While huge swaths of forests in Montana are burning and an alleged review of our national monuments fizzles to its political end, Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke is spending his time on a Mediterranean vacation. As Aaron Weiss from the Center for Western Priorities reports:
Rather than spending his final week hearing from local communities who have worked tirelessly to protect their natural and cultural heritage as national monuments, Secretary Zinke is on vacation in the Mediterranean. His wife, Lola Zinke, tweeted a picture early this morning of herself and Secretary Zinke enjoying a sunrise on the Bosphorus Strait.
With only seven days remaining in the review, the secretary has failed to visit most of the national monuments on the chopping block. Of the 27 monuments under consideration for elimination, Secretary Zinke has visited and met with stakeholders at only 8 of them. The visits Secretary Zinke has made were marked by controversy, failing to meet key stakeholders and even admitting to a group of veterans in New Mexico that his mind was made up to eliminate national monuments.
Zinke, who has spent the “review process” announcing decisions before the review is complete, riding around on horseback for cameras, and berating activists who have the temerity to ask him to listen to Native people. Even the conservative Washington Times has noted that the process resembles reality TV more than a government review:
Critics argue that such an announcement is a wholly inappropriate way of treating the entire process and one that harks back to President Trump’s history with reality TV, with individual contenders being allowed to stay or being dismissed on an almost weekly basis.
And so a process that somehow necessitated Secretary Zinke going to some monuments but not others, announcing decisions in public and private before reviews had been completed, comes to end with “love on the Bosporus,” but no love for the national monuments so important to all of us in the West or a government process that has standards, public involvement, and real debate.
Heck of a job, Zinke.