You Can Make A Difference

One Lady Who Made A Difference

Don’t ever think because you are only one person that you can’t make a difference because you can, and this lady did.
Her husband, Charlie, told her to forget about it. To let it go she would only be riling up the neighbors and nobody would do anything anyway. Nobody cares.
But she couldn’t let it go. It was too horrific; all the blood. It made her shudder just thinking about it. That was two years ago and since that day, she reached out to people of all economic and social strata of society.
She adroitly cultivated many contacts, from school children to businessmen and politicians gathering information to lead the fight. It was a lot of work but it was passionate work and now…
The sun was beginning to rise over the Nevada Mountains as the diminutive woman limped with determination out her front door in Reno. The limp was leftover from a bout with childhood polio that left her crippled. Her purse hung from her left shoulder and in her right hand was a briefcase filled with all the documents she had gathered over the past two years. Her job as an executive secretary gave her the skills needed to put together the multitude of facts and evidence into the organized presentation that she hoped would right a wrong, a wrong that, for years, nothing had been done about; but she was determined to change that today.
She was scheduled to give her presentation that morning in Storey County, Nevada. She had no idea that she was about to set off a firestorm of hatred, scorn, and threats against her that would last her lifetime by the very people she was about to speak to.
As she arrived at the meeting, she was greeted by her boss, Gordon Harris, a Reno insurance executive.
“Hi, Velma, I want you to meet someone, State Senator James Slattery. Senator, this is the lady I was telling you about, Velma Johnston. She’s an incredible young woman and I think you will find what she is about to say very interesting.”
“Pleased to me you, Velma. Aren’t you one of Joseph Bronn’s kids?”
“Yessir, I’m his oldest. I have lived here all my life. He and my mother brought me out here in a covered wagon. I crossed the desert as an infant and was kept alive on mustang mare milk. Many of the horses my father used in his freighting service were mustangs.”
“Well, I’ll be. Your daddy was a good man. I look forward to hearing what you have put together.”
As Velma walked down the aisle to the podium where she would give her presentation, the men in the audience began to jeer her and finally one redneck rancher who looked like he was chewing on a golf ball, rolled his chaw of chewing tobacco to the other cheek and spit into a cup, before yelling out to his friends and fellow ranchers, “Well look it here boys, here comes Wild Horse Annie.”
Catcalls and laughter echoed throughout the hall before the county commission chairman was able to call everyone to order.
What started out as a divisive sobriquet became a rallying cry for her supporters and she wore it with pride for the rest of her life.
As it turned out, she was forceful and compelling as a public speaker and was able to charm and inspire others as she delivered her message about the indiscriminate slaughter and brutalization of America’s living legends, the mustang horse.
She fought for years to preserve the wild horses on the public lands in Western states. They and the burros were threatened by ranchers or others wanting to kill them for pet food.
It all began in 1950, as she left her office she noticed something that didn’t seem right; blood pouring out of the back of a stock trailer as it drove down the highway. She got into her car and followed it and it wasn’t long before she realized it was crammed full of wild horses destined for a pet food slaughterhouse. When they opened the trailer door to let out all the horses, she saw a yearling being trampled to death There and then she decided to expose this to the public eye.
In the mid-1900’s, massive wild horse and burro roundups were taking place on the Western public lands. These roundups involved airplanes flown by WWII pilots. They operated in conjunction with truck drivers and were aided by cowboys with lassoes and heavy truck tires. The 1961 movie, “The Misfits,” directed by John Huston and starring Marilyn Monroe, Clark Gable, Montgomery Cliff, and Eli Wallach, who played a former World War II aviator named Guido Racanelli, depicted these brutal gatherings.
Velma Johnston led the drive in 1959 when Congress passed a bill to prohibit planes and trucks from rounding up the animals and it was through her hard work and dedication, that thousands of people of all ages became advocates for the wild horses. Congress received more letters on this issue than any other, save the Vietnam War.
Her testimony before Congress led to the Wild Free-Roaming Horse and Burro Act (P.L. 92-195) which was unanimously passed and signed into law in 1971. This gave the wild horses and burros protection on BLM and Forest Service lands “where found” at the time of the passage of the Act in 303 areas.
She was president of the International Society for the Protection of Mustangs and Burros and of Wild Horse Organized Assistance Inc. She also wrote her autobiography, “Mustang—Wild Spirit of the West.”

