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NOAA, Which Has Spent Millions on Yachts, Trips and Cars, Will Cut Money for Tsunami Preparedness

NOAA could trim $4.6 million from tsunami warning system in its 2013 budget.

The White House has proposed cutting $4.6 million from the tsunami warning system operated by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, according to this story in the San Jose Mercury News.

However, NOAA said the cuts won't sacrifice public safety because the system is still in place and may just longer to fix.

The federal agency, which oversees enforcement of regulations on the Monterey Bay, has been under heavy fire nationwide for its spending practices, including a $100 million asset forfeiture fund built from fines to fisherman, boaters and surfers.

In a Dan Rather report called "Something Fishy," the journalist uncovered expenditures by the agency for boats, cars and trips to foreign countries for NOAA agents, lawyers and a judge who adjudicated their cases.

Last week Massachussetts Senator Scott Brown blasted the agency for using $300,787 for a boat used for "booze cruises" in the Pacific Northwest, according to this article in South Coast Today.com

"What does it take to get fired from NOAA?" Brown said to the Senate, as quoted in the article. He listed controversies at the agency including its shredding of documents during an investigation into the agency. Brown called it a "shredding party."

In documents the senator found through the Freedom of Information Act, there were reports that what was supposedly an undercover vessel was used for parties and by an agent to bring his family to a seaside restaurant and board a whale watching cruise.

The report of one agents use of the boat, as quoted by South Coast Today said: "(Name redacted) violated agency policy and ethical standards by operating the UC (undercover) vessel with his wife and/or friends aboard on at least three occasions in the summer of 2008, each of which involved dockside restaurant destinations during the work week."

 NOAA has not disclosed what, if any, enforcement actions were taken against the agents who used the boat for personal pleasure.

The money for the boat came from fines against fisherman, which Brown said, were sometimes levied wrongly and sometimes put them out of business.

The Gloucestor Times newspaper said the pleasure boat incident should be the end for the leaders of the government agency.

Ohio Democratic Congressman Dennis Kucinich also blasted NOAA enforcement during Congressional hearings for its overuse of criminal investigators.

NOAA enforcement has been in local news for fining two surfers who used jet skis to tow out to big waves $500 and raising it to $2,500 when they fought it.  The fines, which are adjudicated by an in-house judge,

NOAA also spent thousands of dollars for a helicopter a "Of Men and Mavericks" in Half Moon Bay because they were using jet skis for lifeguards to do rescues during the big wave scenes in this movie about Santa Cruz surfer Jay Moriarity.

Star Gerald Butlerafter he was wiped out by a set of waves and hospitalized afterwards.

Michael A. Lewis February 28, 2012 at 10:40 PM
This article says nothing about tsunami preparedness. We did have a tsunami here, if you'll recall, almost a year ago. How will this budget cutback affect tsunami preparedness for the Santa Cruz Harbor? Why is this article about things that don't concern us?
Brad Kava (Editor) February 29, 2012 at 12:16 AM
Michael..the link at the Sentinel talks all about tsunamis.
Michael A. Lewis February 29, 2012 at 02:41 AM
I'm not talking about the links. I'm talking about the story. The headline has nothing to do with the content of the story. 1. Headline 2. Lede 3. Story
Byron Servies February 29, 2012 at 04:59 AM
How manly, Brad! I've requested account deletion, because there is no way for me to do that myself. Perhaps you can help me with that, while you are pretending to be a journalist?
Jeff Martin February 29, 2012 at 11:02 PM
Michael, I think this story has very much to do with local events and NOAA cutting funding as well as significant concerns to our Monterey Bay. I am not sure what you are getting at here?
Michael A. Lewis March 01, 2012 at 02:48 AM
The story, as written, is not about cutbacks in tsunami preparedness funding, which is what concerns us here in Santa Cruz, where we suffered from theJapanese tsunami. The story is about a NOAA spending scandal, which has nothing whatsoever to do with us and has nothing to do with cutbacks in funding for tsunami preparedness. In truth, i was somewhat dismayed to learn (not in the Patch story) that the Santa Cruz Harbor received Tsunami Warning Zone signs from NOAA and had to expend funds to install them, but, again, this has nothing to do with the Patch story about NOAA buying yachts and such, which is frivolous rumor mongering.
Brad Kava (Editor) March 01, 2012 at 06:21 AM
Frivolous rumor mongering? Are you reading this? These are from Freedom of Information Act requests and Congressional testimony. Read the links.
Michael A. Lewis March 01, 2012 at 04:48 PM
Yes, and I read the original article, too, from South Coast Today... that is, the south coast of... Connecticut, not Monterey Bay. It's a scurrilous political hack piece about a report from July of 2011, concerning misappropriation of NOAA property, which has been handled internally by NOAA. The article has nothing whatsoever to do with California, Monterey Bay, Santa Cruz or tsunami warning preparation funding cutbacks. The implication in this article that NOAA is gouging local surfers and frivolously spending money on enforcement actions is irresponsible speculation, based on hearsay. Please don't follow this road to yellow journalism.
Scott Jarrett March 02, 2012 at 01:47 AM
Michael, you need to take a vacation buddy. I see you have a lot to say about nothing. Are you a professional journalist? or just wish? I think I know the answer to my own question.
Scott Jarrett March 02, 2012 at 01:58 AM
Rumor mongering? Really Michael? The facts are out there caption, pull your head out and you just might see the truth.
Scott Jarrett March 02, 2012 at 02:03 AM
Google NOAA abuse and see over 8 million "8,000,000" references. Most are from major news outlets and individual people that have been screwed by this agency.
Brad Kava (Editor) March 02, 2012 at 04:25 AM
Please guys, let's keep this polite and no personal attacks over opinions....BTW. The government is sending me 390 pages of Freedom of Information documents, Michael, that will bring up some issues that are local and illegal. Not hearsay.
Michael A. Lewis March 02, 2012 at 04:48 AM
Good job, Brad!

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