I’ve followed the TRPA for years as a Tahoe basin cabin owner and was always disturbed that it didn’t merit more investigative reporting from the local community newspaper — or even bloggers. (I figure it was an issue of resources and institutional knowledge, two big “rocks” in the newsroom of a small-town paper).
You’ve got enough fodder at TRPA — inaction, conflicting policy-making, infighting, conflicts of interest — to shine a light on one of the Sierra’s most important government agencies.
When I read the headline Monday that “Harvard graduate appointed to Tahoe Regional Planning Age…” in the Sierra Sun, I was forced to click on the article to see what it was about. (Please write shorter headlines for the Web; not ones that end in …).
I was pleased to see a press release that Byron Sher, the retired longtime California legislator, was appointed to the TRPA board.
If you know Sher, flaunting a Harvard law degree is not what he’s about. In a low-key style, he helped create some of the state’s major environmental laws over more than two decades.
I met Sher when I was covering the leveraged buyout of Pacific Lumber for the San Francisco Chronicle in the mid- ’80s. Later, he helped lead an effort to preserve old-growth redwoods that otherwise might have been chopped down under Texas owner Charles Hurwitz.
Hurwitz doubled the timber cut of Pacific Lumber to pay down junk-bond debt — a symbol of the excesses of LBOs in the ’80s.
“Of all the legislators we’ve known over 50 years, we rate Byron right at the top,” Bill Lane of Portola Valley, former publisher of Sunset Magazine, told The Almanac.
As the publication summed up: “Laws bearing his stamp help protect California’s air and waters, reduce garbage going to land fills, encourage recycling, promote renewable energy, and preserve forests. He has also been strong on health and education.”
Sher brings a decidedly environmental bent to the TRPA. I’m OK with that, since I’ve never seen a Lakefront McMansion (and the fees that go with it) that TRPA didn’t like. When you’re sailing on the lake, you can see the glare from the windows.
Sher is from Palo Alto. But unlike around here, the Tahoe basin doesn’t seem to resent “flatlanders” as much. After all, sometimes they bring some experience and talent to the party. Besides, he now lives in El Dorado County.
Sher’s also a deft negotiator — something that is called for in dealing with the cross-fire of politicans and agencies that have their hand in the Tahoe cookie jar.
Lake Tahoe is a national treasure, and the TRPA needs a seasoned and talented leader such as Sher to help protect it.
I hope Sher is profiled in the local media someday soon.
(credit: photo courtesy of smartvoter.org)