Public Speaker on Public Issues




Thousands of miles separate these two entities, and yet they are very close in a significant, but uncomfortable way. They both reflect an unspoken willingness to do next to nothing about the warning signs of pending disaster until they reach catastrophic proportions.  

These types of ‘big stake and high consequence’ scenarios have begun to play themselves out both nationally and globally. They all share different combinations of ‘lost leadership and lost courage’ from individual, organizational and political arenas.  

Pointing the finger is not what this and subsequent articles are about. They seek to reawaken a deeper civic maturity with which to seriously examine wherein lays the root problem(s) and to encourage the exercise of individual, organizational and political leadership and courage from within to begin to correct these problems.  

Hour after hour, day after day for the past several months we have been learning about and living the effects of greed, incompetence and dishonesty within the financial engine we know as Wall Street.  

It’s an ongoing heartache and outrage to realize that fellow Americans would do this to one another. We had a right to expect that, as we lived by the rules and were attempting to build our lives and secure strong futures for our young ones, that the sidebars of ethics would reasonably protect both our ‘nest eggs’ and ourfaith in the system. Wrong on both counts.  

After all, our government had put regulatory and oversight mechanisms into place such as the Securities and Exchange Commission, Federal Reserve, congressional oversight banking committees, Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, etc. etc..  

When the warnings from within and without about questionable and increasingly marginalized business practices were brought to the attention of those at the helm why were they not taken seriously enough? What combination of incompetence, political correctness, avoidance and denial, financial and political greed, fear, and intimidation rendered this protective infrastructure so incredibly impotent that it failed this nation and its people?  

I submit that it was a long standing and quietly increasing lack of both leadershipand courage to stand and defend at all costs the interests and trust of the citizens these organizations were established to protect.  

The ‘who did and didn’t do what’ rhetoric is about the surface result/manifestation of the underlying problem of both leadership and courage lost along the trail.  

A similar trail has also led us to the destructive situation relative to wild horses and burros on our public lands.

This disaster, and it is a disaster, is being further worsened by the closure of slaughter plants in the United States and the abandonment of horses and burros onto already stressed Bureau of Land Management (BLM) lands.  

As recently as the summer of 2008 and as agency (taxpayer) costs and capacity to manage these animals had skyrocketed out of control and rangeland damage had increased, the BLM’s top decision makers chose to not do what was best for the both the animals and the public’s range resources. They chose to not exercise the legally established management tool of euthanizing some of the animals so that the health of both a reasonable number of animals and that of the range resources could begin to come back into balance.  

Courage and leadership to manage a sensitive problem by using this last resort legal tool was lacking on the part of upper management. When we, the American people and the resources they love, needed you most where were you? You are paid and you are expected to demonstrate a capacity to articulate the necessity, appropriateness, and timeliness of such a measure.  

The informed public has known and long appreciated the difficulties with which the agency has been dealing in terms of funding and restrictive legal management options.  

However, with the pretense of now reconsidering whether euthanizing is a ‘needed now’ option you abuse both our reasonableness and the animal and range resources. They should come first, not the comfort zone of ‘postponement and avoidance’ at their expense. Courage and leadership should guide and sustain both the comfortable and uncomfortable decisions.  

We don’t need more legislation or political discourse. We need our Bureau of Land Management to protect both the American people and its resources from the destructiveness of self serving political winds and the unreasonable agendas which refuse to share and genuinely steward the public landscape.  

Tag Line: Kathleen Jachowski is a public speaker and free lance writer on natural resources and cultural issues. She also serves as Executive Director of the Guardians of the Range. Opinions expressed are here own. She can be reached at: Copyright: 2009 Article may be reprinted with acknowledgement of authorship.

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