- The Washington Times - Friday, March 15, 2002

Getting no respect from the government

If only. If only the world were clean and simple and pure and all motives were the same clean, simple and pure but they are not. Gale A. Norton's March 5 Commentary column, "Era of citizen conservationists," is a nice story if only the baggage of the Clinton and Carter administrations didn't remain within the Department of the Interior. The confiscatory mind-set of the entrenched bureaucrats remains the same, and there is no punishment for lies as the bonuses paid to those responsible for the lynx fur hoax proves.

If only there were accountability and reality-based science, if only there were honor among those who claim to enforce the "intent" of the law but instead pursue their own personal agendas. If only there were respect for those who depend upon the federally managed lands to make a living but there is not.

As for the issue of not funding PILT payment in lieu of taxes my rural Western county has a wonderful idea. Because PILT is like other federal promises, well-intentioned promises soon broken, we suggest counties that are dependent upon PILT be given land in lieu of PILT. Because this money was a promise to counteract the lack of tax dollars coming in, and because any taxpayer who doesn't pay taxes loses his or her land, we suggest that each county that is denied PILT be given an equal value of federal lands in place of the dollars not given.

This way, the local government can generate revenues by creating industrial parks and offering land as an incentive to attract industry that can't come now because we are landlocked by federally managed lands especially my county, which is 98 percent federally managed. Two percent of the tax base is private, and it is under constant assault by the federal government and its frontmen in the "conservation" industry who purchase private property at distressed prices caused by federal regulation and sell at an inflated cost to the federal government. In this manner, the local government is robbed of its security.

We have no reason in rural America to believe that suddenly there is going to be respect for our property rights, our livelihoods or our children's futures. Nothing in the past has given us reason to rest assured, and, frankly, nothing currently gives us reason to hope.

"Consensus" is a nice way to say compromise, which is another word for rape, in many instances, and that is exactly what is being perpetrated on the rural West by federal agencies and their consensus projects rape: We will destroy you if you don't give up.

Federal agencies and their cohorts (consultants) call it consensus, but if you don't agree totally with what is said or the approach that is taken, they will ridicule you, assassinate your character and exclude you from discussion of what to do with your own land. I know; I live with this type of treatment every day. I have had my character shredded by Interior employees, my job threatened and my ability to fight for the rights of ranchers quashed by the Interior employees' partners in crime.

America cannot be America while the federal government's employees disdain the right to private property and are allowed to thumb their noses at ethics and integrity.


Planning coordinator

Public lands secretary

Pioche, Nev.

The implicit threat of the Endangered Species Act

Contrary to Chuck Cushman's response to Interior Secretary Gale A. Norton's March 5 Commentary column, "Era of citizen conservationists," the "enemy" is not the secretary but the rules under which the secretary is forced to operate ("Norton abandons Bush country," Letters, March 9).

The Endangered Species Act may sound like a "can't miss" idea, but the way it has been enforced, primarily by the Clinton administration, calls into question whether it has gone way beyond its original intent.

Far from protecting "species," it is a no-holds-barred billy club that seeks to protect "possible future habitat" as a disguise for eliminating cattle ranchers, off-highway four-wheelers, snowmobilers and anyone else for whom the environmental lobby has disdain.

To protect recreational opportunities, it is time to set aside areas and make them Endangered Species Act exempt, just as we have large areas of land that are exempt from compliance with the Americans With Disabilities Act. Every time we create a new "wilderness" area, that means everyone without two good legs can just stay home.

The debate is simple. Multiple-use advocates believe humans are part of the environment and their needs must be taken into account when making public land management decisions. So-called "environmentalists" believe humans are not part of the environment and their needs are secondary to those of all the subspecies of plants and animals. Until you get agreement between these two polar opposites, the fight no doubt will continue unabated.



Open Trails Association

Prescott, Ariz.

Women's law group against Pickering

Your March 7 editorial "Politics of personal destruction" mischaracterizes our opposition to Judge Charles W. Pickering's nomination to the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals an opposition based on Judge Pickering's record.

Among the reasons for our concern is Judge Pickering's own statement that he believes most employment-discrimination cases that come before him are without merit. At his confirmation hearing Feb. 7, Judge Pickering defended his record of repeatedly ruling against people with employment-discrimination claims by asserting that most claims with merit are resolved by the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), often through mediation. In reality, the EEOC has a backlog of nearly 35,000 cases and litigates only 3.5 percent of the charges in which it finds reason to believe discrimination has occurred. Further, almost two-thirds of employers decline to participate in the mediation program a program that was not even in place during most of Judge Pickering's tenure on the bench. By his own admission, Judge Pickering does not have an open mind on these important cases and his preconceptions are clearly erroneous. Bringing these facts to light hardly constitutes "attack-jargon of the inflamed left," as The Washington Times charges.

Lifetime appointments to the federal judiciary have an enormous impact on all Americans. It is critical that the Senate approve only those nominees with a record of commitment to the laws and principles that ensure equal opportunity for all citizens. With Judge Pickering, the record simply is not there.



National Women's Law Center


What makes Joseph Roth a 'Jewish novelist'?

I wonder how with your your editorial vigilance you overlooked Sudip Bose's absurd characterization of Joseph Roth as a "Jewish novelist" in the March 10 Books section. In Roth's classic masterpiece "Radetzky Marsch," Jews are mentioned only once, in a very minor incident, the point of which is to illustrate the paternal concern of the Emperor Franz Josef for all his subjects and not at all the Jews.

I suppose Mr. Bose would call me a Jewish lawyer, not a Washington lawyer, an Anglican lawyer, a German-born lawyer, an international or corporate lawyer, a Georgetown lawyer, an aged lawyer, a reactionary Republican lawyer, an extremist Christian right lawyer, etc.

Roth identified passionately with the lost glory of the Habsburg empire. That was his point. I just hope he won't have to turn in his grave because of Mr. Bose.



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