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

Enviro-Mich message from fred cowles <fecowles@yahoo.com>

Hi Chuck,

I tend to agree with you.  After working for years,
making presentations to the Water Resources
Commission, I found the process on the whole very
useful.  Of course, the commission was a major pain in
the butt.  We would barely finish one meeting and we
were planning for the next.  One commissioner or
another would dig deeper than the others, causing the
staff to "keep on their toes".  But that is a good

It was inefficient.  Democracy always is.  But anyone
could actually see the decisions being made (most of
the time).  There really were back room deals cut, but
that is also part of the process.  

I was sad to see the  commission go.  The Engler
system was much more efficient, but not better.   

======= Fred

--- Cubbagec@aol.com wrote:
> Mark,
> 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 :>)
> Regards,
> Chuck 

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