- Associated Press - Thursday, November 12, 2015

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) - The Bismarck Tribune, Bismarck, Nov. 12, 2015

Lake Tschida decision unfortunate

It’s unfortunate that the Bureau of Reclamation couldn’t find its way to a compromise for Lake Tschida site users. The bureau decided trailers and permanent property along the shoreline would have to go by 2021. The reason - when high water and flooding occurs debris can float into the flood pool, causing problems.

Some of the site users have had access to the lake between Glen Ullin and Elgin since the early 1960s. While the lake wasn’t necessarily intended for permanent sites, lease holders have been allowed to develop their lots. When the bureau announced plans to phase out the trailers the lease holders offered alternatives. They asked if a floating debris barrier could be constructed at the spillway, if trailers could be relocated to other bureau property or if trailers could be anchored, even though none ever floated in high water.

Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., persuaded the Bureau of Reclamation Commissioner Estevan Lopez to visit and meet with the Heart Butte Cabin Association. Lopez toured the lake, but in the end, he sided with the bureau. The lease holders have about six years to decide what to do. They can remove their property, continue their leases and bring in a camper or RV on a seasonal basis. Or, they can drop the leases and move on, a difficult thing to do for people who have enjoyed the lake for many years. The lake site has generated many happy family memories.

The site users pay a $1,200 annual lease with all the revenue of more than $200,000 annually going to the Tri-City Jobs Development Authority, which has a contract to manage Lake Tschida’s public camping, boat docks and recreation. The bureau’s decision affects 114 people. There are another 110 cabin lease sites on higher ground that won’t be affected. Lake Tschida is different from other recreational sites in that lease holders have paid to have wells drilled, electric brought in and septic systems installed on their lots, though the bureau did inform them that the improvements would be bureau property.

While the lease holders knew of the risks involved in making improvements and getting established, the situation had been stable for many years. So the bureau’s decision is somewhat of a surprise. The bureau should step back and take another look at a possible compromise. The lease holders have as big of a stake in the lake as the bureau. There should be a middle ground and there still should be time to look for it.

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Minot Daily News, Minot, Nov. 1, 2015

Why is no one held accountable?

Look under “accountability” in the dictionary and who knows whose pictures you may see? What will not accompany the text is a portrayal of a federal bureaucrat.

Never ever does anything serious seem to happen to government officials who fail to do their jobs properly, waste massive amounts of taxpayers’ money, harm the innocent unfairly or even engage in criminal activities. It is happening again in the Internal Revenue Service scandal.

IRS officials in the section headed by Lois Lerner singled out conservative groups seeking tax-exempt status for special treatment. It included lengthy delays and sometimes, outright harassment.

Lerner herself was allowed to retire from the IRS - after refusing to testify at two congressional hearings. Then, investigators were told some of her official emails pertinent to the probe had been lost when her computer crashed, ever so conveniently.

Recently, the Justice Department announced it had concluded an investigation of the matter - and would be filing criminal charges against no one.

DOJ officials admitted they found “mismanagement, poor judgment and institutional inertia” that contributed to the IRS problem.

No one has received any substantial punishment for what happened. Lerner will enjoy her full pension. Those she left behind will continue to cruise through the IRS bureaucracy until they, too, retire.

Nowhere in the government - not at the IRS, the Department of Veterans Affairs, the Environmental Protection Agency or any of the other places where actions demand accountability has it occurred.

Why? More important, why does no one in Congress do anything about it?

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