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Re: SVP statement on Dr. Rensberger-Burke Museum

The lack of interest, Bob, I believe is simply embarassment on belalf of the academic community. Everyone is so quick to condemn private and commercial collectors, (both in a legal sense and also in regards to SVP guidelines) when they would do something like this. However, when it is one of their own, they simply stick their heads in the sand and pretend it isn't happening, offer up lame excuses to justify his behaviour (defending it by saying he has done far more good than harm), or offer a slap-on-the-wrist "you do it again and boy you're gonne get it" response.

It's hypocrisy pure and simple.

Ever see the film "Erik the Viking"? remmber when the island is sinking, and Terry Jones- King Arnulf- is up to his hips in water, and is just saying over and over again "no, this isn't happening..."...

same thing.

I'd be willing to bet the federal government won't prosecute him. Why should they? After all...he's one of the good guys, right??? :-)

----- Original Message ----- From: "Robert Simon" <dino_safaris@yahoo.com>
To: <dinosaur@usc.edu>
Sent: Wednesday, October 18, 2006 10:30 AM
Subject: Re: SVP statement on Dr. Rensberger-Burke Museum

I was surprised by the lack of interest concerning
this subject. Interesting and dangerous precedent is
being set by the SVP. It's action to in effect, circle
the wagons and protect one of its own could have
far-reaching implications. Failure to 'truly' condemn
his improper authorization to conduct work on BLM
lands (I believe illegal collecting of vertebrate
fossils on federal lands can be prosecuted as a
felony) and failure of any prosecution/fines by the
BLM could be used by a good lawyer to set and
substantiate precedent for anyone to collect on BLM
lands. Just takes a good lawyer, and person willing to
make the challenge, to use a situation such as this to
virtually disavow the ban of collecting vertebrate
fossils (or at least minimize any form of
prosecution/fines) on public lands using case law and
precedent. 'Normal, non-PhD, non-academic people' do
not get such second chances from the BLM or SVP I bet.
Ignorance of the law is not a viable defense. It will
be very interesting to see if the BLM prosecutes/fines
or not.

Bob Simon

--- mkirkaldy@aol.com wrote:

SVP has a statement on its website about the Dr.
Museum collection problems:

"The SVP Executive Committee has received the report
recommendations of the Ethics Education Committee
regarding allegations
concerning Dr. John Rensberger, formerly at the
Burke Museum,
University of Washington."

"There was some divergence of professional opinion
in the reports
regarding the first two allegations, but the SVP
Ethics Education
Committee concluded that the fossil collections
resulting from Dr.
Rensbergerâ?Ts fieldwork are properly deposited in a
public institution
(the Burke Museum) and have been well curated by Dr.
Rensberger and the
current curatorial staff of the Burke Museum."

"Regarding the third allegation, it is clear that on
a number of
occasions, Dr. Rensberger neglected to obtain proper
authorization to
conduct paleontological fieldwork on public lands.
Failure to obtain
proper collecting permits was in violation of both
the SVP Ethics Bylaw
and the regulations of the public land-management
agencies. This
omission was inappropriate and undermines the
reputation of our
profession. If Dr. Rensberger continues to conduct
fieldwork in this manner, the Executive Committee
will recommend
termination of his membership from the Society,
following the
procedures outlined in the SVP Bylaws, Article 1,
Section 6."


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