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Kearns and West: Corporate Criminals
by David Gurney
Sunday Jun 10th, 2012 9:42 AM
According to a June 2010 press release, "Kearns and West has been known to gather scientific experts and build a movement of common interest “stakeholders” to crush public outcry and true environmentalism."
see: http://noyonews.net/?p=6231

Kearns and West Inc., the same "Collaboration and Strategic Communications" company that ran public meetings for the corrupt Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) "Initiative" [and who illegally barred public recording and comment at their public meetings] has also been accused of running manipulative "public workshops" for the BLM - in the controversial roundup of wild horses in northern Nevada, and other Western States.

According to a June 2010 press release, "Kearns and West has been known to gather scientific experts and build a movement of common interest “stakeholders” to crush public outcry and true environmentalism."

Although Kearns and West, Inc. claims to represent the public and the environment, and impartially facilitate public meetings, in reality they represent energy interests. They function to facilitate government approval for private projects, and shift policy in favor of private "stakeholder" interests. They specialize in marginalizing and excluding public involvement - with contrived and manipulative "stakeholder collaboration" processes.

Interestingly, in the Brave New World of modern day environmental policy, private interests, not tax dollars, are financing public policy processes and decisions. These processes were once taxpayer supported, and deemed to be fair and impartial. But now, with governments going broke, governmental processes and the agencies entrusted to design, control and regulate corporate industrial interests, have been bought and paid for by the same corporate interests they are supposed to regulate.

Corporate crooks such as Kearns and West have stepped in the void, to conduct what are ostensibly public meetings, but in reality are paid for by private corporations and individuals. The MLPA "Initiative" was a classic example of corruption easing it's way into a bankrupt democracy.

Kearns and West contracts out what are essential out public policy endeavors. But they serve the private corportations and individuals who pay for their services - to create favorable governmental outcomes for proposed "projects."

Kearns and West's clients are a laundry-list of energy and natural gas interests. They are cashing in on what once would have been unacceptable, criminal conflict of interest in determining public policy.

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In the case mentioned below, Kearns and West was allegedly involved in helping to exterminate wild horses from Northern Nevada, so that the Ruby Pipeline could go through. The Ruby Pipeline is a 42 inch diameter natural gas pipeline, that as of last year, runs from 680 miles from Wyoming to Oregon, and passes right through the heart of the wild horse country in Northern Nevada.

According to many in the west, the wild horses were an obstacle to the pipeline project that the BLM (Bureau of Land Management) did not want to deal with. So in comes Kearns and West - to hold "public workshops." But why is a company with direct ties to natural gas and energy interests - running public meetings and workshops, supposedly on behalf of the public - on an issue between wild horses, public land, and a natural gas pipeline project?

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There is nothing more heartbreaking than seeing helicopters terrorizing the beautiful wild mustangs, a living icon of the American West. The 2010 press release below is part of a tragedy that is continuing to this very day.

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From a June, 2010 press release by the Cloud Foundation:

Spin Doctors Hired for the Destruction of America’s Wild Horse and Burro Herds

Denver, CO (June 14, 2010)—The Cloud Foundation has learned that the San Francisco based public relations and public affairs firm, Kearns and West, with ties to big energy and offices across the country, has been hired to push the Salazar Plan for Wild Horses and Burros through Congress in Fall 2010—despite public outrage. Kearns and West has expertise in crisis management as well as accomplishing policy and regulatory goals. Their clients range from Mineral Management Services (MMS) and PG&E to Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). The Department of Interior (DOI) has enlisted the firm using the Institute for Environmental Conflict Resolution (ECR) as the go between. Senior mediator of Kearns and West, J. Michael Harty will facilitate an unprecedented public workshop in Denver, Colorado at the Magnolia Hotel, 818 17th Street, on June 14th followed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Public Advisory Board Meeting on June 15th. Both days will be live-streamed and viewing available on http://www.thecloudfoundation.org. The public and members of Congress are encouraged to watch. The public will protest on June 15th from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. with a press conference at noon.

BLM’s recently announced and highly polished but unsubstantial, “Strategy Plan” as well as their association with PR firm Kearns and West, appears designed to manipulate the public and marginalize the opposition to the Salazar Plan for wild horses and burros. The plan calls for the purchase of Eastern and Midwestern “preserves” populated by sterilized wild horses, captured from their Western ranges.

