Sunday, February 13, 2011

Money, Politics and Us

A friend of mine posted a statement on his Facebook page a few weeks ago. John works for the Nature Conservancy and always has an interesting take on the days events, but this one really caught my eye:

A century of conservation

1911: "Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul." John Muir 

2011: " I'm going to need you to change the subcenter for your time to a match code, email me when you are finished and then doodle me for a meeting time to discuss a time to meet about the times we meet and time of meetings" John Heaston

A lot of people think working at a Nature Center involves walking the trail each morning and surrounding ones self with incredible beauty each day at work. Well we certainly do that from time to time, but the majority of the time we spend doing things not much different that any other office job. Conservation and education have to live in the present and the present way of doing things involves money. We live within that paradigm. John pointed that out all too well in the aforementioned quote.

Hit the jump to read on...

One of the major funders of the Nebraska Nature & Visitor Center is the Nebraska Environmental Trust. The Trust was established by a vote of the people in 1992. The Trust has functioned well distributing its share of the Nebraska Lottery proceeds over the years.

I decided to travel to Lincoln a few weeks ago to sit in on a legislative hearing for bill 229. I’ve sat in on county board meetings and even have done some things in Washington D.C., but this was my first foray into state level politics.

This was a public hearing of the state's Natural Resources Committee. Much of the meeting was, as you might imagine, conducted with the pleasantries and rules of order being followed. As I sat there, I watched person after person testify both for and against the proposal realizing that this is the way so many things get done. Politics. It’s not always the best idea that rises to the top, many times it is the best idea that someone thinks that can get through with the cooperation of this senator or that group. It can be frustrating or exciting depending on how you view the process.

I did testify in front of the committee as opposed to the bill. I found myself a bit frustrated because the bill appeared to pit like-minded organizations against each other. The projects that would benefit from the funding are generally good projects. I felt this was the wrong way to get them paid for. This was my own opinion, not an official position of the Nature Center.

What can you do? By all means contact your state senator and let them know your thoughts regarding the bill.

The bill is currently in committee and stands a good chance of going to the full legislative floor for debate. Issues such as this will come and go. I realize that people need to pick and choose what things they are willing to speak out for or against.

I'll try to keep readers posted regarding the progression of this bill and who knows, perhaps we will bump into each other in the halls of Nebraska's Unicameral.

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