Fire Them All

The administrative regions of the United State...

The administrative regions of the United States Environmental Protection Agency. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Environmental Protection Agency is one of my least favorite bureaucracies. It has outlived its usefulness to we the people. It is now serves the political agenda of a leftist president. Last week, a friend gave me a news clip published in the Wall Street Journal Nov. 21, 2013  titled “The Spy Who Fooled the EPA.” The story is a sick tale about an EPA employee who fooled his bosses into thinking he really did work for them.

All I know is that someone who tricks his superiors into believing he is worth being paid by not doing anything is one shrewd cookie. What makes me furious is that the EPA  did nothing to reprimand him or his superiors for this conduct. Read the article below and tell me what you would have done about this guy if he was your employee.

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The Environmental Protection Agency wants to be the nation’s super-regulator, though it might first try to regulate its own employees. At least the ones pretending to be James Bond.

The Department of Justice in late September announced a plea agreement with John C. Beale , until recently a senior career employee at EPA’s Office of Air and Radiation. Beale, 64, has admitted to devoting most of his 23-year career to bilking taxpayers of some $900,000 in pay and expenses. “Saturday Night Live” couldn’t come up with this story.

Information released by law enforcement, and details from an investigation by Louisiana Senator David Vitter, show that the fraud began when Beale stated in his 1989 EPA job application that he’d worked for the U.S. Senate, though there is no record of such employment. By 1994 Beale was claiming he was a CIA operative to justify prolonged absences. Apparently this raised no eyebrows at EPA.

Prosecutors estimate that from 2000 to 2013 Beale was absent from his EPA duties for a total of 2.5 years, claiming to be working for “Langley” or on a special EPA “research project.” In 2008 he was gone for six months but never submitted a leave request. Around May 2011, Beale claimed to be retiring and celebrated with colleagues on a dinner cruise. An EPA manager admitted to not seeing Beale at the office after that, though not noticing until November 2012 that Beale was still on the payroll.

Beale used his “research” excuse to have taxpayers fund at least five trips to Los Angeles—worth $57,000 in travel expenses—to visit relatives and stay at nice hotels. Beale also claimed that he’d contracted malaria while serving in Vietnam, requiring taxpayers to cough up $18,000 for a handicapped parking spot in downtown Washington, D.C. He didn’t serve in Vietnam and he didn’t have malaria.

Beale was paid despite his absences and he received retention incentive bonuses that for a time made him among the highest paid employees at EPA. Mr. Vitter’s office has noted that Beale was only approved to receive these bonuses for six years, yet EPA somehow handed them out for 23. Spooks the world over are jealous.

To recap: The same agency that wants to regulate the nation’s carbon economy failed to vet a new hire, swallowed his spy stories, and paid a salary and bonuses to an employee who didn’t come to work and whom it didn’t notice was missing. EPA Inspector General Arthur Elkins, who is investigating the agency’s employment and supervisory practices, says this fraud was the result of “an absence of even basic internal controls at the EPA.”

Mr. Vitter is pushing for a Senate hearing into EPA mismanagement, but Environment and Public Works Chairman Barbara Boxer is resisting. Amid all of the other current demonstrations of government incompetence, perhaps she figures this is simply too embarrassing.

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Isn’t that a hoot? Imagine if you found a job at a private sector company and after working there for a few years you go absent for a month or two. You come back and your boss asks you where you were and you tell him you were working for someone else. First of all, I don’t know a single supervisor who would not fire someone who went missing for a month. Second, if he still worked for the company when he came back, he wouldn’t last a minute, especially if he told them he went to work for someone else.

It is my lame opinion after serving as a manager for over thirty years that I would not only fire the perpetrator, but I would fire his direct supervisor for not knowing what the hell was going on. Lastly, I would get fired for not knowing what was going on in my area of responsibility.

When you work for the Federal government things are different.  Who cares what is going on? It’s only taxpayer money they waste so why not milk the system for everything it is worth?

