Some of you may remember a while back I posted that to reduce political drama, the Admin could pick an experienced, respected (and possible diverse in desirable categories) career person for BLM Director and sail through confirmation hearings. Well, I collected submitted names of specific people, hence this open letter.
Dear Secretary Haaland,
People are talking about your promised “early summer” oil and gas leasing review being held up due to concerns about the nomination hearings for Tracy Stone-Manning. Others have heard that some political horse-trading is going on with Republicans in exchange for their support on the nomination.
For the sake of our public lands and the employees, for the workers in the oil and gas industry, and for the people of the States like your native New Mexico, I ask that you select a different person for BLM Director. This will both expedite getting the review out and directly moving forward with Administration goals for our federal lands. When you recently visited my home state, Colorado, you expressed concern for BLM employees; Colorado Politics quoted you as saying “My first priority is to avoid doing any more harm to the BLM’s dedicated employees. We owe them that.”
As a former federal employee, I am less concerned with Ms. Stone-Manning’s ideologies of the past and more concerned with her ethics of the present. Specifically, my concerns are her recent statement to Congress on whether she had ever been investigated, and possible ethics violations on a loan to her during her time on a Senate staff. Making misstatements to Congress, and not checking carefully on ethics rules, are not the kinds of actions I’d like to see in an agency Director. It doesn’t build confidence among stakeholders nor employees.
Instead, I suggest taking a page out of the Forest Service book and immediately nominating a seasoned and respected career natural resource professional as Director. At the Forest Service, a transition just quietly occurred in the midst of a global pandemic and yet another catastrophic summer of wildfire. There were absolutely no internal or external ripples; it was a quiet handoff from one seasoned and admired career Chief to another. It was also a first in terms of diversity; Chief Moore is the first Black Forest Service Chief.
There are several high-quality career candidates in the wings who could be nominated as BLM Director and would be likely to be immediately approved. The below potential nominees are only a small sample of people who are out there. While I do not know their diversity status, it is likely that some could also add to the diversity of your leadership team. I know that that is an important consideration for the Biden Administration.
All four of these candidates came up through the field ranks in both the BLM and Forest Service, are successful and respected leaders, and have Washington, D.C. headquarters experience. All but one served in Congressional Fellow assignments on Capitol Hill. All four have extensive wildfire and landscape restoration experience, across the diverse states with large BLM presence and programs. Without a professional background check, as you are able to do, I can’t be sure, but as far as I can tell they are ethically spotless.
1. Kristin Bail, Former BLM Assistant Director and current Forest Supervisor of the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest. Her educational background is in hydrology.
2, Jerry Perez, former BLM State Director in Oregon and California. Currently Forest Supervisor on the Angeles National Forest. Jerry has a B.S. in Forestry and a Law Degree.
3. Jose Linares, recently retired and served as acting Oregon/Washington BLM State Director and Siuslaw National Forest Supervisor. Jose’s educational background is in Forest engineering.
4. Jon Raby, current Nevada State BLM Director and former Montana State Director. He is a fish and wildlife biologist by training.
Secretary Haaland, please consider a pathway to bipartisan peace and goodwill, support for your employees, conservation of political capital, and the real ability to hit the ground running for your Administration goals by nominating a career professional for BLM Director!
Editor, The Smokey Wire
Forest Service Retiree
TSW readers: if you agree with this point of view, I also have an “op-ed” form of the same ideas without the specific names, but it’s available to you as background for any you might write for your own op-eds. Just email me for a copy.. it’s in submission right now.