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Re: E-M:/ Let the governor be governor

See my imbedded comments below:

In a message dated 05/19/2003 9:42:19 AM Eastern Daylight Time, Mark.Richardson@co.macomb.mi.us writes:

While I favor commission governance as a way of insulating environmental decision making from politics, I don't want to go all the way back to the 17 or so commissions we had. 

I'm curious as to why you wouldn't want to go back to the 19 commissions/boards?
I have been known to quote Thomas Jefferson's letter: If we believe the people are unable to exercise their control with a wholesome discretion, the remedy is not to take it from them, but to inform their discretion".

With the multiple commission approach, the affected publics (using the term to refer to those who were impacted) were both given a discrete voice and an opportunity to learn.  And it clearly held state agency folks accountable in a public way for all - not just the affected publics - to see!!  Now if you want accountability for the exec branch of govt. put issues in public on a regular basis and do it in discrete media sections so that those publics who are knowledgeble can come and comment and ask question, and be informed. 

Needless to say, I am a fan of the commisions.  Sure there are drawbacks, but find me where alternatives do as good a job of making accountabilitiy (or the lack of it) visible.  There are of course numerous overlaps and natural resources do not respect our artificial boundaries whether they are geo-political, or even air soil or water (media) specific.  On the other hand, the numerous commissions provided a reasonable focus.

   I think Michigan should look hard at ways to streamline and unify environmental

permitting and I would look to a full-time PSC type body to make permitting and rule making decisions.  Any thoughts? No question about the need for improvement in the permitting process.  On the other hand, I'm not sure I know what streamlining means. 

   If I were to comment on a defect of the current process, I would identify the
reticence of state agencies to participate formally in the permit application completion process.  The rules and process relies on the applicant (and private sector consultants) to do all the work.  There are some excellent staff people who readily interact informally with applicants to complete the process, but the end result is an elongated exchange of permit application exchanges. 

The problems folks will see with my suggestion are several, including: if you make the staff part of the application completion process, they are "in bed" with the applicant.  It need not be so, if criteria are established for the assistance.  Why should we all waste time letting an applicant submit unacceptable information?  And then have another round of paperwork eating up valuable time, etc.  I won't go on with other problems, e.g., staff having a stake in the process, not having a transparent process for others concerned with the application, etc. 

But I would favor a new Ad Hoc group to 1: identify what are the permit problems (from all our collective perspectives) 2, ID what we want to have happen (faster, more transparent) and then 3. suggestions as to how to make it all work better while maintaining the features we all want to have.
No doubt there will be some mutually exclusive items :>)  But what we have needs improvement - on that I think all will agree.

Oh well, you asked :>)


I would suggest setting criteria for emphasis is on