Sunday, April 23, 2006

More crab rats hunting stories

When received the following e-mail I thought, "Can you throw politicians out before their term is up?" You'll be wondering the same thing after reading it.

This old sardine seiner was the kind of boat that helped start the Alaska king crab fishery.

If you're an independent GOA groundfish fisherman or GOA community leader or businessman, you'll want to get them before they get you. And if you were a Bering Sea crab fisherman who got their crab stolen by the processors, you'll want to throw these crab rats out and get your crab back. And if you were an Alaskan fisherman who thought about upgrading and going after pollock, but saw it all given to Japanese executives and Chuck Bundrant, you might want to join in.

All natural rights of human beings are in the Constitution of the United States, and "rationalization" flies in the face of these rights. The reader's e-mail on the American Fisheries Act and Crab "Rationalization" follows and if it isn't a call to action, I don't know what is.

"John, the American Fisheries Act should be called the Non-Alaskan Fisheries Act (80% of all fish and crab are now harvested by non-Alaskans.) First I will show what a terrible bargain with the devil this Act is for Alaskans, then a little history of the how and why.

Through AFA, Stevens displayed his ability to carve out huge windfalls for specific companies. This time, he didn't bother with the window dressing of false problems and hearings to solve them, he simply earmarked Crab Ratz with no related hearings. The industry by now was used to special interest groups running back to Stevens to change laws to their advantage. The king of this process was Trident's Chuck Bundrant, who had a long history of regulating competition out of business.

This was to then dovetail seamlessly into a quick grab of Gulf of Alaska's last open resource by the same companies who benefitted from AFA (Gulf Rationalization). There is already a limit on the boats through the LLP process, so the resource is not at risk - this bill is meant to permantly give the resource to a handful of named beneficiaries, rather than letting the best (permitted) fishermen win, in keeping with Alaska's independent, competitive history(not to mention the free enterprise system that all immigrants come to America for, has this changed?).

Here's how it works: first you have your partner, Bart Eaton, hire Ted Stevens' son Ben to work on his crab boat, the Amatuli. Then you hire as general counsel the other Senator's chief of staff Joe Plesha, married with children to Murkowski's daughter (sadly, now deceased). Chuck could not have chosen a better lobbyist than Joe, who's children call the current govenor Grandpa. Plesha almost always starts testimony with "Trident has never declared a dividend for its shareholders, instead reinvesting its earnings back in the seafood processing industry." This statement leaves out the $42,000,000 French jet, the yacht, the island house in the San Juans, nor does it mention the size of the salary Chuck and his son Joe take from Trident Seafoods.

Then you stack the North Pacific Council with employees, both directly and indirectly, so the story from Fisheries Management matches the pitch you make back in D.C. You (and other like minded oligarchs) form a group of processors and call it the North Pacific Crab Association (NPCA), which sounds like a fisherman's group, through which you fund Crab Ratz lobbying efforts. Interestingly, the address for NPCA is 4335 Leary Way NW Seattle,WA 98107 - if you go there you will find a Superior Tire shop, but no sign of this "fisherman's group".

NPCA then starts funding Ben Stevens and his partner Trevor McCabe (another former staffer of Ben's father) through consulting fees, and it becomes a perpetual motion machine: Ted Stevens creates funding for everyone involved by taking money from taxpayers, allotting it to a new entity he creates called Alaska Fisheries Marketing Board (as opposed to the already existing Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute), appointing his son Ben and Trevor to the AFMB board, who then proceed to give out "grant" money to members such as Trident, etc, who then give lobbying fees back through various entities like their own NPCA, with it's CEO, John Garner, who is also in Trident's employ.

(Note that Garner, one of the leading proponents of Crab Ratz, sold his company, Norquest Seafoods, to Trident immediately after Crab Ratz was passed.) This is neat, but just the beginning, as Ted Stevens makes up another new entity called North Pacific Research Board (NPRB). It is funded by government through even more devious means; it gets the interest off a huge pile of money sitting in limbo stemming from a dispute between the State of Alaska and the Federal government regarding offshore oil leasing income. This new group gives away grants of up to millions of dollars to whomever they want - including Universities and members of the scientific community who might otherwise offer opinions opposing Crab Ratz. Now pack this board with employees like the last one and there is no one to say anything about the crazy lack of reason around giving away the fish and crab to a couple of large Japanese companies and Trident.

Icicle Seafoods, having been left out of most of the giveaway of the Bering Sea, began to complain and threatened to slow down Crab Ratz, so our group swung into action using tried and true methods. Ben, who is on the payroll as president of Adak Fisheries LLC, is also on the payroll as Secretary, Treasurer and Board Member of Aleut Enterprise LLC (a subsidiary of Aleut Corporation), a conflict of interest he did not disclose. He votes to transfer 70% of Aleut's rights to any future pollock quota to Adak, then Ben's father Ted just removes pollock from the AFA (pollock - who can complain?) and gives it to Aleut Corp.

Note that Ben had a "secret option" to purchase 25% of Adak Fisheries LLC, which was only revealed as a result of a court battle, and note also that Ben, who is clearly double-dealing Aleut Corp., would never be challenged by Aleut Corp., who is sitting on a naval base given them by Ted Stevens, as well as a fish quota also granted by Ted.

Now you can't lose money with a quota of 29,000 tons of pollock for free, hell they could lease that fish for $400 a ton in the water. Icicle now gets its turn and buys 50% of Adak Fisheries for $500,000. Ben gets more bonuses, and later Ben rewards Icicle seafoods with free "grant" money from Alaska Fisheries Marketing Board.
I would think this group would be under investigation for RICO, Sherman and Clayton Acts violations at the least, but Ben is the head of ethics for the Alaska Senate. I cannot begin to imagine the State Troopers arresting one of the Stevenses. Standing policy for Chief Federal Prosecutor is that the President submits names of his choices for the office to the Senator (assuming they are the same party), which means Ted Stevens got to approve President Bush's pick for Alaska's Chief Federal Prosecutor - what are the chances she is going to start a career-ending investigation?
Meanwhile if a fisherman has an error on his fish tickets he could go to jail after getting the crap fined out of him."