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U.S. Representative Kilmer – Champion of Nature?

by Pearl Rains Hewett
Behind by Back.org

Posted 10/21/2015

 Rep Derek Kilmer Champion of Nature?”

Experts are often fallible, so expert advice should be examined carefully

Published 16 October 2015

snippets

“Experts must be tested, their biases minimized, their accuracy improved, and their estimates validated with independent evidence. Put simply, experts should be held accountable for their opinions.”

While many governments aspire to evidence-based policy, the researchers say the evidence on experts themselves actually shows that they are highly susceptible to “subjective influences” — from individual values and mood, to WHETHER THEY STAND TO GAIN OR LOSE FROM A DECISION — and, while highly credible, experts often vastly overestimate their objectivity and the reliability of peers.

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Fallible by definition: adjective. (of persons) liable to err, especially in being deceived or mistaken. 2. liable to be erroneous or false; not accurate: fallible information.

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WOW…. A worldwide non-profit tax-exempt 501(c)(3) experts?

Conservancy names Rep. Derek Kilmer ‘Champion of Nature’

 

The Nature Conservancy is governed as a single, tax-exempt 501(c)(3) organization by a worldwide, volunteer Board of Directors and is managed from its worldwide office in Arlington, Virginia USA. Because the Conservancy is organized as a single organization rather than as separate local legal entities, ultimate responsibility for the operation of The Nature Conservancy lies with its Board of Directors. Although the Board of Directors cannot delegate its broad legal and fiduciary responsibilities, it does delegate responsibility for day-to-day operations to the president and chief executive officer, who in turn delegates responsibilities to his or her executive team.

Puget Sound Partnership and the 2020 Action Agenda


Learn more about the
2020 Action Agenda

Under Governor Chris Gregoire’s leadership, the 2007 Washington Legislature took a giant step forward to implement Washington’s strategy to restore Puget Sound to a healthier condition by 2020. The measures also were designed to maintain and expand the $20 billion of economic and recreational activities in Washington that depend on the Sound.

The Puget Sound Partnership was created to lead and coordinate Puget Sound recovery efforts. In December 2008, the Partnership released its first Puget Sound Action Agenda which outlined the immediate and long-term actions necessary to restore and protect Puget Sound.

Related Links:

 

“Everyone was scratching everyone’s back with this PUGET SOUND PARTNERSHIP,” said Republican state Sen. Mark Schoesler, who has been a vocal critic of the partnership. “They were banking on daddy Dicks to bring money home, and then his son squandered it.

”PUGET SOUND PARTNERSHIP” May 2010
In May 2010, auditors found the partnership “circumvented state contracting laws, exceeded its purchasing authority and made unallowable purchases with public funds,” incurring “costs without clear public benefit.”

 

www.peninsuladailynews.com/article/…/31018998...

http://www.peninsuladailynews.com/article/20151018/news/310189984/conservancy-names-rep-derek-kilmer-8216-champion-of-nature-8217

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The Bad News On Kilmer

Posted on August 31, 2013 1:19 pm by Pearl Rains Hewett Comment

  1. Reps Kilmer and Heck promise to continue the work of Norm Dicks on behalf of wetlands, shorelines
    By ROB CARSON — Staff writer Published: August 22, 2013

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Behind My Back | Kilmer on Stop School Shootings

www.behindmyback.org/2015/10/16/kilmer-on-stop-schoolshootings/

2 days ago – www.behindmyback.org/2015/10/14/stop–schoolshootings/. 2 days ago – The … Kilmer’s response on Stop School Shootings (full text below)

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complete text

Conservancy names Rep. Derek Kilmer ‘Champion of Nature’

www.peninsuladailynews.com/article/…/31018998...

Peninsula Daily News

8 hours ago – WASHINGTON — The Nature Conservancy in Washington state has given U.S. RepDerek Kilmer its “Champion of Nature” award.

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Conservancy names Rep. Derek Kilmer ‘Champion of Nature’

 

U.S. Rep. Derek Kilmer

Peninsula Daily News

“Representative Kilmer clearly understands the benefits of clean water and Puget Sound recovery to Washington’s communities and families,” Stevens said in a news release.

