Tag Archives: Gov. Chris Gregoire

Jay Manning moves on to become gov’s chief of staff

UPDATE: June 29, 2011

If you haven’t heard, Kitsap native Jay Manning has announced his resignation as the governor’s chief of staff. The Seattle Times’ Andrew Garber has the story and Jay’s e-mail to his staff.

I haven’t talked to him since the announcement, but I’ll check in with him later. After he took the job, we discussed his new responsibilities, as reported below. For what it’s worth, I wish him the best.
——

Jay Manning, who has headed the Washington Department of Ecology the past four-plus years, is moving into somewhat uncharted territory as the governor’s chief of staff.

Manning, a native of Manchester in Kitsap County, has always been associated with environmental issues and occasional environmental battles. Now, he will use his organizational and negotiation skills to work alongside Gov. Chris Gregoire.

“Jay Manning brings incredible leadership skills and knowledge of our state to this new position,” Gregoire said in a news release. “He works effectively with citizens all across our state. He has an extraordinary ability to bring people together to forge solutions to difficult problems and seize opportunities for Washington state.”

I reached Jay Manning this afternoon to congratulate him and ask him what the heck he was thinking.

He told me that both the Ecology director post and his new chief of staff position include an “incredible array of issues,” but the new job comes with a broader range of responsibilities. It will require him to become more of a generalist, which is a new challenge for him.

“I have focused on environmental issues my whole career, and that is where my heart will always be,” he told me. “But I look forward to a full immersion in all the areas of state government.”

It will be a learning experience as he gets up to speed on all state agencies, learns about budgets and economic stimulus programs, and gets entangled in state politics like he’s never seen before.

Of course, I am interested in Manning’s successor. Hiring the new Ecology director will be one of the first priorities of his new position, he said.

“I think the agency is highly functional as it is, but my job will be to get good candidates before her (Gregoire) for selection,” he said, adding that he has placed a proposed selection process on her desk but hasn’t heard back yet.

I would guess that candidates are likely to come from within Ecology or at least be someone who Manning and the governor know fairly well.

“I will want to move quickly on this,” Jay said, “and I think she does, too.”

Manning has taken on some tough issues as Ecology director, including battles over Hanford and climate change. Not everyone agrees with the agency’s decisions, but Manning has never hesitated to lay out the rationale behind them.

Through it all, it seems that Jay has remained well respected among those who have dealt with him. Of course, I wish him well in his new position and look forward to working with his replacement.

If you’d like to read a profile on Manning and hear him discuss the issues in his own words, go to the Feb. 16, 2008, story in the Kitsap Sun.

How many natural resource agencies do we need?

It will be interesting to see whether state employees and outside observers settle on more, fewer or the same number of natural resource agencies than we now have in Washington state. As I describe in a story in today’s Kitsap Sun, just about everything is on the table for review.

When I first moved here in the 1970s, we had a Department of Fisheries along with a Department of Wildlife. Enforcement officers were assigned to one agency or the other, but they often rendered assistance to their fellow officers downstream or out in the woods.

At some point in the past, I believe the state operated with a single Department of Fish and Game. Then after trying two agencies for a number of years, they merged into one again: the Department of Fish and Wildlife.

This time, we could see a greater shakeup, as Gov. Chris Gregoire has called for a review of all natural resource agencies. That means we would add into the discussion these departments: Ecology, Natural Resources, and Parks and Recreation.

Does it make sense to consolidate agencies for a greater sharing of limited resources or stay with a greater number of agencies to hone the mission of the organization. Does one way result in fewer managers, or do you just trade top-level directors for middle managers?

Would it be better to have law enforcement officers focused on specific duties, or should they all be cross-trained to do the same thing? Should State Patrol officers learn about trees, deer and fish and help out with poachers in the woods — or is this going too far?

I don’t know the answers, but I really am interested in the outcome. The analysis has begun within documents filed on a new Natural Resources Reform Web page linked from the Governor’s Web site. It’s clear there’s much work yet to be done.

As for the number of scientists who need to stand in a stream (see Water Ways, Sept. 3), I guess some people are promoting the notion that one person could collect stream data for all three. Folks at the Puget Sound Partnership have talked about standardizing water-quality data, for example, but this issue is more complex than that.