“This is ALL about manipulating public opinion. And ramming ONE thing – Salazar’s Plan – through” states author R.T. Fitch.

The Kearns and West Salazar Plan Executive Summary states, ‘The U.S. Institute for Environmental Conflict Resolution (‘Institute’) is assisting BLM in assessing stakeholder interests and developing an effective stakeholder engagement plan for the Strategy.’ Disturbingly, BLM often does not include the public as a stakeholder in their planning documents regarding the management of wild horses and burros.

“Who is the biggest stakeholder in the discussion of the public’s land and its wild horses if not the public?” asks Terri Farley, author of the Phantom Stallion series, adding “A public agency must represent the public and utilize taxpayer dollars responsibly—not spend excessively on another private contractor.”

According to their website, Kearns and West offers their clients (in this case the BLM) ‘A compelling credible, resonant case. True, high-impact support for your position.’ Advocates support a new direction that abandons the endless, expensive cycle of roundup, removal, and warehousing. BLM must adopt a far less expensive path that is kinder to the land and the wild horses legally living there, one that contains truly transparent solutions, not a slick, taxpayer-funded PR campaign.

“By hiring a high powered PR and Public Affairs firm, it seems that BLM is aiming to extinguish the opposition rather than solve the controversy over their management of our wild herds,” explains Ginger Kathrens, Volunteer Executive Director of the Cloud Foundation. “The public by the thousands has shared their opposition to the Salazar Plan. I hope we can sit down at this public forum and seriously talk about a moratorium on roundups while we work to reinstate protections that are consistent with the intent of the 1971 Wild Horse and Burro Act.”

According to The Holmes Report, “Kearns & West recognizes the important value of collaborating both with our clients and their stakeholders. For more than 20 years, the firm has employed its unique brand of stakeholder-centric strategic communications and collaboration processes to design innovative, but pragmatic programs, achieving superior results for clients in the federal, state and local government, private and nonprofit sectors. Kearns & West works with tough issues and big ideas.”

Besides specializing in ‘accomplishing policy and regulatory goals’ Kearns and West also represents PG&E—a primary customer in the Ruby Pipeline natural gas project threatening public lands and five public herds with environmental devastation from Wyoming to Oregon. Kearns and West also represents Duke Energy, the Association of Western Governors and the US Fish and Wildlife Service, among others.

While Secretary Salazar vowed to restore the Interior Department’s ‘respect for scientific integrity’ he has failed to consider science, reason, or even the law when it comes to managing our wild herds. Kearns and West has been known to gather scientific experts and build a movement of common interest “stakeholders” to crush public outcry and true environmentalism. Wild horse advocates feel the Kearns and West prepared Salazar report for Congress will be biased in favor of big energy ties with DOI at the expense of federally protected wild horses who somehow are in the way of ‘The New Energy Frontier’.

“We hope Monday’s workshop will be a productive one rather than a demonstration of BLM’s inability to change,” concludes Kathrens.

# # #
§K+W=Public Manipulation
by David Gurney Sunday Jun 10th, 2012 6:01 PM
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Companies like the one I'm complaining about - not only wrote CEQA documents for the proposed project (in the case of the MLPA "Initiative," it was Horizon Water and Environment) - they also chose the "stakeholders" for the MLPAI "project" - and illegally made up the rules as they went along (Kearns and West).

This includes violations of the Bagley-Keene Open Meeting Act, and the U.S. Constitution.

The Northcoast Regional Stakeholders Group of the MLPAI was loaded with Kearns and West chosen shills, some salaried employees of green-washed environmental groups. Respected community members who had differing opinions were specifically excluded from the corrupt MLPAI process.

The public was marginalized every step of the way, to the point that by the time the whole ridiculous charade was over, after three long years, not a single member of the public was involved.

You are correct - environmental oversight and CEQA compliance has been around for awhile - long enough to be totally bought out and co-opted by corporate interests. But private contracting companies like Kearns and West "facilitating" public processes and meetings is relatively new.