The entire  EPA must be scrapped and a law passed to crucify anyone who comes up with another agency that has the same objectives as the EPA.

Opening Day At the 2013 Monet Vision

Ugh! Opening day in the garden is always a drag, and procrastination delayed my arrival. I love blogging and sat down this morning and even early this afternoon to write, but it didn’t happen. The temperature settled at 85 degrees and the little man inside my head kept urging me to go outside to enjoy the day. “Okay,” I told him, “quit nagging me.” I decided to take a baby step and to spend one hour outside. I even had a plan, i.e. start cleaning the bed behind the kitchen window. That will only take an hour. Three and a half hours later, I dragged my weary body in and collapsed, but at least I took a step.

2013-Monet Vision, Main Bed

2013-Monet Vision, Main Bed

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Cirsium Arvense, Thistle

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Grape Hyacinth

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Dandelion Puff Balls

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White Iris

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Lilly of the Valley beginning to bloom

My mind reeled with visions of work. Move the mums, split the wild geraniums, move the native hibiscus, trim the shrubs, dig out the five foot tall volunteer bush at the bird tower, move the day lilies into the sun, trim the shag bark birch, spray the dandelions, clean the leaves from the east side of the house, trim the Fallopia Japonica, cut back the shrubs along the east border, pull the weeds from the vegetable bed, and I haven’t even thought about buying any flowers yet. Oh my, what am I going to do? Take it one baby step at a time, that is what!

The first priority is to clean all maximum impact areas. What is a maximum impact area? Any flower bed that I can see from my chair at the kitchen table is a maximum impact area. There is an order of priority commencing from the chair, and progressing to the view standing at the kitchen window, to looking out the sunroom windows, to the bedroom windows, and finally, my neighbor’s view from his patio to the the far reaches of the yard.

Garden waste is always a problem for me. The village provides a pickup service, but I have to place the waste curbside in officially approved and tagged brown paper bags. That does not appeal to me at all. I prefer dumping garden waste into a pile beyond the lot line in the swamp. The EPA designation for swamp these days is “wetland.” Last year, the Wetlands Officer gave me a ticket for dumping evil grass clippings and dead dandelions on officially designated wetland property. The list of damage I subjected upon to the environment seemed endless. Further infractions of tossing horticultural matter into the swamp is punishable, and objectionable to the natural critters who consider the swamp their home.

When I finally came in, I went to my computer and googled NuWay Waste Disposal. That is the company that trucks our garbage and recyclables away. Eureka, they offer a yard waste disposal bin for a seasonal fee. The choice is to pay for the official brown bags, or for a handy waste container that gets picked up weekly. The Monet Vision produces a few square yards of horticultural matter every year, and the bin is a much more practical way to dispose of the waste. At least it is for me.

When the Frankfort Environmental Officer arrives to inspect my piece of the swamp, I will proudly point at my new garden waste bin and thumb my nose at him. Then, I will politely ask him what he will do to eradicate all the non-native thistle and doc migrating from his swamp into my horticultural masterpiece.

EPA Tentacles and Big Brother

Environmental Protection Agency Seal

Environmental Protection Agency Seal (Photo credit: DonkeyHotey)

FAIL

Have you ever wondered how the EPA is affecting your life? I’m not talking about how they purify the air or the drinking water supply (which they don’t do, your local community does that). I’m talking about how they get into your personal life in your own personal space.

At the beginning of April I received a nicely written letter from the Environmental Specialist of the Village of Frankfort. I’ve added A copy of the letter  below. The ES explains how I am breaking the law by dumping grass clippings behind my house. WTF, I was livid. That is why it has taken me so long to write about this matter. Had I written on the day I received the letter, I’d be in jail today.

Letter from Frankfort EPA police

I looked for the cited Village ordnance, and found the paragraph. It clearly states the prohibition of dumping yard waste. I am guilty, I dump grass clippings into a mulch pile at the back of my lot which backs up to an EPA defined wetland.

