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WARNING! BOR! WARNING!
Me thinketh thou doth protest to much
By Pat Ratliff
Klamath Courier staff writer
Published December 28, 2005
Did I ever open a can of worms with my recent column about the BOR Undepleted Natural Flow Study! I still canít believe it.
I expected some in the Bureau of Reclamation to react strongly to my column, I took a pretty good, (and justified) shot at them. The response I got was more than I ever expected. In fact, it was so strong, it raises more questions, but thatís for a later column.
I received a call from the BOR telling me there was an inaccuracy in my column. The inaccuracy, in fact, had to do with the sixty day review period. There is no review period, I was told. I was asked to print a correction in the next issue of the Klamath Courier, which I did, and I was happy to do so.
There is a small problem though. There actually is a review period. The study has been sent to the National Academy of Sciences for review. It should take over a year to complete.
Part of the problem seems to be that someone mistakenly thought the Bureau of
Reclamation was going to listen to what non scientists thought about the study. Silly you! There is no ďpublic comment period.Ē
Evidently, the Bureau has no interest in whether anyone out there finds errors or inconsistencies, because they donít want to hear from you. If they did, there would be a public comment period.
Their thinking is flawed in my estimation. I hate to put it in terms like this but, they work for us taxpayers. They may not want to, but they need to be prepared for the fact that those people who are most affected by the selective science of this report definitely DO have opinions and input that deserve to be heard.
In the end, a flawed report means somewhere down the line, the BOR will get a bundle of taxpayer money and have to do another report. To those having to live with the results of that flawed report, it can mean disaster.
A slight inconvenience vs. disaster. Disaster vs. a slight inconvenience. You tell me. I think they had damned well better listen to anything anyone can add to make this study more complete.
Oh yea, weíve all read the ĎItís very scientific, and a complex scientific toolí jargon. In non Bureau of Reclamation speak, I read that as, ďWeíre the experts and youíre not, we donít want to deal with you.Ē
I want to throw out another thought here, on the topic of public comment. Everyday of the year is a day for public comment. Call the Bureau of Reclamation regularly, and let them know how you feel they are doing. Same thing with e-mails, Iím sure theyíd love to hear from you. Letís not call it comment though. Weíre not allowed to comment. That just muddies the water. Letís call it public communication, shall we? It even has a kind of new age sound to it. Iím sure we can all feel good about ourselves after calling.
I canít believe everyone on the governmental food chain doesnít want to hear from you though. Thatís just too hard to believe. Iím going to suggest we start right at the top.
At the end of this column, Iíve provided every name and phone number I could get, from Gayle Norton on down. Let them know your feelings also. At the least monthly, but weekly would be even better. Let them know how you think they are doing, good or bad. Maybe someone at the top would be more responsive to the taxpayer. John Keyes, head of the BOR seemed like a very nice guy when he spoke here last spring, Iím sure heís interested in what you have to say.
The point is we donít have to just accept the fact that they arenít interested in what we say. Nothing may be changed in the report, but they will hear you, eventually.
Remember, we may not be allowed to comment, but I think it is our right to communicate, if not our duty. Whether we have a right to communicate or not, if you call they will pick up the phone.
What happened next in my weird week with the BOR is even more amusing, or astounding, depending upon your perspective, I guess.
I received an e-mail Wednesday morning, sent to a number of people nationwide, not just locals, attributing me and my column with spreading mis-information. The mis-information I was supposedly spreading was that there was a 60 day comment period. The letter was written by one of the very higher- uppers in the local office of the Bureau of Reclamation. The letter even referred to my column, and named both me and the Klamath Courier. The only problem was, no where in my column did the word comment appear. I never said there was a comment period at all; I said there was a 60 day review period. The difference between a comment period and a review period is quite obvious. Evidently, he was so overjoyed at the prospect of labeling me as spreading mis-information, that he felt the need to do it himself. I wonder how much of the report he wrote. Hmmmm.
Something about this really sticks in my craw. Me thinketh someone is protesting way to much.
I like a good black helicopter conspiracy story as much as the next guy, but Iím also realistic enough to know Iím certainly not high enough on anyoneís list to merit a concerted effort to discredit me.
I think in the end, it just boils down to depressed Bureau of Reclamation folks who know their study was a $750,000 (their figure) piece of shiznit. I feel sorry for them, especially at holiday time. My column just happened to be the first one out commenting on the study, Iím sure weíll see many more.
I know, I know, this is a highly scientific piece of work done to develop a model for future use. Thatís just exactly what scares me so much about it. I will concede though, it really is a piece of work.
The information coming out of a model is only as good as the information going into it. If the information going in is filled with estimates and guesses and taken from incomplete data, then what do we have when we are done? Is it any better than the guesses you or I could make right now?
Iíll make my offer to the U.S. government again. The next study (or when they decide this one wonít cut the mustard), Iíll do it for a thousand dollars less than the BOR. Thatís $749,000 (my figures), and Iíll do it in a year. Thatís a hefty $1000 savings to the taxpayer. The data it provides will be filled with guesses and suppositions just as the current study is. The quality and integrity of the ďFINALĒ study will still be there. I would also entertain a discussion of a multi-year, multi-study deal, but I think I need an agent for that, and then weíll do lunch.
Official Retraction of a Retraction, or, I Correct my Correction. After sifting through the mis-information handed me by the Bureau of Reclamation, I want to clarify just what was wrong with my original column. I originally said there was a sixty day review period. That was wrong. There is no 60 day time limit on it. But there is a review period. The National Academy of Sciences will be reviewing it for approximately a year. I hope everyone else takes this approximately year long review process to let the good folks at the Bureau of Mis-information know what they think of the report, again and again and again, whether they want it or not.
Phone numbers and addresses for ďPublic CommunicationĒ.
Department of the Interior
1849 C Street, N.W.
Washington, DC 20240
Hint: Youíll probably never get to talk to Gayle Norton. Iím thinking of asking for Ďcousin Gayleí or something like that. It just might work.
Bureau of Reclamation
1849 C Street NW
Washington, DC 20240
Phone: 202-513-0501 (phone)
Hint: I might try the old ĎIím Ed McMahon and John has just won $20,000,000 routineí.
Kirk C. Rogers, Regional Director
Mid Pacific Regional Office
Federal Office Building
2800 Cottage Way
Sacramento, CA 95825
Phone: 916-978-5000 (phone)
Dave Sabo, Area Manager
Klamath Basin Area Manager
6600 Washburn Way
Klamath Falls, Oregon 97603
Phone: 541-883-6935 (phone)
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