Ted Brewer flaks it up

This piece, Where chemtrails and Ochenski converge, ran yesterday in the Missoulian. It is by Montana Wilderness Association communications manager Ted Brewer. It is weird.

The object of scorn is George Ochenski, a conservation writer who occasionally has pieces published in that newspaper. MWA is sliming him, even trotting out Godwin. There’s real anger behind it, though not much substance.  It’s a hit piece.

What’s up?

It’s interesting to see all of the people working for MWA on this page –  Ted is down a ways. They have mostly had their pictures taken in natural backdrops. This seeds the impression that this is an outdoor-loving group. Indeed, Montana Wilderness Association sounds like a bunch of people who hike the mountains and ski the trails, but their true function is a little less earthy. The photos and hobbies are a nice smoke screen. (Ted … “enjoy[s] hiking with their two dogs, backpacking, Nordic skiing, and fly fishing.” He also writes their hit pieces.)

The “communications manager” doesn’t just fire off an op-ed, hoping something sticks. He has to answer to his superiors. Be assured that the content and tone of this piece was table-talked. It is out for blood. They want Ochenski taken down.

If indeed that happens, it will be the juice behind MWA that does it, as MWA, just a front group, has no real power.

The word that set them off was most likely “bribes.” Ochenski never used it. It is a scarecrow argument.

They do, however, protest too much.

The real story is behind the words. MWA is an AstroTurf organization. They claim grassroots support, but real backers are a list of foundations. They have a lush budget and a large staff with important-sounding titles. They keep busy, but they don’t get much done in terms of conservation. Most often they attack real conservation groups and cooperate with developers and extraction companies. They “facilitate” and “collaborate.”

Pew Charitable Trusts has been a prominent supporter of MWA in the past. That outfit is spawned by the Sun Oil Company fortune, and the Pew family behind it.  If you think that putting money in a foundation  separates it from the donors, I’ve got a bridge to sell you. Pew money is oil money. So it naturally follows: MWA is oil money.

The word “quisling” comes to mind, as MWA merely fronts for other more powerful interests. But I’ll settle for a simpler word requiring no knowledge of history. They are “phonies.” “Shills” works too.

MWA is part of the larger corruption that is our political system, where no one is what they appear to be, everyone bought. The Brewer piece is a smoke screen, flak designed to take attention off MWA and redirect it at a critic.

About Mark Tokarski

Just a man who likes to read, argue, and occasionally be surprised.
This entry was posted in American wilderness, AstroTurf and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Ted Brewer flaks it up

  1. 01stevekelly says:

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    Like

  2. Matthew Koehler says:

    Wow! That was seriously the best Montana Wilderness Association had to offer?

    An epic, off-the-rails rant from the Montana Wilderness Association’s ‘communications manager’ Ted Brewer (complete with outright lies, make up things Ochenski never wrote and entirely propped up by strawman arguments) against longtime environmental and public lands champion George Ochenski?

    Wow.

    Let’s see. So in that opinion piece, the Montana Wilderness Association compares Ochenski to “birthers, chemtrail conspiracy mongers, and other ideological zealots and crackpots.” The Montana Wilderness Association also calls on the Missoulian to replace George Ochenski (their very popular, weekly columnist).

    Yeah, good luck with that campaign MWA!

    For the record, here’s what Ochenski actually wrote that appears to have sent the Montana Wilderness Association over the edge. I encourage the public to compare these actual words from Ochenski with the lies, make believe and strawman arguments coming from MWA in their column:

    “If one wants to see where millions of federal taxpayer dollars have gone to buy collaborative partners, check out this link from the Southwest Crown of the Continent laying out the Forest Service’s publicly funded largesse to groups such as Trout Unlimited, the Montana Wilderness Association, the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation and many more: http://www.swcrown.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/07/SWCC_Partnership_Agreements_V.06-15.pdf.

    This scheme pays taxpayer funds to private groups that provide ‘in-kind services’ to collaborate with the federal agency’s goals, many of which are directly connected to increased logging, grazing and resource extraction from public lands under the rubric of ‘forest health’ or ‘restoration.’” (SOURCE: http://bit.ly/1WVXElR)”

    For the record, those two paragraphs were included in a column in which Ochenski highlighted the very wise words from Montana’s very own Wilderness Legend Stewart Brandborg (the only living person who was responsible for passage of the Wilderness Act in 1964 and the person responsible for more Wilderness protection in the U.S. then anyone).

