Use the press first, last, and all the time if you want to reach the public. Get rid of the attitude of personal arrogance or pride of attainment or superior knowledge.
Don’t try any sly or foxy politics, because a forester is not a politician.
Ed raised this issue in our discussion of the Shield Snafu here, and it seems like a rich and important area. What do we mean when we say that? Traditionally, we were attached to the idea of having a career Chief.. yet if that would mean that all key decisions were kept from her/him (not saying that that is the case, I have no idea) because they are made by politicals, would that still be valuable? I don’t know.
So I thought I would expound on my opinion, and let others give their impressions. After all the Dept of the Interior has a new secretary, the USDA (will get) a new undersecretary.. perhaps one of their future staff folks will read this and consider it in deciding how to approach their work.
First, federal agencies are in the executive branch. So when one party wins, they get to have their buddies take the reins, and have primary seats on the policy advice team. They also get to reward people of varying talents, experience, and management capabilities with political jobs; often overseeing large organizations.
Let’s take a look at this article on the new Interior Secretary, Sally Jewell.
“When you think about this appointment, it’s the first time you have someone—a CEO—from our industry coming into the Department of the Interior,” Frank Hugelmeyer, OIA’s CEO, tells Quartz. “I actually find this curious, that this is a big surprise. When you look at Treasury secretaries, they’re often from the investment world. So we see this as completely appropriate and overdue.”
So if it’s OK to get CEOS (“appropriate and overdue!”) from industry for secretaries, do all industries count? Like the CEO of Monsanto for USDA Secretary? And did that work well for SEC? .. anyway, that’s a bit of an aside..
But you know, I don’t really think it’s about policy. I don’t. I don’t even care if they picked Salazar and Sherman to have an in with Colorado in the last election (pickin’ people for political purposes) as long as they’re good folks. I think it’s about how you work with the career folks and whether you treat them with respect (as fuzzy wuzzy as that is).
Like if your buddy is a neighbor to a timber sale, do you go through channels to ask questions? Do you assume your buddy is right and your employees are yo-ho’s? Do you make glaring press-covered mistakes about diversity and then flagellate others as your penance? Do you appear to spend scarce government funds on secret dumb ideas that don’t seem to have any practical role? Do you call some science folks going to a conference and tell them they can’t go because it’s a swing state during an election and could be targeted as wasteful?
I worked in DC during three administrations (close enough to observe a lot of behavior), so I have seen some things. You can read Jack Ward Thomas’s journal for some of the things he found annoying. Again, my hypothesis is that it’s not what politicals believe so much, as the actions they do to carry out their policies and how they treat career employees in general (not just their buddies). Like trusting them to do their communications job, and just jumping on specific ones when they screw up. In a large organization, people will always screw up..so keeping them from doing their job is not really a solution. At least I didn’t learn that in any management course I took.
I remember a new Undersecretary coming in once, and I attended a meeting where he was talking to alumni of our mutual school. He gave me the impression that he thought of the FS as a bunch of dinosaurs who would staunchly resist all inklings of Goodness and Light. At the time, I remember looking up a quote, something about “if you want to change people, first you have to love them” but I can’t find it now. Maybe that’s a bit strong. Or as I used to say about Ronald Reagan “if he really believes that federal employees are so useless, why does he want to be out boss?”
Anyway, what does “politicization” of the FS mean to you, good or bad? You are welcome to share your experiences.
It’s not a surprise that the Forest Service is hiding their response to the sequestration. Simply put, modern projects treat more acres and cut numerous small trees. They cannot accomplish this work without temporary employees. My last year’s Ranger District currently has TWO permanent timber employees, and two others shared with another (larger) Ranger District. I wonder if our Collaborative funds will be returned to the Treasury if projects aren’t completed.
I guess the only way to find out how bad it will be is to welcome the collapse, then decide how to fix it. Meanwhile, the best of the temporaries will find careers (or jobs) elsewhere, and they won’t be coming back. It is hard enough to live on just 6 months of work, each year.
Here’s a link, and below is an excerpt:
Areas of agreement?
Despite their differences, both Bishop and Grijalva said they are optimistic that the 113th Congress could reach bipartisan compromises on public lands issues that have eluded it over the past two years.
Bishop, for one, said he could support conservation bills if Democrats are willing to allow management decisions on federal lands to be made locally rather than in Washington.