In 1973, she played herself in the Western, “Running Wild” starring alongside  Lloyd Bridges and Dina Merrill.
It was true that her efforts touched off controversy. Ranchers said that the wild horses were destroying grazing lands for domesticated animals. In 1974, she received a warning from an Idaho vigilante group, but she took the threat lightly and hung it on her wall of mementos, saying: “There aren’t too many people who have been threatened by vigilantes in the 1970’s.”
At the roundups of wild horses by the Bureau of Land Management, Wild Horse Annie was often present to assure that the horses were not harmed. And once captured, she led an adoption program to find homes for the animals.
Wild Horse Annie received a public service award in 1972 from Rogers C. B. Morton, Secretary of the Interior, for her fight on behalf of the horses. Her death was apparently caused by cancer.
So, when someone says to you, “You are only one person, you can’t make a difference.”
Just go out and show them, like little Wild Horse Annie did!

“They ran
 like they were running
 through the winds of time 
past the dry river gulch
 where the waters once 
ran swift and deep
 and many tribes camped
 along her banks
 and the children played
 and the deer and elk grazed
 they ran 
free and wild and 
with no idea that 
it would ever 
change.”
~ Michael Traveler, author of Postcards from the Past

An Old Cowboy Just Doesn’t Know When To Quit

Mustangs Rounded up by Helicopter copy-small-17

Ol’ Jughead Thompson and me were leavin’ outta Spooner, Wisconsin heading for Eau Claire for our next rodeo. It was 11:00 pm Friday, August the fourth and we had to be in Eau Claire by 10:00 am Saturday for the draw for Saturday night’s rodeo. We got a late start because we had to wait for Jughead to stop pissin’ blood.

I been knowin’ Jughead for going on thirty years now and I was hopin’ he learned a lesson in Spooner. At least he wouldn’t take a full finger tuck this time. He would play by the rules. Earlier tonight his bronc stood quietly as he pulled his riggin’. When he nodded, I opened the gate and he got wadded up into the gate. I thought they would give him another chance to nod but before he could get settled back in, that big flathead saw the crack in the gate and he blew out of the chute. His head, neck, and everything just disappeared as he bucked and kicked. For a moment ol’ Jughead actually looked like a bareback rider again until that damn flathead jerked the handhold out of his hand and it wasn’t long before Jughead was flat on his back. He was out for a few seconds and didn’t remember much when he came to. He said he recalled the horse’s head almost touching the ground and then the lights went out.

We picked him up and loaded him in my rig and then I went and got our horses and loaded them before we took off for the Spooner Hospital.

The doctor there in the ER wanted Jughead to spend the night but he didn’t want to forfeit his rodeo fee in Eau Claire, so we left. We no sooner hit the outskirts of town when I had to stop so he could piss out some blood.

My name is Bill Toft. My friends call me Buck, or when they are jabbin’ at me, Buck Toff. When I was younger, I rode saddle broncs and bare backs, but now I’m too old for that. No way I want to put myself through that pain anymore. My body hurts just gettin’ outta’ bed every mornin’

We arrived in Eau Claire in the middle of a heavy rain. Jughead drew #88 name of Widow Maker.

“I’m gettin’ on that son of a bitch,” Jughead declared.

“Don’t you think it’s about time you acknowledge the corn. You just ain’t made out for riding bucking stock. You have a lot of heart, little talent, and no quit in you. Like a bull, you don’t know when to quit. That’s a recipe for a quick death, little buddy. Let’s just stick to being pick up riders and hauling rodeo stock and leave the rest of this shit to the young ones. You ain’t going to like hearing this, Jughead, but…”

“Some things are better off left unsaid,” Jughead replied, glaring at me.“But you are going to say it anyway, aren’t you,Buck?”

“Yep, can’t help myself. If you do this, you will be sucking blended food through a straw for the next six months. Worse case, you’re going to end up in the bone orchard.”

“Hell, I still got some kick in me, Buck. I know I can ride this horse. Look at him. That horse looks dead.”

“So do you Jughead. I gotta say this, you lasting eight seconds on that horse is as likely as the Pope leading a gay pride parade.”

“Well, we’ll just see, won’t we?”

“Yep, common sense is like deodorant. The ones that need it the most don’t use it.”

“I assume you are referring to me?”

