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Unity and Civility

  This "Let's build a unified movement" is an interesting debate, 
  and gets to the heart of many of our environmental problems.
  Who's job is it to protect the environment? 
  As long as environmental work is viewed 
  only as something to do 9 to 5
  for a paycheck, or to support a family, we're 
  in trouble.    This is part of a broader lack of 
  commitment to community service.   Too many 
  people are focussed only on self-gratification 
  and their own private family --- to hell with 
  everybody else.   This is not a sustainable 
  situation.   It is not survival behavior for a 
  Mr. McClintock wrote:
  "And if this USEPA scientist/manager is underpaid, underrespected,
  overworked, or MAYBE gets crap from various environmental groups
  because he won't jump everytime they have a complaint, he may take a
  serious look at an offer that guarantees his family a lifestyle he
  believes they deserve.  He does not have to sell out at all, he/she can
  just take the perspective that it was like an Army tour of duty - did
  their bit for their country and environment, now it is time to think
  about their family."  
  In my view, environmental work is NOT a tour of 
  duty, or something you do in spite of your 
  family's needs.  (We ALL think we deserve a 
  better life.)  More people (not just reluctant
  or frustrated regulators) need to recognize that many 
  environmental issues are interlinked and reaching 
  critical mass --- overpopulation, deforestation, 
  desertification, climate change, species 
  extinction, toxic accumulation, etc.   NO ONE 
  will escape the snowballing consequences.  Anyone 
  who loves their family should be doing what they 
  can at work, during their "free" time, and at 
  home to counteract these negative trends.   If 
  agency staff leave to work for and help 
  perpetuate pollution or other environmental 
  damage, they ARE selling out.    (I'll concede 
  that some of these people do manage to 
  improve some industry behavior, but would they have 
  been more effective staying as regulators?)
  If some of us are "emotional" about all this, 
  it's because we're in a major crisis and it seems 
  as if everyone is living in denial and doing 
  business as usual.
  I agree with Mr. McClintock that it's not good 
  to repeatedly attack agencies in a generic
  way, but a lot of us have had horrible 
  experiences with MANY individuals within the 
  agencies --- and often we can't get around these 
  individuals to get help.   We often feel that our 
  taxdollars have been used to create a monster 
  that fights alongside industry against us.
  We are forced to call public attention to this problem 
  if we want to solve it.   The GOOD people in the 
  agency should understand this.    If an agency 
  staff person resents this "attack," then I doubt 
  they're on our side.
  Our local group just won a major lawsuit stopping 
  a toxic sludge dump in the waters of Green Bay.   We 
  proved in court that three different agencies 
  (the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, 
  U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and Brown County 
  Harbor Commission) can NOT be trusted to protect 
  water quality.   This case had already been won 
  once before, back in 1988, and they forced us to go through 
  it again.   They threw all kinds of experts and 
  lawyers at us, and these were NOT nice people.
  Local citizens had to fight this project for 13 years, 
  with lots of personal money, and thousands of 
  hours of work.   It's hard to feel gracious toward 
  these agency people.
  (The irony is that now, AFTER IT'S OVER, several 
  agency staff have congratulated us and told us 
  they sympathized with our position.   To my 
  knowledge, none of them contributed a penny or 
  minute of time to helping us.   They simply sat 
  in hiding until the dust settled.)
  Perhaps Mr. McClintock is accustomed to being 
  treated respectfully by agency staff, since he 
  does have technical degrees and considerable 
  experience.   He is also a man.
  A woman or any ordinary citizen without technical degrees
  gets an entirely different reception, especially 
  from arrogant male engineers or credentialed snobs.  
  The put-downs and callousness can be infuriating.   
  I've left many meetings in tears of anger
  and frustration (once I'm safely out of sight.)
  Some agency people need training to improve their 
  social skills so they can respond constructively 
  to citizen frustration and anger.   Much citizen 
  anger is not really directed personally at the 
  staff so much as at the dysfunctional system.    
  Staff need to learn how to cope with being 
  lightening rods and finding ways to help people 
  focus their efforts more effectively.  Instead 
  some staff jump into defensive mode, and this 
  just makes matters worse.   They're supposed to 
  be the professionals --- they should learn to 
  accept normal human reactions to stress.
  The bottom line is that there are abuses on all sides and we 
  all need to work on being civil and not 
  On the other hand, Mr. McClintock needs to 
  recognize there are serious differenceS between citizen 
  and agency abuses.   The agencies have
  the money and power, while citizens are usually 
  helpless and out-gunned.
  Give agency staff a chance to show their good side, 
  but don't excuse the many bad ones who seem only 
  interested in building up their resume at public 
  expense so they can attract a high-paying 
  industry job with the same industries they 
  formerly regulated.
  Rebecca Leighton Katers
  Clean Water Action Council of N.E. Wisconsin
  2220 Deckner Avenue
  Green Bay, WI 54302
  Phone:  414-468-4243
  Fax:  414-468-1234
  E-mail:  cwac@execpc.com