“I may surprise some people with what I’m willing to do if people are willing to make trades,” Bishop said. “If there’s anything that Grijalva wants to work with me on that moves it so local people actually control their own destiny, I’m actually very willing to talk to him about it.”
But Bishop acknowledged that there was little, if any, discussion last Congress about a viable package of lands bills that could pass Congress, despite the introduction of a handful of Republican-sponsored conservation bills.
The House’s biggest conservation act last Congress was passage of a bill elevating Pinnacles National Monument in California to full national park status. Some conservation measures reached the Senate floor last Congress, but the chamber, on the whole, didn’t accomplish much more. It, too, failed to introduce a public lands package.
Bishop said much of the subcommittee’s agenda will also depend on his discussions with Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), the new chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, with whom Bishop said he sees a greater chance at compromise.
Grijalva said he is willing to limit his ambitions for land protections in order to meet Republicans halfway.
“While the rhetoric may not be scaled down, I think there is some room for compromise on some scaled-back public lands issues, particularly around designations and acquisitions,” he said. “We can’t disengage from that bluster, but I hope we take some responsibility for the fact that it was a dismal, dismal performance [last Congress] passing legislation and getting legislation done.”
Reading the quotes from Bishop and Grijalva, it sounds like well, they could disengage from the bluster and actually do something productive. I wonder what it would take for the people in the middle to hold this committee accountable for something more productive than “rhetoric” and “bluster”?
We’ve had many discussions about Montana Senators on this blog… thought this article from High Country News was worthy of posting. Here is the link and below are excerpts.
Such spending played a greater role in the Montana Senate race than almost any other. With control of the U.S. Senate potentially at stake, candidates, parties and independent groups spent more than $51 million on this contest, all to win over fewer than 500,000 voters. That’s twice as much as was spent when Tester was elected in 2006.
Almost one quarter of that was dark money, donated secretly to nonprofits.
“It just seems so out of place here,” said Democrat Brian Schweitzer, the governor of Montana who leaves office at the end of this year. “About one hundred dollars spent for every person who cast a vote. Pretty spectacular, huh? And most of it, we don’t have any idea where it came from. Day after the election, they closed up shop and disappeared into the dark.”
Political insiders say the Montana Senate race provided a particularly telling glimpse at how campaigns are run in the no-holds-barred climate created by the Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United decision, giving a real-world counterpoint to the court’s assertion that voters could learn all they needed to know about campaign funding from disclosure.
Montana Republicans blamed Montana Hunters and Anglers, made up of a super PAC and a sister dark money nonprofit, for tipping the race. Even though super PACs have to report their donors, the Montana Hunters and Anglers super PAC functioned almost like a dark money group. Records show its major donors included an environmentalist group that didn’t report its donors and two super PACs that in turn raised the bulk of their money from the environmentalist group, other dark money groups and unions.
“Part of what’s frustrating to me is I look at Montana Hunters and Anglers and say, ‘That is not fair,’” said Bowen Greenwood, executive director for the Montana Republican Party. “I am a hunter. I know plenty of hunters. And Montana hunters don’t have their positions. It would be fairer if it was called Montana Environmental Activists. That would change the effect of their ads.”
Cox and Tester deny the group’s efforts swung the race. No one from Montana Hunters and Anglers returned calls for comment.
Note from Sharon: I know that we are a nation of laws, and that law is interpreted by courts, and the Supreme Court, is, well, Supreme, but something about this creeps me out. I wonder what environmental group was doing the funding.
(One of my pictures from the Biscuit Fire)
From Greg Walden’s Facebook posting:
I just got off the phone with Kent Connaughton, the Forest Service’s Regional Forester for Oregon. In September, I brought Kent to Lakeview to meet with landowners who suffered horrible losses of timber and livestock during the Barry Point fire. These landowners are very concerned with how the Forest Service fought the fire and are trying to figure out how to cope with the losses they’ve suffered.Kent gave me a status update tonight, and here is what I learned:
1) The Forest Service is conducting an independent review of its own operations during the Barry Point fire. It is still in the works, but Kent believes it raises a number of unanswered questions, and he has asked for a more formal review by the states of Oregon and California. He will share a copy of the report once it is completed next month, and I look forward to getting to the bottom of these unanswered questions.
