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NFC: conflicts of interest

>On a more serious note, isn't it a shame that membership in a "conservation
>group" is considered a conflict of interest for employees of the USFWS?  I
>can understand PETA or ELF - organizations with policies of property
>destruction - but the NFC?  What the hell is the USFWS for anyway?
>I'd bet that membership in NAMBLA or its legal arm, the ACLU, isn't a
>conflict of interest or grounds for a course in ethics.

It gets to be pretty complex for us. I can be a member of any group I want, 
as long as I don't vote or direct policy of that group in any way, shape, or 
form.  When it comes to being a voting member of organizations, I have to 
stick to organizations that in no way interact with the USFWS.  For example, 
I could be on my homeowner's board (if my neighborhood had such a thing :) ) 
and vote with no problem.  But if the homeowners group decided that we 
wanted to change the flood control system into natural wetlands and for some 
reason we had to get a permit from the USFWS, I would have to quit the 
board.  Anything that might be made easier for one or both organizations by 
my being a member in both is considered a conflict.  This is exasperating 
for honest people just out to do the right thing as much as possible in this 
crazy world.  But at the same time, you also have to look at the individuals 
out there who couldn't care less about the good of the whole, or anything 
else besides their own personal agenda and advancement.  And while I would 
say on the whole the vast majority of people who work for the FWS fall into 
the first category (we just don't get enough out of this otherwise!), there 
is a definite minority that falls into the latter.  I've worked with a 
handful like that.  And when it comes to those particular people I thank 
heavens for the conflict-of-interest rules, because at least one of them 
could do some significant damage if she was allowed free run.
Some people--both good & bad--do tricky things to get around it.  For 
example, if I really wanted desperately to influence a group, I could have 
my husband be a voting board member & use him essentially as my proxy. 
(which, being a nice guy, he's volunteered to do on occassion...though I've 
yet to take him up on it).

As for what the USFWS is for, according to Congress we are to A) attempt to 
carry out the ESA with no money & prohibited from using the methods that 
work best B) be a dumping ground for all the old military and DOE sites that 
they don't want to deal with anymore (ex: Rocky Flats, Jefferson Proving 
Grounds) C) provide them with good photo ops for campaign purposes D) manage 
twice the land with 1/8 the budget of the NPS E) enforce all international 
wildlife treaties with only enough staff to do 1/100 of the job.  Just to 
give you guys an idea of what the Refuge System & FWS goes through, a single 
test of the proposed missile defense system costs more than our entire 
annual budget for the whole system.  Given the resources, the FWS could be 
great for a lot of things.  But we aren't, so we do the best we can and try 
not to get to frustrated and depressed.


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