The hardy captain of the clean water fund

Nov. 23, 2013 @ 08:00 AM

North Carolina's Clean Water Management Trust Fund (CWMTF) was created by the General Assembly in 1996.  It has done a lot of good things for our environment.  It buys land for conservation, acquires conservation easements, restores degraded lands, reduces water pollution and many other things.

Richard Rogers worked for the state’s environmental programs since 1994, rising through the ranks and had been director of CWMTF since 2007.

On Nov. 5, Bryan Gossage was appointed director of the Office of Land and Water Stewardship, which includes the clean water fund.  His appointment was not announced to the public.  NC Policy Watch found out about it and reported it Nov. 19.

North Carolina law requires the director to have “experience and training in conservation, protection and management of surface water resources.”

Environmentalists say Gossage does not meet those requirements.  He has a bachelor’s degree in sociology.  He has had bureaucratic jobs in state government which had no connection to surface water resources, and he has had no educational training on environmental issues.

Does this disturb you?  Ah! Don’t worry.  We have assurances from state government that all is well.  Drew Elliot, the Department of Environmental and Natural Resources spokesman, said that Gossage is qualified.  Why?  Why, because Gossage served as town councilman in Apex for six years.  In case you are wondering how being a city councilman qualifies a person to be director of CWMTF, Elliot explained that Gossage was councilman during a drought in 2007 and the town implemented restrictions on the use of drinking water.

Good grief, Charlie Brown!  Elliot’s attempt to justify the appointment caused me to laugh.  But environmentalists do not think it is funny at all. 

Hope Taylor, executive director of the group Clean Water for North Carolina said Gossage’s appointment illustrates a pattern by the McCrory administration of putting people in environmental posts who are either inexperienced or have connections with industrial polluters.

Now I don’t know whether to laugh or cry.  Perhaps Gossage could compose a song about his new job, a revision of Gilbert and Sullivan.  Something like this:

Song By Hardy Captain Gossage:

CAPTAIN GOSSAGE:  I am the Captain of the Clean Water Fund; 

OFFICE PERSONNEL: And a right good captain, too! 

CAPTAIN: You're very, very good, 

                    And be it understood, 

                    I command a right good crew,

 OFFICE: We're very, very good, 

               And be it understood, 

               You command a right good crew. 

CAPTAIN: Though related to a peer, 

                    I can hand, reef, and steer, 

                   And ship a selvagee; 

                   I am never known to quail 

                   At the fury of a gale, 

                   And I'm never, never sick at sea!

OFFICE: What, never?

CAPTAIN: No, never! 

OFFICE: What, never? 

CAPTAIN: Well . . . Hardly ever! 

OFFICE: He's hardly ever sick at sea! 

               Then give three cheers, yes you oughta 

                For the hardy Captain of our clean water!