Archive for July 10th, 2008

by jhwygirl

Ever the consummate politician, Governor Schweitzer jumped at the opportunity to generate support for his coal-to-gasification and Otter Creek tract dreams when asked by Mayor Engen to help with affordable housing.

“Put your brains to affordable housing with me,” Engen asked, while touring Brian around town, within sight of the Intermountain Lumber site.

Schweitzer obliged, according to The Missoulian, and and turned to a staffer and asked how the coal tax fund could help.


In another part of the visit, Engen asked the Governor to help stump for some reform with Director Lynch, of the Montana Department of Transportation. Something was mentioned about “red tape”.

Council members have complained about MDOT’s heavy-handed review and approval authority over city projects (dare I say Hill-Beckwith?) and funding methodology. Heavily populated and shopping destination Missoula generates a whole bunch of gas tax revenue, yet doesn’t receive funding proportional to its generation of funds. Engen, surely, was looking for a more equitable solution.

As for cutting through that red tape, I say keep that push on, John – the squeaky wheel gets the oil.

by jhwygirl

….or at least according to the EPA.

The International Herald Tribune (the international edition of the New York Times) reports that the EPA has dropped the value of an average American life by $1 million – from $7.8 million to $6.9 million.

Two cuts have been made – first in 2004 (an 8% cut) and now this past May (an 11% cut).

Why is the government putting a dollar value on a life, you ask? Hell – I always say everything comes down to money. Forget about morals or social responsibility. Every gosh-darn decision comes down to pennies and you won’t get the enough of the masses to give a care about anything until it comes down to the pocketbook – and here’s proof:

When drawing up regulations, government agencies put a value on human life and then weigh the costs versus the lifesaving benefits of a proposed rule. The less a life is worth to the government, the less the need for a regulation, such as tighter restrictions on pollution.

Consider, for example, a hypothetical regulation that costs $18 billion to enforce but will prevent 2,500 deaths. At $7.8 million per person (the old figure), the lifesaving benefits outweigh the costs. But at $6.9 million per person, the rule costs more than the lives it saves, so it may not be adopted

Is it the Bush administration? Dan Esty, director of the Yale Center for Environmental Law and Policy – and, incidentally, a former senior EPA official under the first Bush administration – thinks so: “It’s hard to imagine that it has other than political motivation.”

Granger Morgan, chair of the EPA Science Advisory Board and an engineering and public policy professor at Carnegie Mellon University says that “This sort of number-crunching is basically numerology. This is not a scientific issue.”

You don’t say?

As proof, consider this: In 2002, the EPA decided to drop the value of persons age 70+ by 38%. When that became public, the agency reversed itself.

by Rebecca Schmitz

I know mine was when I spotted this in the Wall Street Journal yesterday:

Former Clinton strategist Mark Penn…is hiring former Bush adviser Karen Hughes…to offer a one-stop crisis-communication and public-affairs shop to corporations caught in front-page headlines or faced with a changing Washington.

Oh, I know that many Republicans and Democrats play nicely together. But the abhorred Penn and the vacuous Hughes using their Washington connections to save corporate malfeasants from bad PR? That’s enough to make me reach for a bottle of Tums.

We’re living in a kleptocracy, indeed.

by Pete Talbot

I often refer readers to Bob Jaffe’s (Ward 3) excellent city government list serve/blog. It gives you the news from city council committees, where most of the work gets done.

Well, Bob is out of town, so Jason Weiner (Ward 1) is doing the writing this week. Jason has more of a conversational style, which I enjoy. Lots of nuggets of info — from parks to planning to budgets.

Jason offers some insights into how the conservative element on council deals with issues when they’re in the majority which, thank god, isn’t often. He also gives an update on the Higgins-Hill-Beckwith roundabout and asks for input from the list serve’s readers. As of this writing, eight respondents are in favor of constructing the roundabout ASAP and two are for postponing.  You have to subscribe to the list serve if you want to view comments.

So, if you’re interested in city government, a subscription is a must.  I wish the county provided the same sort of service.

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