Monthly Archives: April, 2014

SILVER SCREEN FEDS: Interior IG finds Leslie Knope abused authority

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SPOILER ALERT: The NBC sitcom Parks and Recreation ended its sixth season last night with the endlessly-optimistic public servant Leslie Knope becoming a federal employee by accepting a job as the National Park Service’s Midwest Regional Director, and then talking her new boss into relocating the office to her hometown of Pawnee, Indiana. Which is great news for the show’s viewers, but raises troubling questions about multiple violations of civil service rules. FedLine has exclusively obtained a copy of the Interior Department’s inspector general report into Regional Director Knope’s activities: To: Jonathan Jarvis, director, National Park Service From: Mary Kendall,…

Not with a bang but with a high-pitched whimper. The slow death of the federal helium program

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On Oct. 1, 2013 the federal government became the victim of a gridlocked Congress and began to shut down. Hundreds of thousands of workers were furloughed without notice while many more kept working – unsure of when they would be paid. Just one day later the 50 or so employees at the Bureau of Land Management’s Cliffside Gas Field – the last remaining federal helium plant – breathed a sigh of relief. The facility had only been allowed to operate until Oct. 7, but Congress had managed to finalize legislation that would keep the facility open for more than six…

When is a wedding plan so awesome the Coast Guard gets involved?

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You know your wedding day will be memorable when it triggers a series of environmental reviews and a proposed rule from the federal government. That is definitely the case for a lucky person named “Ellie,’ whose planned wedding fireworks display on June 27 about 1.5 miles into the Long Island Sound near Greenwich, Conn., had to be approved by the U.S. Coast Guard. Because the fireworks will be launched from a barge in navigable waterways, the Coast Guard had to perform an environmental impact review and formally establish a temporary safety zone. “This temporary rule proposes to establish a safety…

How many people get arrested at Burning Man? The answer will surprise you.

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Every year at the end of August nearly 70,000 people descend on Black Rock Desert in Pershing County, Nevada to take part in the celebration of radical self expression known as Burning Man. And for many people it’s synonymous with drug use and burning a giant wooden man in the middle of the desert. But according to the Bureau of Land Management — which has jurisdiction over government land and the Burning Man festival grounds in particular — the number of people cited or arrested is quite low for its size and duration. In 2013 only 6 people out of…

Man at heart of $500 million contracting scandal arrested, charged with murder

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Braulio Castillo first became famous when he was the subject of a House investigation into how he parlayed a 30-year-old prep school ankle injury into getting $500 million in contracts in the form of a special service-disabled veteran status for his company Signet Computers. He suffered the injury while attending the U.S. Military Academy Preparatory School in 1984 but played football the next year at the University of San Diego. In 2012 he filed a claim with the Veterans Affairs office to get the special status as a service-disable veteran. His special status helped get his company Signet Computers (renamed…