Newsmakers with JR
LAT: Stoker Refusing to Move for EPA Gig ---- Dale Works Behind the Scenes Against Mike
Those who've wondered what's delaying the Trump Administration from announcing the appointment of Mike Stoker to the powerful post of regional EPA chief got their answer in a just-out, must-read L.A. Times story:
He doesn’t want to leave home.
Erstwhile Indy reporter Kelsey Brugger broke the news several weeks ago that Stoker had been selected to head the EPA’s Region 9 office in San Francisco, overseeing about 700 employees,
Since then, crickets.
Which left everyone in town, especially the multitudes gnashing their teeth over the notion of Stoker – he of the Greka Oil/climate science denying/“Lock Her Up” persuasion – being mentioned in the same sentence as the word “environmental,” unless perhaps it also included “despoiler.”
Now come Tony Barboza and Evan Halper of the LAT Washington bureau to report on what’s been going on behind the scenes, including some delicious political stuff disclosing that ex-city council member Dale Francisco has been trying to torpedo the appointment:
The White House may have finally found someone to take on the stress of overseeing President Trump's fossil fuel-friendly environmental agenda in the heart of hostile territory: California and nearby states.
But there's one glaring problem.
The guy officials have queued up to lead the Environmental Protection Agency's headquarters in San Francisco doesn't want to live anywhere near San Francisco.
That doesn't appear to be stopping the administration from hiring Santa Barbara County GOP stalwart Mike Stoker, a politico well positioned to annoy the powers that be in California…
But Stoker's refusal to work in the liberal City by the Bay has put the administration in a pickle.
Instead he wants to oversee the 700 or so enforcement officers, scientists, researchers and others guiding environmental protection in California and nearby states from a small, sparsely staffed Los Angeles satellite office...
Environmental groups joined (Senator Dianne) Feinstein in expressing bewilderment that the region chief may keep living in Carpenteria (sic - ed), which is hours from even the Los Angeles office.
Newsmakers never sleep. Among other surprises sprung by Barboza and Halper: Francisco, the former city council member (and, full disclosure, regular “Newmakers TV” panelist) has been lobbying behind the scenes to block Stoker’s appointment, arguing that the guy simply has no relevant experience for the job.
They also touch on the whole civic soap opera that led to a meltdown within the local GOP a few years back:
Francisco said in an interview that Stoker has never managed a major organization.
"You can be the world's most wonderful guy, but without any management experience, you should not be managing as large an organization as EPA Region 9. Period," Francisco said in an interview. "How is he going to manage this agency in a state where elected leadership is utterly opposed to Trump and get anything done?"
Other Republicans attributed Francisco's attacks to bitterness over Stoker's role advising the local GOP party in its dispute with Francisco's girlfriend, who was fired as the party's executive director. The woman brought her complaints of discrimination and retaliation to state labor investigators, who declined to take any action.
Bottom line: Newsmakers reached out to both Stoker and Francisco for his take on the piece. No word from Mike, who's uncharacteristically kept a zipped lip since the EPA news became public.
Dale, after we asked if there was anything inaccurate in the piece, texted this response.
"Stoker many times has shown extraordinarily poor judgment. The quote is accurate, but incomplete."
You can find the L.A. Times piece here.