Secretary Zinke Takes A Vacation While Montana Burns and Monuments Are At Risk

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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.

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About the author

Don Pogreba

Don Pogreba is an eighteen-year teacher of English, former debate coach, and loyal, if often sad, fan of the San Diego Padres and Portland Timbers. He spends far too many hours of his life working at school and on his small business, Big Sky Debate.

His work has appeared in Politico and Rewire.

In the past few years, travel has become a priority, whether it's a road trip to some little town in Montana or a museum of culture in Ísafjörður, Iceland.

22 Comments

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  • A real Secretary of the Interior might be touring the West, particularly Montana, assessing the wildfires that are consuming thousands of acres of public lands.

  • And making sure Fed dollars will flow to cover the over $100 million tab we have already for fire fighting costs.

  • I gotta chime in here and ask a question…

    You do realize that Zinke isn’t a politician anymore, right?

    And that he couldn’t care less about partisan attacks?

    • You could be right, Eric. He also doesn’t seem to care about the public lands he’s in charge of, his tribal responsibilities, national parks and monuments, or the Earth’s climate.
      Like his boss, he just cares about himself.

    • You do realize that he’s almost certain a politician still, right? Only an absolute fool would believe anything else.

      There’s nothing partisan about pointing out that he has absolutely failed to protect public lands or that he is more interested in taking a vacation than in doing the job he created for himself.

      • So Pogie, you are under the impression Zinke has to worry about campaigning? Truly?

        The Donald put him in there to undo a lot of Federal overreaching, and thus far is carrying out the Presidents agenda, which, by the way, Montanans overwhelmingly voted for.

        • Yes, because he will almost certainly run for office again.

          And Zinke must have really upset that vast majority of Montanans when he didn’t shrink the Upper Breaks, then. Or, as usual, you’re wrong.

          • I’m wrong Pogie?

            I’m afraid that for the last decade or so, if you look at the election results the result is that you have been consistently wrong, or silent, and I’ve been correct.

            I dared you to bet blogging on a Hillary victory and you wouldn’t take the bait because you knew she was a loser too.

            And Pete, until the Dems figure out who their constituency is they will keep losing.

            The just made Mary Sexton their Chairman, a Schweitzer crony who was in the middle of selling out the Montana Dems to Hillary before the primary, indicating they have learned nothing.

            • Remind me who has held the governor’s chair for the last four terms, Eric.

              And who ended the political careers of Senator Burns and Congressman Rehberg.

              Politics are cyclical and cynical. Your party has found some recent success by aligning itself with the Know-Nothing, white supremacist fringe, but I don’t believe that will endure.

              Care to make a bet on whether or not Trump is President for his entire appointed term? I’d take that bet. Would you?

              • The Donald will of course fill out his term, and the four years after that as well – for many good reasons, first because the Dems are incapable of learning, and will probably run Michelle Obama or Elizabeth Warren against him, and second, because no legitimate candidate will want to run against him. He’s a nasty counterpuncher, and doesn’t hold back anything.

          • And, as always, you avoid the substance of the debate. Let’s try again.

            Premise 1: You believe Montanans overwhelmingly support the Trump/Zinke plan to reduce federal oversight of lands.

            Premise 2: Zinke did not roll back the Upper Missouri Breaks, an example of federal oversight over Montana land.

            Conclusion: Zinke let down Montana conservatives.

            Am I missing something or are you just cheerleading Zinke no matter how inconsistent his position is?

        • Sure wish we could hold that election today, Eric; there would be a different outcome. Both Trump and Zinke have been a disaster and consistently lie to their constituency. And as I mentioned at the top of these comments: Montana burns while Zinke plays in the Mediterranean.

  • I’m probably already familiar with the book, but sure.

    And in 2024, while we are busy electing my guy, Ted Cruz, things will be so good in America I’ll probably see both of you on Republican Central Committees, making Montana great again, and helping Gov Fox repair the damage done by Gov BS!

  • The thought of you not sharing your very important blog posts with the world makes me very, very sad. I’m distraught at the thought that I may never see Ryan Zinke depicted as the cowardly lion ever again. Please rescind this risky bet, the world needs brave bloggers like you, Don, speaking truth to power. Without you all is lost.

    • I, on the other hand, am over-the-top excited about Skink’s “own fictional narrative” which he is “constructing” and hopes to “start sharing soon” — timely posts on the occult and conspiracy culture. We await these weighty dispatches with bated breath.

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