One would think based on the seriousness of this letter that I am dumping in a backyard neighbor’s property. I am not, in fact I am dumping horticultural organic matter into an area not inhabited by man. Most of us who went to high school understand that organic matter decays and returns to nature in the form of rich compost. It is beneficial to soil enrichment, and gardeners are encouraged to add compost to flower beds to the rebuild the soil.  At least that is what I learned in Master Gardener School. Evidently, the EPA and the Village of Frankfort do not understand that principle.

Many questions began to whirl through this aged brain like, how in the heck did they find my feeble grass pile? Who found it? Why did they even look for it? It must be my tax dollars at work. I asked myself how in the world can a small village like Frankfort afford to have an Environmental Specialist on its payroll? They have too much money is the answer. We are supposed to be a conservative town with conservative leaders. I’m beginning to understand the meaning of CINO (Conservative in Name Only). I know the Mayor, I think he is a great guy, he has done a good job of leading the town. He understands the need for commercial development, and the need to preserve our 1850’s charm, but I think he’s been mayor too long. He is beginning to believe the town belongs to him.

I reviewed my neighborhood on Google maps. These wonderful maps give us another perspective on what is going on around us. I want to show the size and scope of this wetland as compared to my grass pile. I learned some new things after looking closely. At first, the picture looked like the one I looked at when I bought this property seven years ago. Then, I began to notice details. My pond didn’t get built until five years ago, my tiny vegetable plot didn’t get added until three years ago, my neighbors new fire pit didn’t get installed until two years ago, and the trampoline the kids next door jump on didn’t arrive until last year. Hello, this is a brand new photo from space. What is that all about? Who pays for these photos, Google? Is it Google’s satellite circling the earth with a camera to make their maps more detailed? I don’t think so.

Regardless, you can see that I back up to a huge wetland and my grass pile pales in comparison. Don’t you see it?  It is the pixel to the left and above the red pointer

I zoomed my property to find the grass pile, and its deadly effect on the wetland. What I found was a new photo from space with all the new details I mentioned above. After examining this blow up closely, the lot line is easy to extrapolate from the neighbors on either side of me. The many trees and shrubs obscure my lot line. The grass pile is just inside the tree line, and I’m sure it does not encroach the wetland by more than six feet. More questions come to mind. How in the heck did they find my grass pile? They must be looking at better photos than I find on Google. Is this what the Environmental Specialist does? Look for grass piles?

Close up of my lot from Space

This explains why I saw two big guys having a conversation at the back of my lot a few months ago. They stood on my property thinking of reasons to send me a letter. After all, the grass pile creates a “hazard for village employees.”  They disappeared before I had a chance to challenge them. The simple fact is that this wetland is a Mid-western jungle of fallen Cottonwood trees, and an invasive species called Buckthorn, as well as Mulberry, wild grape, buck thistle, doc, poison ivy, and many things that I am not able to name.

My seven-year war has been on terrorist plants like the buck thistle that came directly from this wetland space. The thistle began invading years before my grass pile came into existence.

The Village recommends I buy yard waste bags (a major pain in the ass to use, and are expensive), or to hire a landscape service to mow and haul the clippings away to another wetland someplace (I did have a service until the economy crashed in 2008, and I felt I could not afford it any more), or I should have the trash collection company provide a yard waste container to haul the waste to some discrete wetland away from Frankfort.

It is my conclusion that someone in the Village government has a friend in the waste management business.

I hate to think of my grass pile causing the Charrington Dam to erode, or the invasion of noxious weeds to overtake the wetland, or to upset the balance of nature in such a way as to keep the hundreds of Canada Geese from nesting there. The Canada Geese, by the way, are overpopulating the entire southwestern suburbs and polluting many forest preserve and wetland areas. They also happen to come to my yard to crap all over the patio and to steal bird feed, along with all the opossum, raccoon, red fox, deer, snakes, and other critters that call the wetland home. Answer this, would all these creatures invade my yard if the dreaded grass pile was gone?

In the meantime, I switched to using the mulcher on the mower.

And that is how the EPA and Big Brother get into your shorts.

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