September 16, 2014

A national monument in Waco? And why does Bill Flores play games with it?

Columbian Mammoth at Waco Mammoth Site. Photo by
Larry D. Moore at Wikipedia page.
Waco, Texas, red-stateish, but not quite as red-state as you think (a majority of county commissioners in McLennan County, as well as the Waco City Council, asked Rick Perry to do the Medicaid expansion part of Obamacare; the county as a whole went 64-34 Romney in 2012), is now turning to the federal executive department for other help.

Waco civic leaders, having repeatedly asked Congress for action and gotten nowhere, are asking President Obama to use his Antiquities Act powers and make the Waco Mammoth Site a National Park Service system National Monument.

First, the previous history:
Congress in 2001 ordered the National Park Service to study the site’s suitability for the national park system. In 2007, the agency reported that the site met all criteria for inclusion. 
A bill sponsored by then-U.S. Rep. Chet Edwards, D-Waco, to add the site to the national park system passed the U.S. House in late 2010 but died in the Senate. A bill by Edwards’ successor, Rep. Bill Flores, R-Bryan, passed the House in 2012 but never came up for a vote in the Senate. 
Flores’ bill stipulated that the mammoth site would be added to the system but without federal funding. The National Parks Conservation Association at the time decried the bill, saying it set a bad precedent and would prevent the National Park Service from exercising its necessary oversight.

Bill Flores
Gee, shock me that Flores would stipulate that.

That said, knowing how much of a tea partier Flores is, this doesn't surprise me. (Unfortunately, his only opposition is a Libertarian on a shoestring budget and a Democrat who doesn't even have a website.)

Meanwhile, Flores doubled down on the dishonest:

In an interview Monday, Flores said his legislation wouldn’t have prohibited the National Park Service from exercising routine oversight or promoting the site.
“I think that’s a straw horse,” he said. “The folks in the Senate want parks to be totally federally funded so the federal government has complete control.”
 I don't think that's a straw man at all. The National Park Service, as part of its federal dollars, creates websites, creates brochures, and does other marketing and informational work. "Without federal funding" would include "without (THAT) federal funding." 

Gloria Young, treasurer of the Waco Mammoth Foundation, calls him out on it, too:
“Major funding at this time is not required, and that’s the point we’ve tried to make to Washington,” she said. “What killed us is that they put in a phrase that no funding ever could take place. How can we agree to no funding ever? We don’t know what’s in the future. If we make a phone call to the National Park Service to ask a question, or if they should check to make sure it’s maintained as it should, that’s an expenditure.” 

Beyond that, Rep. Flores, there's this thing called the Interwebz. It has your bill online. Including this:
(d) Prohibition of Use of Federal Funds.--No Federal funds may be  used to pay the costs of--     
(1) carrying out a cooperative agreement under subsection (b)(1);     
(2) acquiring land for inclusion in the Monument under subsection (b)(2);    
(3) developing a visitor center for the Monument;     
(4) operating or maintaining the Monument;     
(5) constructing exhibits for the Monument; or     
(6) developing the general management plan under subsection (c).
I presume that Subpoint (10) would rule out even an NPS system website or the trifold brochures. If you had wanted any of that excepted from the prohibition of federal funds, you could have said so.

It was, after all, your bill.

And, it had other faults, like barring the creation of a buffer zone, barring the use of federal money for land acquisition and other things. At just 100 acres, it's possible that more mammoths, or remains of other life from the same era, might be preserved outside its current boundaries.

And, that all means tourism, and tourism $$$. That's something the allegedly capitalistic tea partiers always overlook in their anti-environmental type hate. People spend money on tourism. And, rough estimates are that each dollar of tourism spending has a $1.50 multiplier. That's not trickle-down, but trickle-through, economics.)

However, many of the red-state portion of Waco and McLennan County will continue to vote for Flores even as he continues to work against their best interests. The "good people" of West will vote for Greg Abbott, similarly, even as he supports not letting people in their situation readily find out how safe, or unsafe, fertilizer plants in their back yards are. Or worse, since the ilk of these West-haters are the likes of people who cut Abbott big campaign checks.

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