“Yep, Jughead, I am. Listen, if you feel yourself losing it, just choke that horn, will ya?”

“No way. Ol’ Jughead never has and never will be caught choking the horn. It just won’t happen.”

Well, that ‘ol dead horse threw Jughead ‘bout up to heaven and when he landed, he landed on his head before a hind foot from that bronc landed down on his chest.

I was looking down at Jughead in a crowd of cowboys and he gave me a warm smile as well as a thumbs up. Then I heard someone say, “Okay boys, let’s get as many hands as we can under him and lift him onto the stretcher.”

They put him into what I assumed was an ambulance. I crawled in after him and we took off. The driver was cursing as we hit some pot holes.

“I don’t know if I’m going to survive this one, Buck Toft,” Jughead groaned.

“You’re going to make it, Jughead. I remember that time in Noches, Texas, about twenty years ago, when you were in the recovery room and your spleen ended up in the operating room trash can. You walked away from that one. You’ll walk away from this too. From now on, we will spend our time spreading hay and hauling bucking stock, not trying to ride ‘em.”

Jughead nodded, smiled, and closed his eyes.

“You all right back there?” the driver asked, as the stretcher rolled across the floor and slammed into the side of the vehicle.

The ambulance driver wasn’t actually an ambulance driver, he was tending the beer tent and he had to close it down when they asked him to drive Jughead to the hospital. Actually, it wasn’t an ambulance, it was an old yellow cab and the driver was slurring his words.

“Damn, the gate is closed. Hey, girls, have them boys open that gate,” he yelled. I was sitting next to him. He turned around and was holding a can of Blatz Beer.

“How’s he doing?”

“Not good, he’s rolling around like a damned billiard ball,” I yelled.

“God damn right it’s rolling. We’ll get him there in no time. Now don’t let him die on me. He’s pretty old to be doin’ this, ridin’ broncs, ain’t he?”

“That’s what I’ve been tryin’ to tell him.”

Turns out Jughead didn’t last the ride. I don’t know if it was the ride on the bronc or the ride in that old Yellow Cab that did him in, but deep down in my heart, I know’d it was his stubbornness that finally did him in. He just didn’t know when to quit. I think the good Lord finally did him a favor calling him home but I sure am going to miss that boy.

So, You Want To Become A Corrupt Professional? You Can Get Your Training At The DOI

 

 

BLM Toole1

The Department of Interior and its current Secretary, Sally Jewell, is in charge of more than 71,000 employees with a budget in excess of 90 billion dollars and one of its divisions, the Bureau of Land Management, the BLM, oversees more than 500 million acres of public land, which is about one-fifth the land area of the United States and this department is and has always been, awash in scandal.
Established on March 3, 1849, by the Department of the Interior Act, the Department of Interior became the fourth cabinet in the federal government. It didn’t take long before the first scandal struck this Cabinet.
In 1873, a year after Yellowstone National Park was established, Secretary of Interior Columbus Delano made the following remarks:
“The civilization of the Indian is impossible while the buffalo remains upon the plains. I would not seriously regret the total disappearance of the buffalo from our western prairies, in its effect upon the Indians, regarding it as a means of hastening their sense of dependence upon the products of the soil and their own labors.”
Delano’s attitude was shared by most Americans around this time as people began to move westward. As Delano stated, the buffalo and the wild horse were viewed as a means of perpetuating Native Americans way of life. General Phil Sheridan made clear his strategy in dealing with the Indians when he said the way to defeat the enemy is to destroy their commissary and destroy their means of transportation and our government did. In the mid to late 1800’s millions upon millions of buffalo and wild horses were killed by, or with the blessing, of the federal government.

Two years later, in 1875, Delano’s department was in serious disrepair due to his corruption and incompetence. He paid money to fictitious clerks while other clerks had been paid without performing any services. He was convicted of taking bribes for fraudulent land grants  and was forced to resign from office. Delano had also given lucrative cartographical contracts to his son John Delano.
Then there was the infamous Teapot Dome bribery scandal of 1922. The Teapot Dome is a federal oil reserve in Wyoming. Investigations revealed that Interior Secretary Albert Fall had secretly leased the Teapot Dome reserve and California’s Elk Hills reserve to oil executives and received a $409,000 payoff in return. Fall was convicted and sentenced to a year in prison. Wow, a whole year.

