8-1-16 Bipartisan request to NPS Jarvis : What Are You Doing About Sexual Harassment And Misconduct?

National Parks Traveler

Bipartisan Request To National Park Service: What Are You Doing About Sexual Harassment And Misconduct?

By Kurt Repanshek on August 1st, 2016

Concerned that the National Park Service is not taking adequate steps to root out sexual harassment and misconduct in the Service, members of Congress have asked National Park Service Director Jon Jarvis to provide three reports from more than a decade ago that looked into the problems so they can “understand NPS’s response to sexual harassment and misconduct.”

The request (attached below), signed by Republican House members Jason Chaffetz of Utah, chair of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, and Cynthia Lummis of Wyoming, and Democratic House members Elijah E. Cummings of Maryland and Brenda L. Lawrence of Michigan, comes less than a month before the National Park Service celebrates its 100th birthday.

The specter of how widespread sexual harassment and misconduct might be across the ranks of the National Park Service, which counts roughly 20,000 employees, has lingered all year in the background of the buildup to the centennial celebration. It first arose in January with the release of a report from the Interior Department’s Office of Inspecter General that described a 15-year chapter of sordid behavior among the staff of Grand Canyon National Park’s River District Office.

The investigation generated a tawdry list of inappropriate behavior, from male employees taking photographs up under a female co-worker’s dress and groping female workers to women dancing provocatively and bringing a drinking straw “shaped like a penis and testicles” to river parties. The incidents, a September 2014 letter to Interior Secretary Sally Jewell charged, “demonstrated evidence of ‘discrimination, retaliation, and a sexually hostile work environment.’”

The agency’s most recent struggles with misconduct and sexual harassment date to the 1990s, when the Park Service reached an Equal Employment Opportunity settlement “that stemmed from complaints of harassment and gender bias in promotions at Grand Canyon National Park,” the letter to Director Jarvis noted. “The task force found NPS was unable to retain women in law enforcement positions due to gender bias, sexual harassment and hostile work environments. Over half of the female park rangers who responded to the survey experienced sexual harassment on the job, and eighty percent knew someone who experienced harassment but did not report it for fear of retaliation.

“The Park Service has been aware of problems with sexual harassment since 2000, but is responding to these more recent incidents with yet another survey,” the letter said. “This response is especially disappointing in light of the fact that some of the same officials handling the Park Service’s response to these cases were involved in 2000.”

More recently, OIG investigators in June reported that they had “found that a law enforcement supervisor at Canaveral National Seashore made an unwanted sexual advance toward his subordinate, a law enforcement employee, in December 2015. In addition, we found a pattern of harassment involving this supervisor and two other (Seashore) employees.”

Our investigation revealed that over the past 5 years, the law enforcement supervisor has shown a pattern of sexual harassment involving the law enforcement employee and two other female employees at CANA. We found that on December 4, 2015, he took the law enforcement employee to the home of a park volunteer and made an unwanted sexual advance toward her in the volunteer’s bedroom. We also found that he sexually harassed another employee in 2015 by repeatedly complimenting her on her physical appearance, giving her unwanted and unsolicited tokens of affection, asking her out on dates, and attempting to engage her in conversation about sexually explicit content in movies. In 2011, he harassed the third employee by repeatedly asking her out and calling her on her personal cell phone after duty hours.

Overall, the law enforcement supervisor refused to accept full responsibility for his actions concerning any of the three women. He also provided vague and contradictory answers to our interview questions and demonstrated a lack of candor during multiple interviews about the incident with the law enforcement employee, and denied ever sexually harassing the other two CANA employees.

In their letter to Director Jarvis, sent this past Thursday, the congressmen and women noted that the problem of sexual misconduct and harassment has plagued the agency even though top leadership long has known of it. For example, they pointed to Sue Masica, director of the Park Service’s Intermountain Region, the largest in the system. They noted that she was a member of the Park Service’s Leadership Council that in November 2000 received the Women In Law Enforcement Task Force report that examined the earlier problem of sexual harassment at Grand Canyon.

“The fact that the Park Service’s cultural problems have persisted for at least sixteen years shows the Park Service’s response to the (WLET) task force’s findings was ineffective, and fresh ideas are necessary,” the letter stated.

“The final WLET report recommended that NPS institute a training program and a hotline for reporting grievances to the EEO office, among other recommendations that were to be completed by October 2005,” the letter went on. “The Park Service never implemented any of these recommendations. It should come as no surprise that NPS is still plagued by the same serious issues.”