2) Kent has sent a special team into the Fremont-Winema National Forest to ensure there is no disruption in timber supply due to the fires. The Forest Service has also announced it will make 30 million board feet of timber available for each of the next two years, double the current production.
3) Kent also gave me an update on the Forest Service’s work with affected ranchers and landowners on recovery and repair to fences and property damaged during the fire. The Forest Service is putting $100,000 into the repair of fences destroyed during firefighting, and an additional $350,000 for materials to repair fences destroyed by the fire. Additionally, the Farm Services Administration is making $196,000 available to landowners for use in repairs.
It is good news that this fire recovery work continues, but we need to see it through to the finish. I will continue to work with citizens recovering from these wildfire disasters and make sure that all levels of government are helping with recovery as quickly as possible.
This is an op-ed in the Denver Post by Dr.Patty Limerick of the Center of the American West. Note: you can order T-shirts with Gifford Pinchot’s quote here. I am posting because some of the research she cites may be just as true of positions and debates over land management. (I feel the same as she about being “civilian casualties” in a “battleground” state.)
Here’s the link, and below are some excerpts.
CU psychology professor Leaf Van Boven has been doing extraordinary research challenging the popular perception that polarization is the operating mode preferred by the American citizenry, and revealing, instead, the existence of a majority of moderates.
Van Boven’s work makes a close match to the findings of CU business professor Philip M. Fernbach. People asked to “justify” their political position become more entrenched and less moderate, Fernbach reports in a New York Times essay co-authored with Steven Sloman, a professor at Brown University. But ask people to “explain how [their] policy ideas work,” and “they become more moderate in their political views.” When people “explain, not just assert” they come to recognize the limits of their knowledge and become correspondingly more flexible and tolerant.
Thus, Sloman and Fernbach argue, if we are tired of extremism, “we can start to fix it by acknowledging that we know a lot less than we think.”
In a campaign season in which advertisements, speeches, and debate performances consisted almost entirely of assertion, the idea of “explaining” comes forward as a wonderfully appealing and restorative alternative.
Fellow citizens, public officials, and aspiring candidates, join me in starting this Wednesday in this manner: contemplate what Adams wrote to Jefferson on July 15, 1813, and then imagine a world in which we took to heart the example that these two old men bequeathed to us:
“You and I ought not to die, before We have explained ourselves to each other.”
We do a great deal of this on this blog, and hope that we continue to do so.
I’m not really that confident that he has a handle of these issues, and he obviously avoids all partisan political issues, which impact the Forest Service in significant ways.
In September Char Miller didn’t give much credit to what he called Rob Bishop’s “Sputtering Sagebrush Rebellion“, [KCET's "The Back Forty", 09/21/2011]. Miller suggested that the rebellion might backfire in two ways, first by challenging President Obama to follow Bill Clinton’s lead by either invoking the Antiquities Act to establish yet-another national monument at the end of his term of office, or by helping to rally voters in favor of retaining both the public lands in federal ownership and Obama in the White House come November. But Utah’s Governor Hebert and Utah’s predominantly Republican legislators seem intent on pursuing this “Sagebrush Rebellion” at least as election-year politics, and maybe as a means to gain traction in the upcoming battle over federal education dollars in what we’ve called the “Secure Rural Schools” or “County Payments” debate that will heat up this summer. [Note: Rob Bishop is Chair of the Natural Resources Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests, and Public Lands, US House of Representatives.] A little more on the issue:
(From Ogden Standard-Examiner, Showdown Looms over Utah’s Public Lands, [02/27/2012])
There are four bills now in front of the Utah House of Representatives that form the basis of a legal challenge to the federal government’s right to control approximately two-thirds of the land in the state. The bills invoke promises dating back to when Utah gained statehood in 1896.
One resolution, sponsored by Rep. Roger Barrus, R-Centerville, calls for the federal government to turn over control of the land to the state by Dec. 31, 2014. …
To gain statehood, the Utah Enabling Act contained language stipulating that, as federal lands were transferred to the state, where they could then generate tax revenue, 5 percent of the funds would go to a trust fund for education. Most of the land has never left federal hands, and subsequently, the revenue stream has never developed. A number of officials claim that is why Utah ranks near the bottom of per-pupil funding.
U.S. Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, says the land debate raises big constitutional issues. He cites notes from the Constitutional Convention of 1787, in which Elbridge Gerry, a delegate from Massachusetts who would become the fifth vice president of the U.S., worried that federal control of land within a state would allow the federal government to force states to give “humble obedience” to the government.
