and were aware that Mr. Parker considered the manner in which pesticide coordination was being carried out by others to be ethically, legally and environmentally unsound," the lawsuit reads.

This story is only the latest in a long series of retaliatory moves taken by the Bush administration against whistle blowers. But let's be clear here-- the reason they've had so many problems with whistleblowers is because there have been so many fouls to blow the whistle on. In keeping with the Bush administration's philosophy of governance however, they haven't addressed the problems that cause whistleblowers to pop up by doing a better job of complying with the law, but instead they have tried to make examples of those who do (and in Parker's case, the objections were never even raised publically until this week) in order to rule by fear, threats and intimidation. Or sometimes, as we saw in the U.S. Attorney scandal, it is a matter of removing a professional public servant who is doing a competent job in a sensitive area, and replacing him or her with some kid whose primary job qualification is being a Republican.

If there was justice in the world, next year we'd have a Democratic President, Parker would get his job back and have his recommendations acted on immediately, and maybe even get a promotion (the position of immediate supervisor of his old position would be a good one for him to be in.)

1 comment:

x4mr said...

Good post. Incompetence pervades the entire administration.

It isn't just the firings. There have also been numerous resignations by individuals with conscience who leave in disgust at the grotesque violations of decency they see in their particular context.