Friday was a good day for Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval.
During a meeting of the Western Governors' Association in Las Vegas, Sandoval met on the sidelines with Interior Secretary Sally Jewell. The subject: A list of concerns over efforts to protect the sage grouse, a chicken-size, ground-dwelling bird with habitat across the West.
Long story short: By the end of the day, Sandoval had resolved or received commitments to resolve every single issue on his list. The governor looked on as Jewell outlined the agreement to assembled reporters, and not a discouraging word was heard.
"We will be reasonable, flexible and work with the states," Jewell promised, adding later, "We're continuing to execute on our plans, we're continuing to be open to work with all governors from all states."
"We know this is the right thing," she summed.
First, a disagreement over which maps to use in sage grouse planning was resolved, and the Interior Department will use new maps that will, for example, allow Washoe County to proceed with a school project and a veterans cemetery under the normal development process.
Second, the Interior Department will immediately allow a pilot project recognizing Nevada's conservation credit system, which provides some flexibility in dealing with protecting sage grouse habitat.
Third, Jewell agreed to work with the state on existing mineral rights. And fourth, she agreed to resolve by early next year a dispute over the construction of a replacement water tank in the town of Baker, Nev. The town needs the tank for drinking water and fire protection.
The column continues:
Contrast the Sandoval Approach with the alternative pursued by Attorney General Adam Laxalt, who joined a lawsuit filed by several Nevada counties to attack some of the policies put in place...
Where Sandoval calmly but firmly pressed Nevada's case in a face-to-face meeting with Jewell, Laxalt went to court. While the governor tried to understand and appreciate the entire dimension of the problem and its complex solution, Laxalt insisted the situation required litigation.
What a set up. Notice the lawsuit is an "attack" rather than a defense.
Sandoval "calmly" pressed his case. So that makes the Laxalt/counties approach the opposite? In other words "turbulent", "angry" or "agitated"? Nice try Sebelius, but I don't buy it. Defending your property or other rights in court doesn't divorce one from civility.
Then comes the old reliable "complex" obfuscation. Sandoval appreciates the "entire dimension" of a "complex" issue, inferring that Laxalt by comparison is narrow-minded and simply doesn't understand the totality of the problem/solution. What bunk. Interior either has the authority to issue these decisions and they did so in a legally correct fashion, or they went beyond their authority or their procedure was legally deficient. What's so complex about that?
And while Sandoval got quick and immediate results, Laxalt's approach will take much longer to resolve, with much less certain results.
Sandoval got a meeting and words. It will be "much longer" before we know the results, so until there is implementation on the ground, these words are as uncertain as any lawsuit.
Criticize Laxalt if you wish, but don't push these straw men on us to make your case.
Personally, I thank Laxalt for attempting to defend our rights NOW, rather than AFTER they've been abridged.
Truth be told, Sandoval benefited from Laxalt's actions. Interior was much more willing to meet and compromise when facing a potential court appearance. Sandoval and Sebelius should be "calmly" thanking Laxalt for his lawsuit and recognize his contribution to their sought after administrative remedies.