The MLPAI featured the president of the Western States Petroleum Association as a "Blue Ribbon Task Force" member throughout. Kearns and West, and its owners are heavily invested in Verdant Power (a tidal energy company). They also represent numerous energy corporations listed here: http://noyonews.net/?p=270 .

Kearns and West represented P.G.&E. for Northern California wave energy projects - just prior to the running the North Coast MLPAI.

Is there any wonder why public outcry for meaningful protection for the ocean from oil/gas drilling, and wind/wave energy projects - was actively ignored by the corrupt Kearns and West facilitators of MLPAI meetings?

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Comments  (Hide Comments)

by Dan
Sunday Jun 10th, 2012 4:56 PM
...contracting for services by government agencies. You may be surprised to learn that no local agency in california writes its own CEQA compliance documents. Consultants paid for by the project proponent write the compliance documents under the supervision of the agency. This has been SOP for decades.

The state and federal government contracts out much of its environmental compliance also. Again this has been standard practice for three decades. Companies like the one you're complaining about are performing contract activities on behalf of the agency.
by Jimbo
Sunday Jun 10th, 2012 5:32 PM
CORRUPTION!
by Dan
Monday Jun 11th, 2012 6:08 AM
....nothing in CEQA or NEPA requires the lead agency to agree with the public's view about a project. In other words neither the public or an opposition group do not have veto power. All the environmental laws require is full disclosure of the project's impacts and proposed mitigation measures. That a proposal could have severe environmental impacts that can't be fully mitigated does not bar ultimate approval by the lead agency.
by David Gurney
Monday Jun 11th, 2012 9:13 AM
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...Again, you miss the point. The article is not about CEQA or NEPA. It's about Kearns and West, a privately funded corporation, illegally running public meetings on behalf of a "lead agency" - and the private dollars who funded their boondoggle.

Ironically, it would have been much easier and more effective if the behind the scenes billionaires who funded the MLPA "Initiative" (the Packard Foundation and others) had followed the rules of our democracy, and given us a true initiative, instead of the totally corrupt Bushite version of an "Initiative."

In other words, put the MLPA on the ballot for across-the-board voter approval. With the big bucks behind it, such a measure would have easily passed. And with such a mandate, public support and participation would have naturally followed, without the controversy and litigation that is guaranteed to continue with this outrage till the end of time.

Apparently, the self righteous corporate environmentalists who blindly supported this co-opted version of the Marine Life Protection Act missed high school civics, and the basic laws of Karma, and are getting an abject lesson - that the end does NOT justify the means.

Three years of wasted time and effort is the result, time that should have been spent dealing with the real issues facing the ocean today.


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by Dan
Monday Jun 11th, 2012 10:06 AM
...who's missing the point. As a contractor they can run the public meetings with agency staff oversight. There is no requirement to put any project to a public vote for approval. The only recourse is the courts generally. One could propose a statewide initiative, collect close to a million valid signatures, and get it on the ballot for statewide consideration. The project opponents would have to do the heavy lifting to get it done though.
by Beeline
Monday Jun 11th, 2012 10:08 AM
When the corporate sector joins with government and has influence over government decisions we should call it what it is- fascism. In this society fascism feeds off the fear of becoming socialist. Democracy has to walk on the knife edge of balancing these forces but for the last 30 years corporate power has grown like a giant political "kudzu vine" and has over shadowed the 'regular' public sector/middle class.

Today government lives to fulfill a bureaucratic role of making the process look good under the letter of the law while appeasing corporate interests. Corporations have redefined what science is and it will be a hard battle to get real, complete, objective science back again and even if we do, will government listen to it?

I hear the ghosts of real science moaning in the wind as I witness the planet and the political system getting sicker and more debilitated as these corporate "tumors" continue to spread.
by David Gurney
Monday Jun 11th, 2012 10:14 AM
...but you don't make good sense.

You are obviously another foggy-brained lawyer/bureaucrat. And how about giving your real name?

The long-and-short of it is: K&W violated the law, with illegally run meetings - barring public comment and legal recording of their meetings.

They were also involved in running illegal secret meetings. All excluding legitimate public participation.

The Kearns and West facilitators are criminals, who will have to answer for their crimes.

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