Sunday, January 10, 2010
The Adirondack Park is a wonderful thing, the Adirondack Park Agency not so much. How does a multi-year investigation threatening a lone family in a cabin with literally millions of dollars in fines suddenly just go away?
The conspiracy theory about a deal with the Nature Conservancy is entirely believable.
EPA has driven hundreds of businesses out of business with similar bully tactics employing dubious claims of toxic contamination and massive fines.
Curiously, as soon as the owners cave in and sign over their titles (as a condition of having fines dropped) to a party who "promises" to "remediate" the problem, the massive contamination problems that would cost millions to "clean up" suddenly vanish with fresh testing, or are taken care of with a token few barrels of "contaminated" dirt being hauled away for appearance sake.
My family was an EPA target for one of these land swindle scams years ago. EPA had us listed as a freaking superfund site with fines approaching $1M. My dad did the only thing he could do and signed over the title. A single token truck load of dirt was hauled out (hardly the $500,000 EPA was claiming the "cleanup" would cost), and suddenly the site got a clean bill of health, but now is in the hands of some lawyer.
Do I sound bitter? If I do its because I am. Organizations with this kind of unchallengeable power, like APA, EPA, become corrupt. Deals are made. Family businesses and fortunes are wiped out with the stroke of a bureaucrat's pen and an administrative finding.
Perhaps some percentage of them are honest, but I've not met any of them.
My cousin runs an EPA section and if the Park Agency shares the culture of the EPA, I'd guess the article is right on both fronts in it's speculation: the Agency didn't have any idea who terrible it's threats seem to a citizen and it didn't care anyway, since it is used to being publicly regarded as "noble" for acting hand in glove with the Nature Conservancy.
Bureaucrats, as you say with your Arendt quote, don't care about the impact of their bureaucratic rule on the subject, only that the bureaucrat has acted in accordance with the rules of the organization he or she serves. If the object lesson is "That's the morality of a government employee", then I thank you for bringing yet another example to the fore.
I agree with Purple Avenger. Before hitting the link I would have bet money the hated Nature Conservancy would be involved. And he and the other commenters are spot on about the bureaucracies named. They love to push people around who can't push back, and they have unlimited financial reserves to do it with when compared to the little people. And the worst of it is, you can't vote these tyrants out of office.
There is an equally pernicious arrangement with the Trust for Public Land and various municipal/state agencies around the country.
Deals are setup in a Non-Transparent way (perhaps they should be on CSPAN?) for acquisition of property. Now the deals may have made sense but as they always seem to have complicated structures the smell factor is bad. Also the TPL somehow gets income as an intermediary.
From the linked-to article:
"Officials with the Adirondack Park Agency say the investigation lasted so long because the Mayes refused to cooperate with it."
"...the agency's staff was trying to force the Mayes off their land so an environmental group could buy it. The agency stopped, they say, only when that hidden agenda was exposed."
"What settled the case, according to Chairman Stiles, was Ricky Nolan telling him that a cabin had stood on that site for decades.
Before he was elected town supervisor, Ricky Nolan worked for years as the Black Brook assessor.
"In ‘83, when I first became assessor, I remember seeing the cabin, right where that sits now," he said.
That was all he needed to hear, Stiles said.
...why didn't Park Agency staffers try it?"
Three reasopns for disbanding the APA.