Some rabid Bay Area dog owners are blowing the whistle in an attempt to demonstrate that the National Park Service's process for creating some highly controversial new rules for dogs in coastal park areas was unfairly conducted, a last-ditch attempt to keep those now-finalized rules from taking effect. Several dozen documents that purport to show officials sought to destroy emails, failed to save administrative records, and "collaborated" with outside groups to promote their biased, "anti-dog" agenda have been posted online in a data dump called "WoofieLeaks" grandly stylized after Wikileaks.
New rules first proposed last February are now set to substantially reduce the number of off-leash dog sites and even on-leash zones in the Golden Gate National Recreation Area —80,000 acres of coastal parkland that encompasses Fort Funston, Crissy Field, and other popular dog-walking destinations in San Francisco and Marin counties. The specter of these changes has deeply riled the Bay Area's powerful canine-loving constituency, and in April, the umbrella group Save Our Recreation went so far as to bring a lawsuit seeking data from the National Park Service on the impact of dogs on the area, because they hadn't heard a response from a Freedom of Information Act request. The final rules for the Golden Gate National Recreation Area were released in December, to be implemented at some point later this year after they're entered in the Federal Register.
That's where WoofieLeaks comes in. "We’ve found documents that show that their process was really not fair, they were really biased against people who supported dog walking,” Andrea Buffa, a member of Save our Recreation tells Bay City news. The documents were obtained legally via the lawsuit, which was filed by the law firm Morrison & Foerster against the National Park Service on behalf of the aggrieved dog owner advocacy groups: Save Our Recreation, SFDOG, Marin County DOG, and Coastside DOG of San Mateo County.
The trove of WoofieLeaks emails from Golden Gate National Recreation Area officials include, for example, calls to conduct business via phone and, at one point, to delete emails.
But perhaps less damning is an entire section devoted to perceived "anti-dog" bias from National Park Service staffers. “Is ‘dog guardian’ the accepted term, or is it something specific to the dog-centric, dog-obsessed Bay Area?" one staffer wrote in what the WoofieLeakers consider an instance of unfair, mocking treatment. Another instance: A GGNRA official "derided" then-Supervisor Scott Wiener's critical position on the dog plan. Howard Levitt wrote to Shirwin Smith and GGNRA Superintendent Frank Dean, regarding Supervisor Scott Wiener attending the Million Dog March, “I guess we can assume he owns a Wiener dog.” Monstrous.
“We always suspected the whole process from the beginning to the end was rigged," as Buffa put it to the Marin Independent Journal, sounding a bit like a dog with a bone, "and now we have the proof."
Update: The GGNRA has issued a statement on the matter, and it sounds like the idea is to just bury "WoofieLeaks" under a pile of disclosure.
"The Golden Gate National Recreation Area has released more than 260,000 pages of records, and is continuing to process additional records, related to the development of a dog management plan for the park in response to a Freedom of Information Act request and subsequent lawsuit seeking documents dating back to 1999."
If you have some free time and literally nothing else to fill it with, consider visiting the GGNRA's online FOIA reading room.