December 10, 2018 

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From the Sixteen to One Archives


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 By Michael Miller

07/16/2018  3:49PM

Clarence Ellis, titled his regular column of Pay Dirt June 2002, issue “MSHA Doesn’t Understand that Coal, Metal Mines Different”. I am an historical mining junkie, so this sixteen year old article was easy to find today. May it interest you as well. If you haven’t read Respondent’s brief, filed July 12, go to NEWS on this website. Become aware of a sad reality: lawlessness on display by career public employees, especially lawyers. Convictions, fines, penalties, control and withholding exculpatory evidence (remember the CDAA) measured a pathway to higher positions; even for those I respect the most: judges.

The article begins, “What happened to yesterday’s MSHA? Is there anything left of the agency that was dedicated to the miner’s personal safety? When was the Mine Safety Act amended to create a force worthy of a police state? When safety enforcement is measured by its ability to raise dollars, its primary purpose has vanished. It does not appear that any of the higher-ranking Washington bureaucrats are even remotely connected to the field personnel. It also does not appear than any of the elected officials are aware of how their constituents are being treated or they would stop the daily abuse.”

Sounds familiar to today’s miners and operators! Ellis cites the mine act approved in 1969 and amended by Congress in 1977 and asks, “If the law hasn’t changed, what happened to the way enforcement has changed? What has happened to the friendly, helpful inspector who used to visit the mines?” Well, the early work force had mining backgrounds. Most retired or passed on and were replaced by those with a totally different agenda.

Today, my industry must deal with people with no mining background. It is a slippery slide towards the extinction of the small mine operator in America.

The cause pointed out in 2002, continues today. “The problem with the agency seems to start when its people begin ignoring the 1977 Act. Then they started interpreting the 30CFR regulations in highly creative ways.”

It is a lengthy article and worthwhile which is why I recalled it easily. You are directed to the FORUM Topic “YOU JUDGE***” ENTRY July 12, 2018, and NEWS same date for an important event now in progress.

Mr. Ellis closes his article: “When any inspector forgets—or ignores his trust in bringing the Mine Safety Act to the miner, he no longer is serving his purpose. Whether the inspector involved in the action just discussed acted out of ignorance or arrogance doesn’t matter. Neither is to be tolerated if the purpose of the Act is to be fulfilled.”

 By Michael Miller

05/03/2018  11:30AM

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger
State Capitol Building
Sacramento CA 95814

May 8, 2009

Dear Governor Schwarzenegger,

Credibility is an issue, not yours but perhaps our gold mine. We get blamed for a lot of things that are not true. I am President of Original Sixteen to One Mine, located about two hours northeast from Sacramento in Sierra County. The Company is the oldest gold producer in the United States, incorporated in California in 1911. I’ve had the president’s job for twenty-six years. I am looking for your attention. As a personal reference, I offer Bruce McPherson in Santa Cruz. Bruce is a childhood, family friend. You picked a good man for Secretary of State when you chose Bruce. Give him a call. We regret his loss in the last election.

Solutions are my mantra (as it is for many pre-hippy Californians). Consider implementing the following slogan with your executive branch employees: SQUARE. I remind our hard rock underground gold miners to incorporate it into their work ethic. SQUARE. S is for safety; Q is for quality of work; U is for you; A is for “accountability; R is for responsibility; E is for efficiency. Put them all together and it creates or becomes a behavioristic model for success in any workplace.

You are desperately needed right now. I humbly seek some things from you to help the gold mine, the blue-collar workers directly, our depressed rural county and the social and physical fabric of all Californians. Become a statesman during the final years of your term and forget being a political chameleon. Smother the Sacramento “pot-house politicians” (check a large dictionary for the definition) and leave all those in the Senate and Assembly behind. Leave the Judicial Branch alone as well. Until the few scrupulous lawyers raise the bar to expected levels of integrity, honesty and lawfulness, the judicial branch will continue as America’s most despicable arena of outlaws. Tell all of them to, “Become the professionals that once walked the halls of justice. Become a statesmen, like me.” This can be your legacy to Californians, a return to the elected statesman.

The SQUARE in all three State and Federal branches is gone. If you can just fix the Executive Branch, it will set an example and get business humming in California. It will bring jobs to rural California.