In 1971, Congress passes the  Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Actintended to protect America’s living legends, the mustang horse and its cousin, the burro. Ironically, they put the BLM, a division of the same department, the Department of Interior, that originally tried to eradicate these animals and who has been under the thumb of the special interest group, the Cattlemen’s Association, since its inception, in charge of executing this act. Needless to say, this has been a disaster.
Then in 1973 Congress passes the Endangered Species Act, which expands federal power over private lands. The law’s basic approach is to put most of the cost of endangered species recovery onto the owners of the land the animals happen to live on. As such, it creates perverse incentives for landowners to destroy wildlife on their lands before the government effectively expropriates it.The law was administered by Interior’s Fish and Wildlife Service.
Then we have former Department of Interior Secretary, Ken Salazar, accused of doing nothing about the Bureau of Land Management’s mismanagement of wild horses. The BLM allowed a notorious livestock hauler named Tom Davis, acquire nearly 1,800 wild horses and burros over a four-year period. Davis claimed he sold about 1700 to a rescue in the southeast. When the Denver Post was doing their expose on this, they called our organization to see if we had them or knew of anyone in our area who could have taken this many horses. There is nobody and if 1800 wild horses were introduced into the southeast, we would have known about it because, at the time, we were one of only two mustang rescues in the entire southeast. Livestock hauler Tom Davis is accused of handing them over to kill buyers who sent them to Mexico to slaughter for human consumption and in the process was breaking numerous Colorado state and federal laws. According to the IG report, the hauler, Tom Davis, allegedly “had farming and trucking connections” with Salazar. The Office of the Inspector General report notes that Davis began gathering horses from the BLM after Salazar took office as Interior Secretary (the BLM program is part of the Department of the Interior and therefore was under Salazar’s control).
Making matters even worse for the Department of Interior in the year 2006 as word of scandals at the Department of Interior’s Denver office surface, the department’s Inspector General, Earl Devaney, declared that it suffers from “a culture of managerial irresponsibility,” including cronyism and widespread ethical failures. Devaney charged that “short of a crime, anything goes at the highest levels of the Department of Interior.” Well, it sure appears that even crime is more than a possibility with these people.
At the Interior’s Minerals Management Service in Denver, various conflicts of interest were cited. The Interior’s Inspector General reported that MMS employees had close relationships with, and had received gifts, including sex for hire (crime), from, employees of the energy firms they were supposed to be regulating.
The former head of the Denver Royalty-in-Kind office, Gregory W. Smith, used illegal drugs (crime) and had sex with subordinates. The report said Smith also steered government contracts to a consulting business that was employing him part-time.
Recently, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported that the former director of the U.S. Bureau of Land Management “stood to benefit personally” in 2012 when he tried to fast-track the sale of federal land in Henderson, Nevada, to a stadium developer, according to a government investigation report.
The joint investigation by the FBI and the Office of the Inspector General showed then-BLM director Bob Abbey was “personally and substantially involved” in the review process for the land sale, despite his connections to the transaction.
The deal was being pushed by former BLM employee Mike Ford, Abbey’s friend and onetime partner in a private consulting firm where Abbey worked both before and after his three-year stint as head of the federal agency. The firm stood to receive a $528,000 “success fee” after the land sale went through.
Ford was working as a consultant for the City of Henderson and controversial Texas developer Chris Milam, who was floating plans for a $650 million professional sports arena that would never be built.
When Abbey was nominated by President Obama to head the BLM, he signed what’s known as a “recusal form” stating that he had resigned his position as a private consultant but “expected to rejoin the firm as a member” after his government service. In the same form, he pledged not to “participate personally and substantially in any particular matter that had a direct and predictable effect on the financial interests of the firm.”
Investigators said Abbey’s relationship with Ford, gave the consultant unusual access to the BLM and its staff during the review process for the land sale, and at the prompting of both Ford and Abbey, key documents were processed far faster than usual.
Abbey retired as BLM director on May 31, 2012, and now he is listed as a partner in the firm Abbey Stubbs & Ford. Now isn’t that convenient?
The report says he told investigators he never received any payment from the consulting firm or anyone else as a result of the land sale in Henderson. I suppose because he is a public official we should believe him?
This goes to show you that, with these government officials, the recusal forms they sign aren’t worth the paper they are written on.

It makes one wonder if there is any sort of corruption and self-serving activity that is too debased for these government officials become involved in next. I personally doubt it.