Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Environmental Protection?

The selection of Cawell Holloway as the new DEP commissioner is raising a few eyebrows. As the NY Times reports: "The appointment of Caswell F. Holloway IV, who since 2006 has served as chief of staff to Edward Skyler, a deputy mayor, raised the eyebrows of some policy experts and leaders of good-government groups. They said the move signaled that the mayor was increasingly relying on a tight-knit inner circle at a time when he could benefit from fresh energy and new perspectives."

Well, since we have no idea about who the heck this guy is-revealing the unfortunate nature of our lack of true insider status-we can't really comment on his qualifications. But we say that if he worked with Ed Skylar at the Parks Department, who are we to quibble: "The mayor’s staff described Mr. Holloway as a deft behind-the-scenes problem-solver who pushed through a plan for a citywide waste management system, over the objections of a state lawmaker; oversaw the collection of human remains found at ground zero years after the attack; and drew up plans to revive the unsightly Gowanus Canal...But his selection left some in the environmental world scratching their heads. “Wow,” said Peggy M. Shepard, executive director of We Act for Environmental Justice and a member of the mayor’s Sustainability Advisory Board. “I am not at all familiar with this person.”

Well, we'll see-but it hardly indicates an injection of new blood in this exciting third term, does it? And the real challenge will be to see how Cas can manage an agency that is known for its inept handling of the city's water management system-and a hidebound refusal to entertain the idea of food waste disposers: "After an election that exposed simmering anger over the mayor’s sometimes imperious management style, Mr. Bloomberg had vowed to shake up his staff by injecting new blood into his eight-year-old administration, which is overseen by a handful of loyal aides who followed him from the gleaming headquarters of his company, Bloomberg LP, to City Hall. Yet in announcing his selection of Mr. Holloway, the mayor observed that he “worked a couple of desks away from me.” Said Dick Dadey, executive director of Citizens Union, which monitors city government, “This seems like musical chairs more than genuine change.”

It seems to us that Holloway is an ominous sign of the impending mayoral sclerosis-not that we would criticize his skill, set given the ineptitude that the DEP has demonstrated over the past eight years. It does have, however, a circle the wagons feel to it, doesn't it? Now let's see if DEP will become more adept at building filtration plants, and accurately gauging everyone's water bill. We aren't asking for much, are we?