Gold miners have encountered many examples of inappropriate behavior from people in the agencies you control. I wish to share with you or your appointee some experiences that others and I encounter in dealing with Sacramento. Let the other public officials make the laws and administer the justices. Your Executive Branch holds the catbird position. As Governor you hold the strongest weapon. As Dirty Harry would say, “Make my day!” Please reinvent the lost art of statesmanship. We need you in the trenches with us.

If you have never travel underground in the majestic Sierra Nevada Mountain range, consider accepting my offer to take you inside Mother Earth and see her as never before. See where plate tectonics smash together and bless our continent with one of the richest gold deposits in the world. You can bring your kids. They will love the adventure.

Sincerely yours,
Michael Meister Miller, President

 By Michael Miller

02/14/2018  12:38PM

I’m writing a brief for the two citations heard last August. MSHA agents rely on history of citations issued to a mine operator to levy penalties. During this hearing the inspector admits to her careful review of past citations and used it to speculate on our negligence; however under questioning she admits that the actual situation she saw on September 21, 2016, didn’t resemble the historic situations she reviewed. She went ahead and testified that the past history elevated the negligent. Is this justified?

Our mining operation also has a history regarding MSHA performance. The federal government will not be proud to acknowledge the past of this most valuable agency. Over my life as a responsible person for the safety of our miners, MSHA has been a root cause in harming the miners. It must change, and I sense that it will as more responsibility flows from Washington DC to its agents. Below is a correspondence I found while preparing this brief.

MSHA Archive from 1997
A subtle but perhaps most serious side effect of the agency’s and its agents’ behaviors over the past thirty months can be found in the minds of our young miners. As we train and give ongoing guidance to the nuances of underground mining, they are witnessing unreasonable behavior from a powerful force or authority. It is MSHA. Quite naturally, they are confused regarding the interpretation of this behavior. MSHA continues to create problems where none exist. MSHA has become the ones that place underground bombs throughout the land only to then offer to cure the threat of harm by becoming the ones to remove the buried, potentially lethal hazard. Does this make any sense?

Federal supervisor Bill Wilson, MSHA district office in Vacaville, warned, threatened, and intimidated that I and Original Sixteen to One Mine will receive federal citations if profanities such as the ones their traveling investigators have been experiences in Alleghany did not cease. He said we would be cited because we would be intimidating the agents. Wow. This action by Wilson obviously demonstrates and displays his furious ability to regulate and expression to intimidate. He threatened the FBI as well. What were the profanities? Several miners’ wives gave them the finger as they drove through Alleghany in their federally licensed cars.

I only imagine if they enact these threats, MSHA will master its goals of eliminating or taking over the operating of the mine(s). For without an independent or peer group determination of justice, our powerful Congressional granted agency gets in step with governments and largest conglomerated corporate organizations. Mineral extraction is big business. California is anti mining.

Distant federal agents who foster a program of intimidation and extortion stepped up their program to control the operations of mining in the United States. Slow but steady progress towards this goal enveloped the large mining companies. Why did the giants go down first? The top commanders of the large companies found the federal government a strong ally in crushing small companies and individuals seeking minerals. The reward: eliminate competition. Are there other reasons as well?

Little differences appear between the “want-to-be police enforcer” mentally displayed by field agents and a “want-to-be Perry Mason” advocate called the U.S Solicitors. My quest of discovery moves from Alleghany (the mine) and Vacaville (the field and regional headquarters of MSHA) to San Francisco (the lawyers). In this investigation, the route from San Francisco to Washington DC is very direct.

Find a way to inform Americans. Find local reporters to write an article. Contact national television personalities to do a story or interview. Our cash flow woes are a result of not finding enough gold. Our miners and company have been occupied with unreasonable demands by MSHA. We were unable to break enough rock for the statistical averages of success at our extreme high-grade gold mine to unfold.

Once a round (the daily footage advanced by an underground crew) is lost, it is never recovered. MSHA forced us to miss many rounds. Its unreasonable application of law (An Act of 1977) shifted from field agents and regional administration to US Solicitors offices in San Francisco. The country must begin looking into the behavior of a group of career federal lawyers. It seems to me that these lawyers have forgotten whom they represent. Like other silly and truly dedicated government employees, they are public servants for the tax paying American people. They forget the purpose of their work. Like poor little lambs, they have lost their way. For MSHA, it forgot the purpose it was created.



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