Dear Mr. Todd,
First, let me say thank you for taking the time to write us with your concerns.
You may want to take a moment or two to review our policies which should clear up some of your questions: http://usfreedomnetwork.com/about/u-s-freedom-network/.
We're located in Amsterdam, our websites are in Amsterdam and our actual domains are registered in Amsterdam. We have the above-cited policies in place because it appears everyone the U.S. Watchdogs takes on seems to have a "cadre of lawyers" or is a sitting judge or attorney. Unlike the U.S., over here you need a case with real merit, not just a fat pocket book, and many of the Billionaires and Multibillion Dollar companies we have investigated have found out for themselves that money and power do not have the ability to change facts to their favor. Also, in the Netherlands, we don't see many “cadres of attorneys” because the loser pays for frivolous lawsuits, freeing up the news media to publish real stories that affect real peoples’ lives.
However, it would be presumptuous on our part to think that the attorneys for the founder of eBay, eBay itself, Great West Insurance, a Microsoft Billionaire or for sitting judges and attorneys themselves, were better than your “cadre of lawyers”. And we mention just a few of those we have investigated who have made threats similar to yours. When we found they abused the power of their offices to take advantage of those who can't defend themselves, the stories were published. You may want to visit the entire family of the U.S. Freedom Network investigative websites around the globe which should demonstrate to you the weight carried by such threats.
Over in the United States, if your “cadre of lawyers” were responding to a complainant to one of your stories, they would most likely have told the party that a stated question is not in any manner implying anything, it is simply a question. Quoting material already published as having been published, is a fact. The facts we stated about the Sierra Wave and other local media, were this: we have never found even one story questioning any action of the Bishop BLM. Did we miss any? So the logical question we set forth is, why? These are not just legitimate questions, but very important ones, as most of Inyo county is to some extent, dependent on tourists visiting the numerous federal lands.
You seem to have forgotten that we sent you and the entire listed staff of the Sierra Wave a previous email about this matter, again, a matter which will have a very serious impact on the communities that support you. No one seems to have taken the time to look at the facts we uncovered. We didn't ask that you take our word for it, but assumed you were journalists, and as such, you would want to check it out for yourselves. We don't seem to be able to find an email from you concerning our prior email. Did we miss that as well?
We have no interest in publishing a story about you or the Sierra Wave, unless of course, we find proof that it knowingly hid facts, in which case that would be a coverup and an investigative story. In fairness, as of yet we have not found any such proof. If the Sierra Wave simply did not publish facts known to them that could have a serious and negative impact on the community, that is their choice to make. It is also a choice that their community certainly has a right to know about. Especially since it could put many of the community members on the unemployment line, and we will write about it.
Now that we have all stated our positions, how about staying on point and working together to stop something that is an absolute injustice to your community and to Senior Citizens, our main concern? The Bishop BLM field office is trying to sneak through an unwarranted rate increase by hiding and distorting the facts; holding the required meetings hundreds of miles away. Again, don't take our word for it. One of our readers sent the Southern BLM LTVAs an email regarding the Bishop BLM Field Office and what they’re attempting to do and asked if the Southern LTVAs were about to follow suit. Assuming the sender and BLM Officer gives us permission to do so, we will be sending you a copy of their official reply.
We are not your enemy on this. Review the press release the Bishop BLM Field Office got you to publish. This time, take the time to read it. Look at how they framed the long-term fee increase. Look at how they stated words to the effect that it was required “due to costs of hosting long-timers”. This is without merit, and there are no facts to support it. Look at Field Manager Steve Nelson’s email to people who wrote with objections to the fee increases after reading our announcement and how the meeting is in Sacramento, not in Inyo county. And why can Recreation Ranger Becky Hutto post announcements about everything else but the fee increase at all of the campground bulletin boards and bathroom doors and even on sawhorses at road entrances?
Then look at the email from the Southern BLM LTVAs on how they have handled, and will handle, fee increases. It is done correctly and legally, with local public announcements, including notices in the campgrounds themselves. They hold true local public hearings and provide a full disclosure of the facts and the reasons for any such proposed fee increases. Come to your own conclusion if the Southern BLM LTVAs are disavowing the Bishop BLM’s actions in their email.
The real question to ask the Bishop Field Office is, why are these campgrounds suddenly in need of additional funds? Remember, we're not talking a 10% - 20% increase, we're talking a 300% increase targeted to a specific group which in turn negatively affects a specific community, yours.
As we dug into this little mess at Inyo County, here is what we think is part of the reason for the fee increases. If you stop by the Lone Pine Visitors Center, ask them about their roof, which is covered in solar panels, and how it is helping with their electric bills and with “the environment”. We did and we found out that they have never been hooked up. Ask what they paid for the panels from the government-backed solar companies that went out of business. Ever wonder why the records of the Federal Court Bankruptcies for U.S.-backed Solar Company’s loans defaulted on were for $1.2 billion, yet our current administration claims only $500 million in losses? That's $700 million that somehow disappeared from record.
While this is preliminary, the numbers bear a much closer look. Solar Panels that retailed for $320 each by government-backed solar companies pre-bankruptsy, somehow got sold to our government agencies for what we estimate was about $1200 each, and as they came after the company’s bankruptcy filings were finalized, we would assume they should have been purchased at auction for at most $100 each. When you add this up from purchase records, you may find almost exactly that missing $700 million.
If these facts are verified, we will be publishing a full story on this shortly, complete with links to Federal Court and Government documents that are the basis of these facts. We are sure this will be picked up by the national media which has done so with our stories many times in the past.
Which brings us back to Inyo County fee increases. The Southern LTVAs host approximately 3000 – 5000 residents for the winter season. Many visitors are “snowbirds” who have homes in the north and come south for the winter, and only about half are full-timers. Most visitors are retired and on Social Security and/or pensions. The Southern LTVAs charge them $180 for the winter season.
Inyo has an estimated 100 - 200 of these visitors for the summer months, as the already near double $300 seasonal fee, we believe, keeps the rest away. These are not campers who come up to hike Mt. Whitney and who bring their own food and supplies, paying $5 for their campsite. These are people who become part of the community, spending millions of dollars in the local businesses each and every week. Do your own math, 1500 – 2500 summer residents averaging $1000 - $1500 in purchasers at your local businesses would generate $1.5 - $2.5 million dollars in revenue monthly. For a 6 month season, that's $9 million - $15 million in revenues. As the number of baby-boomers retiring increases with many becoming full-timers, these numbers will assuredly double or triple in the very near future. Also note that these BLM campgrounds are only occupied an estimated 10% - 15% of capacity, with only a couple of big weekends reaching near 50%.
More and more Inyo county residents are finding our websites and this information every day. However, we still hold out hope that, even though you're a small news outlet in a limited market, you will take the time to review and investigate these facts and that you too will make your Inyo county residents aware of them, giving them a chance to respond before it is too late. Wouldn't you agree that it is simply the right thing to do for your community?
We will keep this thread open for 48 hours for the sole purpose of hopefully working with you on this story. However, we have very strict contact guidelines: http://usfreedomnetwork.com/about/contact-us/. Keeping the thread open will only eliminate the “key code” requirements but it will pass through our AI Inspectors which will automatically “shred” any emails from you upon receipt which are not relevant to this story, as outlined in the above link concerning contacting us.
If you look at our websites, you will see we have worked with law-enforcement and district attorneys and many news agencies have published our stories. We hope we will be able to do the same with you and the Sierra Wave.
PS: Bob, you got me, reporter1 is not my real name!
Dated October 18, 2016