Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Coordination and the feds who despise it

Interesting story making the rounds this week by John Miller of the Associated Press focusing on Fred Kelly Grant, the Idaho attorney and past "We The People" radio program guest who advocates local governments using a process called coordination to have a say in federal rulemaking.

The story (remarkably well-written and evenhanded, by AP's standards) focuses largely on Siskiyou County, where Grant has been retained to try to stop the Klamath dam removal project. A sampling:

Almost nowhere has Grant's message resonated more deeply than in California's Siskiyou County, in 14,179-foot Mt. Shasta's shadow. "Coordination" became a catch phrase in the battle over whether four Klamath River dams should be dynamited to help endangered salmon.

Craig Tucker, a spokesman for the Karuk Indian Tribe that favors dam removal, first heard the word after Grant gave a seminar in nearby Redding in 2009 attended by dam-removal foes.

"Now, when those guys open their mouths, the first thing they start talking about is coordination," Tucker said. "It seems to me Fred Kelly Grant has sold people a bill of goods that amounts to snake oil."

Jim Cook, a Siskiyou commissioner who attended Grant's Redding seminar, said Tucker and federal managers dismiss coordination at their own peril.

Maybe it's not a silver bullet, "but you do make them explain why they do things," Cook said. "That makes the agencies squirm. It asks, 'Can you come in front of a judge and explain why you blew this policy off?' "

My takeaway: People like Cook and Siskiyou Supervisor Marcia Armstrong have a valid point when they warn that coordination isn't a silver bullet. But observing how federal officials respond when it's invoked can provide some insight into the disdain with which many of them view locals.

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