One thing that caught my attention is the number of programs related to natural resources outside of Fish and Wildlife, Ecology, Natural Resources, and Parks. These programs may be brought into one of the agencies resulting from the reorganization. Here are some of those programs and where they currently reside:

  • Shellfish, drinking water and nuclear waste: Department of Health
  • Growth management: Department of Commerce
  • Comprehensive land-use plans and ordinances: Growth Management Hearings Boards
  • Rates for energy and solid waste collection: Utilities and Transportation Commission
  • Fines and land-use permitting: Environmental Hearings Office — including Pollution Control Hearings Board, Shoreline Hearings Board, Hydraulic Appeals Board, Environmental and Land Use Board and Forest Practices Appeals Board

For those who have an inclination to delve into this issue, there are plenty of things to consider.

Coming next week: ideas to reform state agencies

Reporter Austin Jenkins of KUOW offered a piece this week about a government reform study under way in Washington state, particularly involving three natural resource agencies.

He quoted Gov. Chris Gregoire from her second inaugural address, in which she raised the issue: “We have three agencies managing natural resources, each with its own scientists standing in the same Washington stream. We need to reform and we will.”

When I heard the example of the scientists in the stream, my reaction was not to be alarmed about government inefficiency. Instead, it suggested to me that government officials — even at the highest levels — have no clue about how science works.

I would not be alarmed to see a bunch of scientists from even the same agency standing in that stream at different times. We could have, for example, a bunch of fisheries biologists, each focused on his own discipline — stock identification, population dynamics, pathology, behavior, genetics, not to mention regulatory duties.

We could have something similar for other state agencies, and then there are university scientists and independent researchers, all adding to what we know about that stream. OK, the stream would need to be especially important or interesting to warrant that much attention, but the number of scientists involved from one or more agencies says nothing about the need for government reform.

I have no doubt that Gov. Gregoire knows something about science, having served as director of the Washington Department of Ecology. I suspect that a speech writer working for her simply chose a poor example to make a point.

I’m sure the governor would agree that we don’t need clumsy reform conducted by people who fail to understand science or the inner workings of natural resource agencies. I felt reassured after talking to the governor’s policy director, Robin Arnold-Williams. Reform, she told me, may not mean consolidation of entire agencies.

“There might be realignments or better ways to share and coordinate,” she said. “The governor’s number-one priority is to improve service.”

I could speculate about the ways our natural resource agencies could better coordinate. But I am patient enough to wait until next week. That’s when a committee working on such reforms plans to release a list of ideas for review by the public and everyone involved.

First, comes a full discussion, Arnold-Williams said. After that, the best recommendations will be forwarded to the governor, commissioner of public lands and the Fish and Wildlife Commission, who could well make some significant changes.

Stay tuned. This could be interesting.

Climate bill generates quick and widespread response

Late yesterday, the U.S. House of Representatives passed historic legislation addressing climate change for the first time since the risks of greenhouse gases were identified.

Immediately, my e-mail begin to fill up with comments — mostly from supporters of the legislation but a few from those questioning the process and the downside of so-called cap-and-trade policies.

The LA Times published a straightforward explanation of the key points of the American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009. The Q & A talks about how “cap and trade” would work and the goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 17 percent below 2005 levels by 2020 and more than 80 percent below 2005 levels by 2050.

A more complete description and financial analysis is available from the Congressional Budget Office (PDF 140 kb). The CBO estimates that the average person will see their energy costs rise about $175 a year, a figure that is disputed by conservative opponents.

For years, U.S. Rep. Jay Inslee, D-Bainbridge Island, has been promoting many of the provisions found in this bill, which now goes to the Senate. For that reason, the Kitsap Sun featured Inslee in an interview that ran today. Also today, the Sun ran my story about the “Cash for Clunkers” provision of the bill that was pulled out earlier and pushed ahead for implementation next month.

Following approval of the American Clean Energy and Security bill, Inslee made this statement:

“Since coming to Congress, I have worked to harness America’s innovative genius to create new, clean energy jobs in our state, break our country’s dependence on foreign oil and make this country the world leader in clean energy technologies.

“This bill is a huge victory for Washington state. In the Northwest, neither the melting Cascade snowpack, nor acidifying ocean waters, nor beetle-ravaged North Cascades forests could have waited much longer for us to act. The price of inaction is too high. Thankfully, today, America has begun a New Apollo Project to move the country toward a clean energy future and away from outdated fossil fuels.”

