Saturday, June 29, 2013

6/29/2013 Merchant Marine Interest
EDITORIAL NOTE: 11/9/2019. Mr. Edwards and others are now gone from the OIG's office but a legacy of inefficiency and a lack of real technical expertise remains. The question is as valid today as it was in 2013 the DHS OIG's office; watch dog or lap dog?  Are they part of "The Swamp"? 


  Boxer Dog      WATCH DOG      Dog        Or LAP DOG?


The Media Finally Publishes The Tip Of The Ice Burg Of Corruption The National Mariner's Association Has Long Suspected Existed In The Department Of Homeland Security's Office Of The Inspector General.

 The National Mariner's Association (NMA) has often been featured in these pages for the altruistic work that it does for America's merchant seamen, especially those employed in the Jones Act trades on vessels under 1600 gross tons admeasurement where unions are virtually never present. Several years ago NMA Secretary Capt. Richard Block publicly advocated giving up on all attempts to reform certain Coast Guard programs and policies that damaged the Jones Act trades and Jones Act seamen especially in the "workboat trades" such as towing and off shore oil industry support services through appeal to the Coast Guard or the DHS including the DHS Inspector General's Office. Instead the NMA decided to start appealing directly to Congress.

  We carried in these pages the news of how their second appeal to Congress for such safety regulatory reforms as enforcement of existing working and hour regulations, and the long over due formal limitation to 12 hour work days for all crew members. As previously reported a distracted and squabbling Congress did nothing. We reported on such issues as apparent corruption in the Coast Guard's Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) system, the mess at the National Mariners Center, the removal of the professional mariner examination question base from public scrutiny, the run away and ill conceived medical NAVIC that has virtually outlawed middle age from the Merchant Marine. The NMA at one time or another pushed to the Inspector General's Office of Homeland Security the idea of investigating or auditing these programs within the Coast Guard. What came out of the Inspector General's Office was mostly no action, or reports that the NMA considered a "white wash".

  The NMA requested for at least six years that the Inspector General audit the Coast Guard's accident reports as the NMA had convincing evidence that marine accident reports are under reported to the Coast Guard. Eventually an audit was commissioned on this subject but nothing of consequence came out. The audit drew no attention despite the overwhelming evidence available, including a comparison of litigated on record maritime personal injury cases that met the criteria of the Code of Federal Regulations as "reportable accidents" that indicated only about 3 in 100 reportable accidents are in fact reported by the work boat industry. NMA complaints of Coast Guard corruption, mismanagement, and just plain ineptitude have gone unanswered for decades resulting in the publication of countless well prepared documented NMA reports numbered and organized that can be accessed by law enforcement, government watch dogs and the media.

 Recently CNN's THE LEAD with Jack Tapper  actually published a story detailing an investigation into the personal conduct of the present Inspector General of the DHS Charles Edwards by Congressional committeemen. Certainly if the personal misdeeds that the Congress has expressed concern over are true , and so far this is just a Congressional inquiry, there would be a need for concern about the integrity of the institution of the Office of Inspector General as well as that of the present office holder.  Unfortunately CNN or Mr. Tapper seems blissfully unaware that this Congressional inquiry is not the only investigation into misbehavior recently focusing light into the Inspector General's Office, or of the many causes that warrant investigation that no one except the NMA has paid any attention to. We urge Mr. Trapper to contact the NMA at or by phone at 985-851-2134 and to tap into the NMA's well prepared body of reports to begin to see the whole spectrum of problems with the DHS OIG's office, the only supposedly full time watch dog over the Customs and Border Patrol, and the U.S. Coast Guard, two organizations that interact and affect the operations of America's Merchant Marine. It is long past due that these issues reach national media attention instead of being investigated, documented, reported, numbered, and filed away in NMA's collection available for potential use by government "watch dog" (if awake or not self serving) or the media ( if they could somehow bring themselves to take an interest in events on "the wet side of the levee"). If Mr. Tapper would contact the NMA he'd learn as Paul Harvey used to say ..."The rest of the story" of a watchdog turned lap dog. To read what he has found so far click on the link below"

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