Showing posts with label McClatchy. Show all posts
Showing posts with label McClatchy. Show all posts

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Leadership gap hinders federal drought response

Looking south, one can see the dried up Guadalupe River near Santa Clara Street in San Jose, Calif., on July 17, 2015.

The federal response to the Western drought has been hindered by high-level vacancies, bureaucratic caution and political calculations that have thrown sand in the gears.
Put another way: With more than 70 percent of California now classified in a state of “exceptional” or “extreme” drought, Uncle Sam is floundering.
“We need leadership from the federal government,” pleaded Cannon Michael, a politically engaged farmer from Los Banos in California’s acutely dry San Joaquin Valley.
But so far, dynamic federal leadership has been lacking. Some of that is inevitable. Western water use poses too many inherent conflicts to unify all factions. Some people refuse to be led, and the drought is, at bottom, a state matter. Certain federal shortcomings, though, seem like self-inflicted wounds. Consider:

– The Obama administration lacks confirmed leaders in key positions. Four top water-related jobs at the Interior Department, the Environmental Protection Agency and the White House Council on Environmental Quality have remained vacant for months, at least in part because of resistance from Senate Republicans.
– Lawmakers remain mired in partisanship and power plays. The Republican-controlled House of Representatives has passed three California water bills, each crafted by the GOP with minimal Democratic input. Republicans counter that Democrats won’t support anything that provides real relief.
– President Barack Obama has not used his bully pulpit to persistently drive a Western water agenda. He has visited California 28 times during his presidency, but his lone trip to the state’s San Joaquin Valley, ground zero for the drought, occurred 18 months ago.
“I think the Obama administration is missing a golden opportunity to provide leadership,” Dan Beard, a Democrat and former Bureau of Reclamation commissioner, said in an interview. “So far, we’ve had nothing but radio silence from them on the drought.”
542,000Acres of California farmland idled because of drought.
Some definite efforts are underway.
Via: McClatchy
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Friday, August 24, 2012

Selling Charlotte: DNC convention business requires millions from taxpayers

The Democratic National Convention will be Charlotte’s most prestigious event, bringing tens of thousands of visitors and worldwide exposure. It’s the crowning achievement of the city’s two-decade quest to become a world-class convention destination.
What’s less known are the tens of millions of dollars in taxpayer money spent to compete in the convention business and the wildly inflated projections of economic impact used to justify the Convention Center’s construction and expansions.
In fact, the city of Charlotte and the Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority have not scrutinized how the Convention Center has performed. Elected officials who oversee it do not understand it.
Yet they have continued to pour money into the convention business, even in the face of a national glut of meeting space and Charlotte’s inability to fill its building.
The Charlotte Convention Center has cost taxpayers as much as $30 million annually for construction debt, operating losses and incentives worth of hundreds of thousands of dollars to win business. The promised payback from the investment hasn’t materialized.
Meanwhile, Charlotte residents pick up much of the tab: Most Convention Center funding comes from a countywide 1 percent tax on restaurant and bar bills – a majority of which is paid by Mecklenburg County residents who dine out.

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