    Brandborg recently warned groups like MWA at a Wilderness Conference to “resist the fuzzy, fuzzy Neverland of collaboration,” because Brandborg believes that groups like MWA are giving up huge chunks of America’s public lands legacy in exchange for basically what amounts to some Wilderness crumbs.

    What’s strange is that it’s absolutely no secret to anyone in Montana that for the past 10 years the Montana Wilderness Association has been ‘collaborating’ with the timber industry and others (sometimes in secret meetings) to dramatically increase industrial logging on public National Forests in Montana through politicians simply mandating higher logging levels.

    That’s a fact that MWA cannot hide from.

    Not only that but the Montana Wilderness Association has also gone to court to support more public lands logging in Montana. For example, just last month the Montana Wilderness Association took the incredible step of actually intervening in a timber sale lawsuit on the Kootenaa National Forest. The logging project MWA is in federal court supporting actually calls for nearly 9,000 acres of logging, including over 3,000 acres of clearcuts in critical lynx habitat.

    Even more amazing is the fact that the Montana Wilderness Association is being represented in court supporting this timber sale by timber industry lawyers from the American Forest Resource Council. That’s right! The very same timber industry lawyers at the American Forest Resource Council who sued to stop the Roadless Area Conservation Rule are now representing the Montana Wilderness Association in court to support 9,000 acres of logging, including over 3,000 acres of clearcuts in critical lynx habitat on the Kootenai National Forest.

    Yes, the truth is that the Forest Service is actually giving ‘collaborators’ with multi-million non-profit groups like the Montana Wilderness Association, Trout Unlimited and Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation millions of taxpayer dollars to help manage public lands!

    In the case of the Montana Wilderness Association, they collected $100,000 in taxpayer money from the U.S. Forest Service through being part of the Southwestern Crown of the Continent (SWCC) ‘collaborative’ groups. This is the same ‘collaborative’ group that the Montana Wilderness Association and others are part of and in which MWA and others are calling for big increases in public lands logging. Heck, MWA and other ‘collaborators’ (many of whom are also getting large chunks of taxpayer funds via the Forest Service) even went to court a few years ago to support a Forest Service timber sale.

    Does this not reek of corruption and collusion? Isn’t this just an incredibly slippery slope that threatens to compromise the “Keep It Public” mantra we so often hear from these groups?

    Wouldn’t it be better for taxpayer money to simply fund the U.S. Forest Service to do its job, rather than having the Forest Service give this taxpayer money to multi-million non-profit groups who ‘collaborate’ with the Forest Service?

    Honestly, given the Montana Wilderness Association very well-documented love affair with ‘collaboration’ and given the Montana Wilderness Association’s very well-documented demands for more taxpayer-subsidized public lands logging on National Forests in Montana (despite terrible lumber markets, despite global economic realities, etc) it’s just bizarre why MWA would be so upset with George Ochenski for pointing out the fact that MWA and other groups have been able to collectively get millions of dollars to hire their own staff and get paid for their volunteers to manage our public lands.

    As Keith Hammer with the Swan View Coalition recently pointed out (Source: http://forestpolicypub.com/2015/09/22/the-forest-service-is-paying-collaborative-partners/):

    “While these funds on the one hand enable partners to do some monitoring and watershed restoration work by repairing or decommissioning roads, it also appears to silence public criticisms by partners of the more controversial timber sales being conducted under the guise of “forest restoration.” Moreover, some SWCC partners have collectively promoted “restoration” logging and asked Congress to work with collaborators and not with “organizations and individuals who oppose collaborative approaches to forest management.” (Source: http://www.swanview.org/reports/FinalPartnersLetter_1_14_15_Final.pdf)

    If you love America’s National Forests and our tremendous public lands legacy please don’t be lulled to sleep by groups like the Montana Wilderness Association.

    The bottom line is that some of these very well-funded, multi-million groups are using ‘collaboration’ in an attempt to greatly increase public lands logging (including MWA’s well-documented calls for politicians to simply mandate huge increases in National Forest logging levels), while at the same time they are using ‘collaboration’ to secure huge chunks of taxpayer funds (via the Forest Service) in order to increase their staff size and essential embark down that slippery slope where the management of America’s National Forests is essentially ‘out-sourced’ and ‘privatized.’

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