Friday, August 16, 2013

Forest service drops prosecution of kiddie picnic after Murkowski intervenes

After getting blasted by a U.S. senator for heavy-handedness, the U.S. Forest Service has backed down after one of its cops issued a Southeast Alaska daycare provider a $350 fine for taking a batch of children to the Tongass National Forest for a picnic. In what could go down as another example of tyranny in a state that bristles at federal intervention, the officer, Doug Ault, claimed Auntie's Day Care needed a commercial permit for the playtime lunch involving six children. That's according to Marilyn Mork, the "auntie" and owner of the Wrangell daycare. She said the picnic in June was an impromptu decision when the weather turned out to be sunny, and all she and the kids did was eat at a picnic table, play a bit and sit in a boat tied to a dock for photos. Several weeks later, Ault showed up at her door on a Sunday and asked if she'd visited the park. After she told him all about the visit with the kids, ranging in ages from 3 to 8, he ticketed her. As she understood the regulation, she's supposed to have a permit if she's making money on activities at the park. But she wasn't. "I can understand if I'm a taxi cab giving a tour in the park, but I just took children there to play and learn. It's not like I charged the kids' parents a fee to go there," said Mork, 48 and a grandmother of eight. Mork said she occasionally takes her wee charges there. What's wrong with that, she wondered? Apparently nothing, since the ticket was dropped, something she learned when a Forest Service law officer called her on Thursday and said the ticket was on his desk and going nowhere...more

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