According to the congressmen and women, “(T)o date, however, conversations with the OIG have revealed no final agency action had been taken against any senior-level personnel as a result of the OIG’s findings” in either the Grand Canyon or Canaveral cases.

The three requested documents.

Former Grand Canyon Superintendent Dave Uberuaga did retire this past June 1, rather than take a transfer to the Park Service’s headquarters in Washington, D.C. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell and Director Jarvis in mid-July announced that Christine Lehnertz, superintendent of Golden Gate National Recreation Area in California, would take the helm at Grand Canyon.

08-01-16 Laura Watt’s Book available now: The Paradox of Preservation: Wilderness & Working Landscapes at PRNS

Available now at Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0520277082/ref=kinw_rke_rti_1

 

The Paradox of Preservation: Wilderness and Working Landscapes at Point Reyes National SeashorePaperback– November 29, 2016

by

Laura Alice Watt (Author)

 

Point Reyes National Seashore has a long history as a working landscape, with dairy and beef ranching, fishing, and oyster farming; yet, since 1962 it has also been managed as a National Seashore. The Paradox of Preservation chronicles how national ideals about what a park “ought to be” have developed over time and what happens when these ideals are implemented by the National Park Service (NPS) in its efforts to preserve places that are also lived-in landscapes. Using the conflict surrounding the closure of the Drakes Bay Oyster Company, Laura Alice Watt examines how NPS management policies and processes for land use and protection do not always reflect the needs and values of local residents. Instead, the resulting landscapes produced by the NPS represent a series of compromises between use and protection—and between the area’s historic pastoral character and a newer vision of wilderness. A fascinating and deeply researched book, The Paradox of Preservation will appeal to those studying environmental history, conservation, public lands, and cultural landscape management, or to those looking to learn more about the history of this dynamic California coastal region.

7-28-16 House Committee on Oversight demands unredacted reports re sexual harassment from NPS Dir Jon Jarvis

More on Jarvis.

 

https://oversight.house.gov/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/2016-07-28-JEC-EEC-CL-BL-to-Jarvis-NPS-Misconduct-Letter-due-8-11-REDACTED.pdf

 

The House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform just sent a bi-partisan letter to NPS Director Jarvis demanding certain specified unredacted reports and documents related to on-going sexual harassment issues and policies be submitted to the Committee within two weeks.

 

The letter was signed by Chairman Chaffetz (R-UT) and Ranking Dem, Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD) at the Full Committee AND Rep. Cynthia Lummis (R-WY), Chair, Subcommittee on Interior and her ranking Member, Rep. Brenda Lawrence (D-MI).

07-27-16 PEER: Jarvis Been Asked to Remain but #2, a woman, OUT

In the face of a rising chorus urging his firing, National Park Service (NPS) Director Jon Jarvis has been asked to remain through the end of the Obama term, according to meeting minutes posted today by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER). Instead, the number two NPS official and highest-ranking female, Margaret (Peggy) O’Dell, will be leaving by the end of July.

In this its centennial year, the Park Service has been buffeted by a series of scandals, including highly publicized reports of female staff being propositioned or otherwise harassed in places ranging from Arizona’s Grand Canyon National Park to Florida’s Canaveral National Seashore. In a radio interview last week, Interior Secretary Sally Jewell admitted that these incidents may be “just the tip of the iceberg…I’m sure that as we investigate this, we will find there is a bigger issue, a culture that allows these things to go on that needs to change …What needs to change is really a function of leadership.”

Yet change at the NPS will not start at the top. Minutes from a July 11, 2016 meeting of the NPS National Leadership Council, consisting of Jarvis, top deputies and regional directors, indicate that:

“Jon Jarvis will NOT be resigning. The Department has asked him to stay and given him their full support. He will be retiring in January 2017.” (Emphasis in original)

Meanwhile, Peggy O’Dell, a 37-year agency veteran and Deputy Director for Operations since 2011, is abruptly retiring, a departure thus far not marked with the usual official announcement.

 

 

For Immediate Release: Jul 20, 2016
Contact: Kirsten Stade (202) 265-7337

NATIONAL PARK SERVICE LEADERSHIP SHAKEN NOT STIRRED

Top Woman Out; Top Men Remain Amid Sex Harassment, Ethics & Other Scandals

Posted on Jul 20, 2016 | Tags: NPS

Washington, DC — In the face of a rising chorus urging his firing, National Park Service (NPS) Director Jon Jarvis has been asked to remain through the end of the Obama term, according to meeting minutes posted today by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER). Instead, the number two NPS official and highest-ranking female, Margaret (Peggy) O’Dell, will be leaving by the end of July.

