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daily 01/05/2014

    • But Snyder caught a break. President George W. Bush’s new administration was placing well-connected, industry-friendly officials in powerful positions, nowhere more so than at the Department of the Interior. The new interior secretary was Gale Norton, a loyal Republican who would eventually leave her post to become a lobbyist for Shell.
    • . In January of 2002, Snyder offered the park superintendent, a crusty, thirty-one-year park service veteran, a $25,000 “cash contribution” to the park in exchange for a permit to cut down a clearing. The deal was quickly rejected, despite a late intervention from Smith. But the outside pressure was only beginning.
    • Over the phone, the official told the investigators, Smith seemed agitated that nothing had been done yet, and suggested an exit strategy, which he later alleged had come from the Redskins’ attorney: most of the trees in question were nonnative; why not clear-cut them and call it an exotic-plant extermination program?
    • They agreed to grant Snyder a special use permit to clear 200 feet of trees on the slope behind his house, on the condition that he replace them with 600 native saplings. No one, however, had sought the permission of Montgomery County, Maryland, which had joint custody of the C&O Canal land. Nor had anyone commissioned an environmental assessment, as required by law. And they had ignored the recommendation of the park’s horticulture specialists, who warned that clear-cutting even exotic plants would have adverse affects effects on the ecosystem. Snyder got to work immediately.
    • Then … crickets. When the Washington Post reported on the neighbor complaints that November, after Snyder’s crew had finished what it started, an NPS spokeswoman first expressed surprise—and then called back to explain that it was a routine culling of exotic plants, albeit an extermination program that seemed to be taking place only in Snyder’s backyard.
    • The result was damning: the report called NPS’s permission to allow the tree cutting an “unprecedented decision” resulting from “undue influence” and said that Smith had “inappropriately used his position to apply pressure and circumvent NPS procedures.” It said Brandt had told investigators that he had agreed to go along with the plan so as to be a “team player” so soon after taking the job.
    • But the inspector general’s report also left little ambiguity within the NPS about just who the anonymous whistleblower had been. When Danno’s case came before the regional disciplinary board, he discovered that his fate was in the hands of the woman who had been Mainella’s chief of staff when Snyder removed the trees.
    • The National Park Service pressed the issue, securing an indictment in May of 2008, and then taking the case to the federal court, where, as Danno was made well aware, the NPS almost never loses. B
    • he evidence was overwhelmingly in Danno’s favor; after his supervisor revealed that he had transported Danno’s “stolen” property to his home in his own car, the jury needed just a few minutes to acquit Danno in February of 2009.
    • ine years after the tree cutting, the only head to roll at the National Park Service has been Danno’s. In 2004, shortly after arranging the tree deal, Smith landed a plum job as superintendent of Colonial National Historic Park in Virginia, which he still holds
    • “Essentially, all Dan Snyder did was ask,” he says. “It was our job to turn him down.” Snyder, for his part, has never apologized for the trouble he caused others by cutting down those trees. A local realtor, however, estimated that the unobstructed view of the river has added hundreds of thousands of dollars to the value of his estate.
  • The best part of Mack Brown’s tweets are the layers.

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

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