You Know My Name. You Heard My Story.
Now Read THE INVESTIGATION.
Choosing to Operate Within a Vacuum of Ethical Standards,
Holding Kangaroo Hearings &
Refusing to Work Together with the Populace . . .
Meet the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation,
the Most Hated & Dangerous Department in the State of New York.
I understand rehabilitators are not Ivory Tower residents, but they aren't stupid either. It's quite clear that when the DEC targets a licensee, it isn't done for public welfare or safety. There's no such thing as "good faith" when it comes to the actions of the DEC, especialy their Special Licenses Unit and Division of Law Enforcement. In fact, the reason why there are so few special license holders getting put through the ringer and having their licenses terminated is becasue the system is used purely for going after those who threaten the DEC and their interests - usually the sensitivity is ignited with the DEC when a member of the public exercises her freedom of thought and dares to criticize the agency.
NYSDEC has been an enemy of the freedom of thought and speech for quite some time now; so much so that the entire process, from start to finish, in taking someone's licenses away, a process which was meant to be used in good faith and in order to keep the system clean and the licenses on their toes, has been downgraded as far as it can go into the bowels of DEC's cellar of secrets created out of self-interest and a great deal of apathy.
It's not that some licensees make such egregious mistakes which render them unsafe to carry a license to rehabilitate wild animals or keep non-releasable animals but more or a personal vendetta on part of the NYSDEC. Violations of 6 NYCRR, 9 ECL are rampant and can be seen in every licensed facility here in New York State. The real reason why there are so few people put through the system of citations, town court and the hearings process at the DEC is that the DEC has a nasty habit of hitting below the belt, taking cheap shots at people who dare to exercise freedom of thought and speech.
If you notice the people this department has gone after who have had licenses like the LCP and LWR taken away, especially via the hearings & "mediation" department, you will notice the defendants share very similar characteristics -- namely they all are very outspoken critics of the NYSDEC. Furthermore, the vast majority of the victims are female small business owners - some of whom have had their businesses obliterated by defamation and nasty shenanigans, like false accusations and "padded" (or the overcharging of) citations, often initiated by the trout troopers in the field, fueled by the Special Licenses Unit (SLU) with the added privilege of having attorneys cover up the means used in doing so.
The hearings all end in guilty verdicts, no matter what. The harshest penalty is levied upon the person which partly or entirely entails revoking licensure. However, you will rarely see big corporate America have its permit revoked as quickly for proportionately erroneous deeds they commit.. In contrast, for licensees, if the AJI recommends leniency, it will always be overturned by the Commissioner, regardless of who is Commissioner at the time. The hearings are rigged partly because the standard of proof is even lower in DEC's Administrative Court than in civil court, and therefore, they are a great waste of time and resources. In fact, hearings should be optional if someone wants to appeal the final decision via an Article 78 Proceeding. Unfortunately, as of now, a litigant is required to exhaust all possible remedies through the agency on the state level, before appealing to the Supreme Court, which means that the hearing must be conducted no matter how useless it is. So, when you get there, kick back, take your shoes off and rest your feet on the table and relax! Just treat it is a conversation among old friends.
Even the state courts normally uphold the judgments of the Commissioners, whether they have merit or not. It has been written that all the department has to do is put any reason down "on the dotted line" for the denial or revocation of a license to be granted by a Supreme Court Justice. It is in federal court where many litigants find greater success on the merits of their case. Why? Less political lein of the Court, fewer gods to serve ... it's that sort of thing, at least how some see it.
According to the actions of the DEC, exercising our rights, especially as outspoken, critical citizens, is illegal. These rights are the ones which hurt the feelings of their officers and frustrate the other staff members because they just can't seem to control critics, even after tarnishing good reputations, destroying business resources, taking away licensing and stealing property.
This is why I find the new face of the DEC's website (seen to the right) rather amusing as it serves as the best oxymoron I've ever seen! Must be the message on the screen applies only to the "helpers"; that is, those who share the DEC's hidden agenda of increasing regulation to an all-time high, and, in turn, further stifle education, inspiration and creative thought. Diversity, even biodiversity, is an idea to be feared throughout the DEC and those who dare to be different pay the price eventually. Licensure is treated like an exclusive club - admittees sharing the same belief systems as various influential members of the DEC staff and thus have maintained licensure the longest, regardless of the licensee's incompetency of unlawful actions. Oh, and, by the way, the home page on the DEC website changed and the image with the beautiful quote about speaking up taking off. This is not surprising. Silence is what the DEC counts on in continuing the abuses they perpetrate against the public year after year.
If someone could use some strategic advice if they are the newest target of delicensing by the NYSDEC, my advice would be 1. skip the hearing, no matter what you are going to lose; 2. either represent yourself to appeal the agency's final decision or hire an attorney; 4. If you go as far as the appellate court and still haven't hired an attorney, hire one! Be careful of the kind of attorney you choose - do your research on attorneys throughout the state starting with those closest to you; 5. Consider a civil rights case against the Department. This Department must held accountable for their abuses against the public!
Seeing how the DEC wants us to believe it's turning over a new leaf, I will continue on and do just that - I will not become silent about the things that matter. I bet, within a week, I will be experiencing some type of retaliation from the DEC for my thoughts and opinions. With nothing more to lose, I am ready to help turn the tables.