Thursday, August 30, 2012

In Lake Tahoe a cry for regulatory relief

California needs to hear the same message about loosening environmental regulations to spur economic growth that Tahoe regulators are beginning to heed.

The blue waters of Lake Tahoe framed the stunning backdrop as the politicians orated. There were some droning Nevadans and three always-interesting Californians: Sen. Dianne Feinstein, U.S. Rep. Tom McClintock and Gov. Jerry Brown.

This was a "save the lake" crowd, heavy on environmental concerns, attending the 16th Annual Lake Tahoe Summit inaugurated in 1997 by President Clinton.

The recent event was basically designed as a pep rally for continued slow growth and environmental regulation.

And you wouldn't guess who drew the most enthusiastic response from these lake lovers: It was that right-wing, regulation-hating McClintock, whose sprawling district includes the California side of the lake.

"Today's theme is private-public partnerships for environmental improvement, but there's not going to be a private sector left unless we get serious about economic improvement," the Republican warned, drawing loud applause from the mostly local crowd of roughly 200.

"Tourists don't go where they're not welcomed, or where facilities are left to decay because simple repairs can't be made, or where prices are inflated to pay for exorbitant [permit] fees...."

"People are fleeing Lake Tahoe," continued the former Southern California state legislator and one-time gubernatorial candidate. "And a lot of them are heading to the Nevada desert.

"With all due respect, no conceivable act of God could turn Lake Tahoe into a less-desirable place for people to live and work and raise a family than the Nevada desert. Only acts of government could do that. And they have."

Again, loud applause and laughter.

The congressman lamented Tahoe's "stagnating economy and a staggering unemployment rate that's hovering around 16%" — roughly twice the national average and much higher than California's overall rate, 10.7%, or Nevada's, 12%.

For Democrats on the dais, McClintock must have been a skunk at the picnic. But for the picnickers, he seemed to be a welcome songbird — and the only pol interrupted by applause.... Read the whole thing...