NPS Bias

Documents show the Park Service’s culture of bias and hostility against those who recreate with their dogs in the GGNRA.  They also reveal the Park Service’s attitude towards groups and elected officials who have spoken out against their highly restrictive dog plan, and towards reporters who have covered the issue.   

Senior GGNRA Official on Language for the "Dog-Obsessed Bay Area"

Jan. 2013: GGNRA Director of Communications & Partnerships Howard Levitt email to Shirwin Smith (former GGNRA management assistant) and Alexandra Picavet (GGNRA Public Affairs Specialist). Levitt writes, “Is ‘dog guardian’ the accepted term, or is it something specific to the dog-centric, dog-obsessed Bay Area? I will fall on my sword over including the dog language – it’s got to go.”

GGNRA Senior Official Derides SF Supervisor Critical of the Dog Plan

May 2013: Howard Levitt to Shirwin Smith and GGNRA Superintendent Frank Dean re SF Supervisor Scott Wiener attending the Million Dog March: “I guess we can assume he owns a Wiener dog.”

GGNRA Senior Official Makes Fun of Concerned Dog Owners

May 2013: Howard Levitt email to colleague Christine Carey (San Mateo County Community Planner for GGNRA) about emails from a San Mateo community member expressing concerns about restrictions on dog walking in Rancho Corral de Tierra: “Psychiatrists charge hundreds of dollars per hour for the venting opportunity you are giving [community member’s name] free of charge.” After the community member gets a letter published in the Half Moon Bay Review, Levitt writes, “We’re gonna miss seeing old [community member's name] and her dog in the park!”

GGNRA Bias Towards Citizens Opposing the Dog Plan

May 2013: Howard Levitt sarcastic email to colleague Christine Carey about emails from a concerned San Mateo community member. “What a gracious, lovely, kind person …”

People and Dogs in the GGNRA Look Too Happy

Aug. 2013: Shirwin Smith email to NPS Spokesperson Christine Powell, GGNRA Superintendent Frank Dean and other NPS staff refers to a previous email in which someone asked for photos in a dog management plan briefing for the Department of the Interior to be switched out: “If you’re referring to the comment along the lines of ‘what’s the problem? All the dogs and people look happy in these photos”’, yes, this briefing addressed that.”

GGNRA's Contempt for Elected Officials Opposed to their Dog Plan

Sept. 2013: Howard Levitt email to GGNRA Superintendent Frank Dean and other NPS staff about San Francisco Supervisor Scott Wiener:

“He [Supervisor Scott Wiener] refuses the leash, and has yet to be house trained.”

GGNRA's Contempt for Stakeholder Group Leaders Critical of the Dog Plan

Sept. 2013: Alexandra Picavet email to Howard Levitt, GGNRA Superintendent Frank Dean and others regarding Crissy Field Dog Group leader Martha Walters being quoted in the New York Times: “Martha at her beast.”

GGNRA's Continued Hostility Toward a San Francisco Supervisor

Oct. 2013: Alexandra Picavet to GGNRA Superintendent Frank Dean and other NPS staff in response to an email from SF Supervisor Scott Wiener’s aide asking if the GGNRA will be attending an upcoming Board of Supervisors hearing on the dog plan: “I cannot believe they sent this today. Maybe they don’t know we are part of the federal government. It would explain much of his [Supervisor Scott Wiener’s] past behavior.”

Dodging Off-leash Dog Walking Question from Reporter

Oct. 2013: Howard Levitt email to Alexandra Picavet on dodging Mission Local reporter’s question about how much off-leash dog walking space will be cut in the dog management plan:  “She’s trying an end run because I dodged this question when she asked me yesterday.” A day later, he says, “I am sure she got my out-of-office notice.  I’ll stick with that.”

Senior GGNRA Official Deriding Columnist Critical of the Dog Plan

Nov. 2013: Howard Levitt email to Shirwin Smith making fun of a column by San Francisco Examiner op-ed columnist Joel Engardio. Levitt calls the column “prize-winning journalism.”

GGNRA on "Political Interference" from Leader Nancy Pelosi

Dec. 2013: Howard Levitt email to GGNRA Superintendent Frank Dean in response to request from U.S. House of Representatives Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi to extend the public comment period on the dog management plan. Levitt says, “Frank: Political Interference – the new park management paradigm. Here we go again.” Dean responds, ” Yep and they don’t check first for our perspective.”

GGNRA on Congresswoman Speier's Request to Meet with Secretary of the Interior

Jan. 2014: Howard Levitt email to Christine Powell. Congresswoman Jackie Speier had requested a meeting with Interior Secretary Sally Jewell and turned down an offer to meet with Acting Assistant Secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks, Rachel Jacobson, instead. Levitt says, “Re. Speier only willing to meet with the [Interior] Sec, next time I come to DC, I only want to meet with POTUS.”

GGNRA Dismissal of Columnist Critical of the Dog Plan

Jan. 2014: GGNRA Superintendent Frank Dean email to Howard Levitt and other NPS staff. Dean comments on an article by SF Chronicle columnist Tom Steinstra: “More poor journalism relying exclusively on content from a very organized opposition to the dog plan. Author has also had a beef with loss of ‘traditional’ rangers and wardens for years.”

The Middle Finger for Dog Owners

April 2014:  GGNRA Director of Communications & Partnerships Howard Levitt to Kimberly Kiefer (San Francisco Recreation and Parks) commenting on his broken finger. 

“Ironically, it’s my middle finger [that's broken]…probably broke it expressing my opinion of out of control off leash dog visitors.”

GGNRA's Dismissal of Marin County DOG Leader's Concerns about the Dog Plan

April 2014: Alexandra Picavet email to Howard Levitt on responding to Marin County DOG leader Laura Lovitt Pandapas’ email about incorrect signage in the GGNRA. “I will respond to Laura again, but she will never hear us for the sound of her own complaints.”

GGNRA's "Talking Points" on their General Management Plan

May 2014: Howard Levitt email to Brian Aviles (GGNRA Chief of Planning and Compliance) commenting on the GGNRA General Management Plan. 

“Brian, by now I think I’ve mastered the essence of the GMP. My key messages - … Dogs and their owners will be rounded up and imprisoned in gulag-type prison camps. … We will erect electrified barb-wire fences around all areas of the park designated “natural,” and patrol those areas with specially trained rottweilers.”

GGNRA Superintendent on GGNRA Founder Huey Johnson's Op-ed 

May 2014: GGNRA Superintendent Frank Dean email to Greg Moore and David Shaw of the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy. Dean calls a Marin Independent Journal op-ed about recreation in the GGNRA by former California Secretary for Resources and GGNRA Founder Huey Johnson “unfortunate and off the rails.”

Senior GGNRA Official's View on Supporters of Dog Walking

June 2014: Email between GGNRA Chief of Natural Resources Management & Research Daphne Hatch, Alexandra Picavet and Howard Levitt re Pt. Reyes Light reporter’s question about improved water quality at Muir Beach and whether this was evidence that dogs do not significantly contribute to bacteria in water.  Levitt’s response to his co-workers:  “When your mind is on the dogs, everything looks like a hydrant.”

GGNRA Comparing Dog Owners to Rattlesnakes

July 2014: Howard Levitt email to David Loeb (Bay Nature magazine):

“The problem with your idea, David, is that rabid off leash dog owners ARE rattlesnakes!”