In this its centennial year, the Park Service has been buffeted by a series of scandals, including highly publicized reports of female staff being propositioned or otherwise harassed in places ranging from Arizona’s Grand Canyon National Park to Florida’s Canaveral National Seashore. In a radio interview last week, Interior Secretary Sally Jewell admitted that these incidents may be “just the tip of the iceberg…I’m sure that as we investigate this, we will find there is a bigger issue, a culture that allows these things to go on that needs to change …What needs to change is really a function of leadership.”

Yet change at the NPS will not start at the top. Minutes from a July 11, 2016 meeting of the NPS National Leadership Council, consisting of Jarvis, top deputies and regional directors, indicate that:

“Jon Jarvis will NOT be resigning. The Department has asked him to stay and given him their full support. He will be retiring in January 2017.” (Emphasis in original)

Meanwhile, Peggy O’Dell, a 37-year agency veteran and Deputy Director for Operations since 2011, is abruptly retiring, a departure thus far not marked with the usual official announcement. She is slated to be replaced on August 1 by Mike Reynolds, currently the NPS Associate Director for Workforce, Relevancy and Inclusion, the post directly responsible for preventing sexual harassment and related problems.

“Ousting your top female executive while keeping or promoting the responsible senior males does not bode well for improving the Park Service’s gender culture,” stated PEER Executive Director Jeff Ruch, noting that no reason was given for O’Dell’s sudden stepdown. “Until these serious personnel knots are unraveled it may be imprudent to elevate the official who has been in charge of workplace ‘inclusion.’”

Jarvis has been recently reprimanded for ethics violations in fundraising and PEER is currently suing NPS to force release of records showing Jarvis’ potentially improper reliance on corporate jets. Last month, he was taken to task for failure to hold miscreant park superintendents and other employees to account in a brutal oversight hearing in which Jarvis’ nonresponses fanned bipartisan frustration. Citizen petitions are now circulating which call for his removal, a call echoed by a few Republican Congressmen.

The July meeting notes indicate that “Jarvis is focusing his last six months on workforce…in developing a more ‘inclusive, welcoming, respectful’ organizational culture.”

“By virtually every measure, Jon Jarvis has been the worst Director of the National Park Service in memory,” Ruch added, pointing to a litany of resource protection retreats, overlooked violations and highly questionable maneuvers during Jarvis’ tenure. “If he has failed to inspire any positive change in more than six years why would one expect him to be able to do so in less than six months?”

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See the meeting minutes

Watch excruciating House oversight hearing on Jarvis

Look at Jarvis reprimand and plans to transform superintendents into fundraisers

Read PEER suit seeking records of Jarvis’ improper reliance on corporate jets

View official announcement of O’Dell’s appointment as deputy director

Scan litany of scandals on Jarvis’ watch

07-01-16 Sen. Murkowski Urges Park Service to Hire Alaskans

“The Park Service is celebrating its 100th anniversary this August, and it saddens me to continue seeing reports of employee misconduct, mismanagement, and ethics violations—including the Director himself—coming out of the agency. Alaskans, and all Americans, love our National Parks. I will continue to work to ensure that their ethics and management issues, including these hiring practices in Alaska, do not continue as a cloud over the agency as it enters its next century.”

 

 

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

July 1, 2016

Permalink

 

CONTACT: Nicole Daigle 202.224.2576

 

 

Sen. Murkowski Urges Park Service to Hire Alaskans 

 

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, today expressed her disappointment with the National Park Service’s (NPS) decision to select a non-Alaskan as superintendent at Sitka National Historical Park.

 

“I am extremely disappointed by yesterday’s announcement of yet another hiring of a non-Alaskan for a high-level position within the Alaska NPS Region, particularly at Sitka,” said Murkowski. “It does not appear that serious consideration was given to hiring local candidates for the superintendent position, despite input from the local community. The Park Service has given lip service to the importance of local hiring lately, but they need to start putting these plans into action.”

“The Park Service is celebrating its 100th anniversary this August, and it saddens me to continue seeing reports of employee misconduct, mismanagement, and ethics violations—including the Director himself—coming out of the agency. Alaskans, and all Americans, love our National Parks. I will continue to work to ensure that their ethics and management issues, including these hiring practices in Alaska, do not continue as a cloud over the agency as it enters its next century.”

Murkowski is the Chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.

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Energy.Senate.Gov

Note: Please do not reply to this email. This mailbox is unattended. For further information, please contact Nicole Daigle at 202-224-2576. Visit our website at http://energy.senate.gov

 

 

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