Governors, Media Fail Great Lakes
Well, another Great Lakes Day in the nation's capital is in the books. And by most measures the event was a success. With two glaring exceptions:
First, not one Great Lakes governors made it to Washington this past week to join the growing movement of citizens, business leaders, mayors, and Congressional lawmakers in the push for a major investment in Great Lakes restoration. That raises significant questions about the strategy state-level leaders are employing to rebuild the economic and cultural power of the greater Great Lakes region.
The public works project would not only rehab a globally unique aquatic ecosystem. It would also position the region's sinking economy for a return to glory in the 21st century. Still, Pat Quinn, the Lt. Governor of Illinois, was likely the highest ranking state-level official to publicly participate in the proposal's promotion.
Second, the mainstream media coverage of the two-day event, and the reintroduction of federal legislation to launch the Great Lakes cleanup, is bordering on a negligent betrayal of the civic interest. Dave Dempsey, one of the senior statesmen of the region's environmental movement, nails it on the head today when he calls out the Toledo Blade for referring to proponents of Great Lakes restoration as 'vested interests.' "Hadn't realized that clean air and water were vested interests," Dempsey writes. "They seem pretty universal."
Click here to read the Blade coverage.
The Grand Rapids Press took it a step further, running a brief story titled 'Great Lakes Advocates Cry for Help.'
The Battle Creek Enquirer takes a more responsible tact in its op-ed.
These two realities - the governors absence and the media's contempt - mean one thing for restoration supporters: there's a ton of work yet to do to build support for and pass perhaps the most important piece of public policy in the region's history.
[The picture above was taken beside the Buffalo River, in downtown Buffalo, NY]