Obama should fire Ken Salazar
It’s time for him to go.
We’ve seen enough of Ken Salazar.
President Obama should take his Interior secretary with him to the Gulf today and forget to bring him back.
He’s been useless, and never more so than right now. He casts no shadow.
The president has already admitted he screwed the pooch on the spill response. What's one more mea culpa when the entire Gulf region is starting to smell like a gigantic Jiffy Lube?
It's not as if Obama couldn't find a replacement. Arizona Congressman Raul Grijalva immediately comes to mind. How about Sen. Maria Cantwell of Washington, who has fought big oil and has a business background? Pick a Udall--Tom or Mark--both senators and both with a family history of caring for the environment.
Salazar, the former Colorado senator, has already proven he's out of his league. Pressed last month by a Congressional panel about his response to the BP Deepwater Horizon disaster, Salazar responded that he sent a top aide to the region "without a change of underwear."
What a twofer: pitifully lacking in detail AND too much information.
Let’s review his tenure as a member of Obama’s cabinet.
He assumed the post in January 2009, knowing that during six of the last eight years, his department was run by Gale Norton, a political hack who fled to take a cushy job at Shell Oil.
Further, there’s a scathing 2007 report sitting on his desk that says the Minerals Mangement Service office in Denver is "a dysfunctional organization that has been riddled with conflicts of interest, unprofessional behavior and a free-for-all atmosphere" that included some of your employees doing drugs and having sex with the very people they’re supposed to be keeping an eye on.
But instead of taking a blowtorch to the infected parts of the operation, he scooted about the country doing photo opportunities in front of really groovy places run by his National Park Service.
In March 2009, he called the controversy surrounding an 11th-hour Bush administration decision to allow people to carry concealed, loaded guns in national parks a "distraction" to Americans and his department.
The folks who know better--the ones who raise money for parks and former employees--disagreed. The National Parks Conservation Association and the Coalition of National Park Service Retirees filed suit, asking that the no loaded guns policy established under the Reagan administration be restored.
Salazar hired Sylvia Vaca, a former BP executive, to be deputy administrator for land and minerals management.
Meanwhile, the MMS allowed the operators of the BP Deepwater Horizon rig to cut corners.
And even with oil erupting into the Gulf, Salazar's underlings approved other underwater drilling permits.
Last week, the Inspector General issued another MMS report that found employees in Louisiana took tickets to sports events, indulged in free lunches and other gifts from oil and gas companies. Thirteen employees had porn on their government computers and others did drugs.
Salazar called the report, "deeply disturbing."
Really? Is that the best he could do?
The secretary has a plan. He wants to replace MMS with a new bureaucracy to separate the enforcement function from the oil and gas revenue collection operation. In that way, there will be one hand out instead of two.
The name Minerals Management Service would be but a memory. Salazar should be in that category, too.
Cleaning up this mess should start at Interior and with Salazar, who wears a big cowboy hat, but can't talk the talk or walk the walk.