Washington Gov. Chris Gregoire was quick to offer praise:

“This legislation will serve generations to come by promoting clean sources of energy and reducing America’s dependence on foreign oil. It tells the rest of the world that the United States is willing to lead the transition to clean energy and in responding to the global threat of climate change.”

Naturally, with a vote so close (219-212), we need to listen to critics as well. U.S. Rep. Doc Hastings, R-Pasco:

“Congressional Democrats just dealt a devastating blow to America’s already fragile economy. History will show that in the middle of a serious recession, Speaker Pelosi’s number one priority was to pass legislation that taxes Americans and ships their jobs overseas to India and China. If this bill becomes law, jobs will be lost, electricity bills will sky rocket, gas prices will spike, and businesses will close.

“The National Energy Tax bill will now move to the Senate – and I hope my colleagues in the other Chamber will stop this job-killing legislation.”

Please read on for further comments
Continue reading

Climate change issues grab state and national attention

A flurry of activity took place yesterday on climate change issues at both the state and national levels.

That’s not to say anything will change overnight regarding environmental laws, but the problems of global warming are getting serious attention at all levels of government.

Packaging all the information flying out of from state and federal administrations, as well as from Congress, has been difficult for reporters and editors.

I threw some of the new information into a Kitsap Sun story based on a hearing yesterday in Seattle, then I wrote a short item from U.S. Rep. Jay Inslee’s perspective as the U.S. House advances a historic piece of climate legislation.

Let me break down these developments and offer some sources for additional review:

Governor’s executive order and Governors Climate Coalition
I dropped the highlights into my story, thinking that this was the most significant development of the day. Other reporters referred to the order as what she didn’t get from the Legislature.

Read the order itself (PDF 32 kb)
Read a summary on the Department of Ecology’s Web site
Questions and answers from Governor’s Office (PDF 64 kb)
Watch and listen to the governor’s announcement on YouTube.

EPA public hearing

The EPA’s Web site explains the ins and outs of a proposal to find that six greenhouse threaten the public health and welfare and also that four greenhouse gases in automobile emissions contribute to climate change.

Reporter Gary Chittim of King 5 News offers his perspective on the event as well as video from a noon rally outside.

House Committee on Energy and Commerce

A bill capping greenhouse gas emissions has a long way to go, but it made it out of a key committee.

Committee press release on historic action
Bill information

New York Times (John M. Broder)
Grist (Kate Sheppard)
Wall Street Journal (Ian Talley and Stephen Power)

U.S. Rep. Jay Inslee (D-Bainbridge Island) news release

Washington state submits list seeking economic stimulus money

Gov. Chris Gregoire today submitted 52 projects, totaling $101 million, for federal stimulus money to come through the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration for habitat improvement.

NOAA has a total of $170 million to be disbursed nationwide through a competitive process under the American Recovery and Economic Development Act.

“The need for this funding is especially great in Washington state, which is why I have endorsed a large number of grant proposals,” Gregoire said in a press release. “Each of these proposals would create and retain jobs immediately — especially in hard-pressed rural areas — and would provide long-term economic and environmental benefits to the State of Washington.”

Gregoire praised the efforts of the state Recreation and Conservation Office in coordinating the proposals, which were reviewed by the Department of Natural Resources, Governor’s Salmon Recovery Office and Puget Sound Partnership. The projects meet federal stimulus requirements while advancing state plans for habitat and salmon protections.

For a quick list look at projects in the Puget Sound region, continue reading below. For more details with projects in other areas, download the summary table (PDF 63 kb), which includes descriptions and costs.

Continue reading

Salmon grants total nearly $20 million statewide

Washington state’s Salmon Recovery Funding Board on Thursday awarded nearly $20 million for ecosystem restoration projects next year.

I outlined the projects for the Kitsap Peninsula and Hood Canal in a Kitsap Sun story last week.

It’s worth noting that Gov. Chris Gregoire continues to tout the economic benefits of environmental restoration, as well as the benefits to Puget Sound, the Columbia River and other important ecosystems.

“The health of salmon populations is an indication of the health of our environment,” Gregoire said. “These grants will not only help protect and restore our land and water, but many will help stimulate our economy. Some of these grants create jobs with small companies to complete the restoration work. These grants also help keep Washington a place that people want to visit for its natural resources.”

Some observers say Puget Sound restoration will be proposed as part of this state’s economic stimulus package to be funded by the federal government.

For information about how the grants are awarded, check out the news release by the SRF Board. Because the link was not working today, I’ve pasted the information below:
Continue reading