everybody knows the dice are loaded

everybody rolls with their fingers crossed

funny story. yknow how ticketmaster was in deep after the taylor swift concert? a lot of outrage about the failure to provide services and the inane junk fees. well, it’s not just ticketmaster. ever heard of booz allen?

the ticketmasterification of america’s public lands

well what’s a junk fee? it’s all the garbage tacked on to your bill.
“credit card convenience fee.” “resort fee.” “broadcast fee.”

comcast actually just jacked up their “broadcast fee” to 27 smackers a month. this does nothing but increase profit. whenever somebody has pricing power, either because they’re the only game in town or because you’re desperate, the junk fees come out in force.

well, screw the tv! get out there and touch some grass! let’s go to recreation.gov, see what national parks are open and…

…pay your junk fees.

coyote buttes north at arizona’s vermilion cliffs national monument is a fragile ecosystem, you have to pay for a 7 dollar permit to get in. but here’s the kicker: only 4-10 percent of applicants get in on any given day. you have to join a lottery to get in. it’s a NINE DOLLAR APPLICATION FEE. to JOIN THE LOTTERY. it’s a fee for the chance to pay a fee. with the acceptance rate, rec.gov is making 1000 percent of the permit fee from the lottery.

but that money goes to coyote buttes right? preserving the petroglyphs and dinosaur tracks, etc?

haha no. the bureau of land management gets the 7 dollars from the 64 lucky hikers who get a permit. the 5 figures in lotto fees go directly to booz allen. a giant military contractor.

what. the. actual. hell. that’s insane, right? this mess started in 2017 when booz nabbed a contract to build recreation.gov “at no cost to the federal government.”

of course, this wasn’t out of patriotism. like any good military contractor, they wanted to get all the public money with none of the public accountability.

booz now gets to run public lands like a kingdom. when the deal began, they could unilaterally set their own fees for access to public lands. example: if they wanted to, they could make it so that anyone who wanted access to mount whitney had to pay a 6 dollar fee. 16,000 applicants, 5,300 of them successful, $100,000 in junk fees for the big B in the sky.

but then the bureau of land management got sued. thomas kotab sued the bureau for failure to follow the federal lands recreation enhancement act. that’s the one that lets federal agencies charge for access to public lands. there was a two dollar fee junk fee blu tacked on the reservation system for red rock canyon.

the FLREA said that there must be a public notice-and-comment for any fee relating to public land. booz’s cash grab did not have anything like that, and kotab won.

the lawsuit, at least. booz came out the real winner because they figured out how to completely circumvent the public. here’s how that plays out:

  • every agency booz has its claws into has a RAC: a resource advisory council
  • booz stacks these RACs with cronies
  • now when booz wants to get another junk fee going, they ask the rigged RAC
  • the public notice-and-comment happens
  • the RAC floods the box with comments that say “mmm good fee”
  • they also toss any other comment complaining about the fee
  • flash bam alakazam junk fee

this is insane. not only is this a corporate pickpocket of the public’s purse, but it’s a barrier to some of the most beautiful lands in this country. teddy roosevelt is spinning in his grave. and there’s still a lottery in coyote buttes north.

yeah. let’s end this off on a hopeful note, huh?

the fee part of the FLREA expires in october this year. when congress renews it, they could add an amendment to stop booz allen’s junk fee spree.

biden’s also rocking an anti-junk-fee initiative. he might be able to assert to the thirteen agencies to cut booz’s fees out of our parks.

so hey. maybe it’ll all work out this time.

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