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Re: E-M:/ Rick Johns on Russell Harding in State Journal



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Enviro-Mich message from Tom & Anne Woiwode <woiwode@voyager.net>
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Charles and Enviro-Mich -- While I agree, absolutely, that we would all have
benefited had the DEQ staff rebelled and successfully blocked Harding from
the sanctioned damage he did, in an era where the top officials were glad to
chew up and spit out the dissenters I think those noble gestures would have
been little more than show.

The most disturbing part of the reign of toxins of the last 7 years was the
Engler Admin's effectiveness as silencing the voices of reason, especially
within the agencies.  Civil servants hold jobs I would never be willing to
live with -- and they must do the bidding of bosses who are far too often
driven by politics more than anything else.  In the environmental agencies
of this state, many of the civil servants joined to ranks of government
because they believed in the message sent out in the 1970's and 80's that
the job was one of enforcing the laws and protecting the environment. During
the 7 years of Engler/Hardingism they were too often told, instead, to
ignore their training and the laws, to say nothing to anyone (including
being prohibited from posting to Enviro-Mich), to send their decisions up
the ladder, to do the industry's bidding, etc.

I admire many of the staff who out of conscience left the agency during
these dark years, especially those who took a stand and refused to back down
and were forced out one way or another.  But I also admire those who ran
under the radar screen and were doing the best job they could.  One of the
primary reason Michigan was forced to reverse course, even under this
administration, on concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) was
because civil servants in the DEQ carefully and completely assured that the
documentation about their investigations were IN THE FILE.  In some cases,
they even made sure that the public knew that the file existed, and that the
information could be found.

Like a resistance movement, they worked in the shadows and did a lot to
assure that the absolute worst did not happen, at least while they could
control it.  In many cases, the evilest of deeds had to happen in the front
office of the agency, because the folks at ground level refused to do to the
dirty deeds.  And the Engler administration effectively undercut efforts to
expose the evil deeds: from shutting out sunlight and public review of their
actions, to keeping a tight rein on staff, to convincing much of the press
to ignore these stories.

One of the greatest gifts the new DEQ under Steve Chester's leadership can
do is give permission to these professional staff people to apply and
enforce the law as it is written.  In fact, if the Granholm administration
expresses the expectation that those who go above and beyond the call of
duty in assuring that our air is clean, our water is drinkable, and our
communities are safe will be honored instead of excoriated, I would guess
many of those who have been quietly waiting for this moment will come
forward with a vengeance.

With a new DEQ director waiting in the wings, it is a profound relief to
talk about our hopes and expectations for the new era.  I expect that we
will be greatly limited by the horrific budget disaster being left to the
Granholm administration, but Enviro-Mich subscribers are in a position to
talk knowledgably about what can and should be done.  What should Steve
Chester do on his first day in office?  Any thoughts!

Anne Woiwode 


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> Enviro-Mich message from Charles Griffith <charlesg@ecocenter.org>
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------
> 
> While I appreciate Mr. Johns' frank comments, they sure would have
> been more useful a little earlier during Mr. Harding's unfortunate
> reign.  Imagine if Mr. Johns and other former MDEQ officials had all
> gotten together a few years ago and made such proclamations. . .
> 
> Charles Griffith
> 
>> -------------------------------------------------------------------------
>> Enviro-Mich message from "Alex J. Sagady & Associates" <ajs@sagady.com>
>> -------------------------------------------------------------------------
>> 
>> Date: Sat, 21 Dec 2002 08:21:06 -0800
>> From: <awoiwodesc@earthlink.net>
>> To: enviro-mich@great-lakes.net
>> Reply-To: awoiwodesc@earthlink.net
>> Subject: Harding's biggest contribution
>> Sender: awoiwodesc@earthlink.net
>> Message-ID: <Springmail.0994.1040487666.0.79836400@webmail.pas.earthlink.net>
>> X-Originating-IP: 209.153.155.148
>> 
>> Folks:
>> 
>> In a scathing opinion piece in the Lansing State Journal today, a
>> well-respected former DEQ staffer, Rick Johns, takes issue with a resolution
>> (which I had missed) by the legislature honoring Russ Harding. Johns
>> highlights the soon to be ex director's reign of terror, and ends with this
>> marvelous observation:
>> 
>> "There's good news, though.. Harding is about to make his biggest
>> contribution
>> to environmental protection in Michigan. On Dec. 31, he will be taking an
>> election induced exit from the DEQ.
>> 
>> Thank you, Mr. Harding, and goodbye!"
>> 
>> The full Point of View is at:
>> http://www.lsj.com/opinions/letters/021221_johnptv_(deq).html
>> 
>> Anne Woiwode
>> 
>> 
>> ----------------------------------------------------------------------------
>> Alex J. Sagady & Associates  http://my.voyager.net/~ajs/sagady.pdf
>> 
>> Environmental Enforcement, Technical Review, Public Policy and
>> Communications on Air, Water and Waste/Community Environmental Protection
>> 
>> PO Box 39,  East Lansing, MI  48826-0039
>> (517) 332-6971; (517) 332-8987 (fax); ajs@sagady.com
>> ----------------------------------------------------------------------------
>> 
>> 
>> 
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> -- 
> 
> 
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> ENVIRO-MICH:  Internet List and Forum for Michigan Environmental
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