“That concern 225 years ago still remains today. If you give too much land to the federal government, and let them hold it, and let them declare it (tax) exempt, you have a problem,” Lee said. He said Utah students and teachers deserve the revenue the land should be generating. Lee said Utahns also deserve the right to be on equal footing with other states that have few federal land holdings within their borders.
U.S. Rep. Rob Bishop, R-Utah, estimated in 2011 the revenue the state could generate by being able to impose a small tax on federal land holdings. He suggested that placing a fair tax on those properties, if they are not returned to the private sector, could provide a financial boon to education. He said even sagebrush property taxed at its lowest rate could potentially generate $116 million a year for the state. …
He said the land-use paradigms at the federal level change about every 40 or 50 years. He said it has been almost 50 years since the last change, and he thinks the Legislature’s efforts could be very timely.
“It is time, it is ripe for that discussion,” Bishop said.
[Rep. Roger Barrus, R-Centerville] said he and other lawmakers are prepared for a drawn-out dispute with the federal government. He expects neighboring states, including Idaho, Montana, Arizona and Nevada, to join the fray as well. He said the federal government has just not kept its promises. He likened the problem to the issue facing early colonists in America who had a feudal landlord in Great Britain.
[Update: March 23] Utah Governor Signs Bill Demanding Federal Lands
Gov. Gary Herbert signed a bill Friday that demands the federal government relinquish control of public lands in Utah by 2014, setting the table for a potential legal battle over millions of acres in the state. …
What do They Really Want?
While working up this post I ran into an expose of the late-1970s—early-1980s Sagebrush Rebellion, by Frank J. Popper titled “A Timely End of the Sagebrush Rebellion” (pdf), National Affairs 76, Summer 1984. Popper suggests that in the end the “Rebels” may have won a victory from what seemed to many a loss, in part by opening up the process of slowly selling some of the federal lands. It’s a point to ponder, when trying to figure out today’s Rebels want as they prepare for “a drawn-out dispute with the federal government” for control of lands they probably don’t really want—if they stop to think about it. To Popper:
The Sagebrush Rebellion did not fail—it ended because it achieved many of its goals. The Reagan administration rapidly found clever, politically appealing ways to start to transfer some public lands without having to ask Congress for new legislation. Watt’s Interior Department undertook a “good neighbor policy” that allowed state and local governments to request the department’s “surplus” lands. The initiative was soon broadened to an Asset Management Program whereby all federal agencies could sell their excess land in the West and elsewhere; the eventual sale of 35 million acres–an area the size of Iowa–was expected. Separately, the Forest Service prepared to sell up to 17 million acres. The federal land agencies sped up the transfers to Alaska’s state government and Native Americans authorized by the 1958 Statehood Act, the 1971 Native Claims Settlement Act, and the 1980 National Interest Lands Conservation Act. The BLM experimentally revived homesteading in the Kuskokwim Mountains in central Alaska. Numerous federal-Western state land exchanges were in exploratory stages, and seemed most advanced in Utah. [p. 68]
Hearing: Forest Service Regulatory Roadblocks to Productive Land Use and Recreation: Proposed Planning Rule, Special-use Permits, and Travel Management
You can find the archived video, and written testimony here.
If you look at the “Truth in Testimony” forms, you can find out additional information on the backgrounds of the witnesses.
By NBC’s Jo Ling Kent
GILFORD, N.H. — After a lunch speech today, Ron Paul slammed the Federal Emergency Management Agency, or FEMA, and said that no national response to Hurricane Irene is necessary.
“We should be like 1900; we should be like 1940, 1950, 1960,” Paul said. “I live on the Gulf Coast; we deal with hurricanes all the time. Galveston is in my district.
“There’s no magic about FEMA. They’re a great contribution to deficit financing and quite frankly they don’t have a penny in the bank. We should be coordinated but coordinated voluntarily with the states,” Paul told NBC News. “A state can decide. We don’t need somebody in Washington.”
Fox News thinks that while we’re at it we should eliminate the National Weather Service as well.
Perhaps it’s time to also do away with “Federal” forests. We could just let “The Market” decide, couldn’t we? No need for Federal managers, ‘ologists, foresters, firefighters, and certainly not planners!