“We are grateful for his leadership to introduce the Promoting United Government Efforts to Save Our Sound Act last month, which will protect tribal treaty rights and bring much-needed resources to restore the Sound.”

The act was introduced by Reps. Derek Kilmer and Denny Heck, D-Olympia, in September to designate Puget Sound as a water body of national significance, require that adequate federal resources are allocated to Puget Sound recovery and coordinate and align federal agency efforts with the state-led efforts under the Puget Sound Action Agenda.

“It’s an honor to receive this award from The Nature Conservancy,” Kilmer said in the release.

“Generations have enjoyed the ability to swim, fish and dig for clams in the iconic waters of the Puget Sound. I’m proud to partner with The Nature Conservancy to protect this legacy.”

In the Capitol Hill meetings, representatives of Conservancy asked members of Congress to renew and fully fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund, which had funded public land projects for 50 years.

Kilmer is a co-sponsor of a bill that would permanently reauthorize the act.

Members of the conservancy also urged sustainable funding for conservation programs.

Last modified: October 17. 2015 5:20PM

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full text

The Bad News On Kilmer

Posted on August 31, 2013 1:19 pm by Pearl Rains Hewett Comment

  1. Reps Kilmer and Heck promise to continue the work of Norm Dicks on behalf of wetlands, shorelines
    By ROB CARSON — Staff writer Published: August 22, 2013
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    A CAUTIONARY NOTE TO DEREK KILMER ON NORM DICKS HISTORY

A MAN MAY BE KNOWN BY THE COMPANY HE KEEPS
WHAT DEREK KILMER DOES NOT KNOW ABOUT NORM DICKS COULD HURT HIM.

Scandals surrounding Norm Dicks are long, and deep. … of records and files pertaining to the FBI investigation of Congressman Norm Dicks.
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REPORTED August 22, 2013 ANOTHER GOLIATH’S CONSORTIUM

During more than two hours of TESTIMONY Tuesday, the heads of federal and state environmental agencies and Indian tribes?
Several who TESTIFIED said MORE MONEY needs to be allocated for scientific monitoring. GETTING MONEY FOR RESTORATION projects HAS BEEN RELATIVELY EASY LATELY, they said, but finding money for monitoring results has been nearly impossible.

TESTIMONY BY Bill Ruckelshaus, August 22, 2013
“It’s not like putting out a fire,” said Bill Ruckelshaus,
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GETTING EASY RESTORATION MONEY INDEED,
AS EASY THE EPA FEDERALLY MANDATED UNFUNDED $14.8 BILLION DOLLAR RAIN TAX IN MARYLAND TO CLEAN-UP CHESAPEAKE BAY?

HOW MUCH EASIER COULD IT BE TO GET RESTORATION FUNDING? THEN A FEDERALLY APPOINTED EPA EDICT?
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A NECESSARY COMMENT
DEREK’S COMMENT “CORPORATION’S ARE NOT PEOPLE”
GOLIATH CONSORTIUM’S (the heads of federal and state environmental agencies and Indian tribes) ARE NOT PEOPLE.

The heads of federal and state environmental agencies ARE PUBLIC SERVANTS – someone who holds a government position (either by election or appointment)

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A CAUTIONARY NOTE TO DEREK KILMER ON NORM DICKS HISTORY

REP. NORM DICKS, DAVID DICKS AND WILLIAM RUCKELSHAUS

PUGET SOUND PARTNERSHIP 2007-2010

January 2007, Rep. Norm Dicks (D-Wash.) became chairman of a congressional subcommittee that gave him the power to secure millions in federal funds to environmental projects in his district.

August 2007, DAVID DICKS (Son of Rep. Norm Dicks) was appointed by Washington Gov. Chris Gregoire. as executive director for a newly created state agency, the Puget Sound Partnership.

May 7, 2008, Gov. Chris Gregoire named Bill Ruckelshaus the first chair OF THE PUGET SOUND PARTNERSHIP
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“Everyone was scratching everyone’s back with this PUGET SOUND PARTNERSHIP,” said Republican state Sen. Mark Schoesler, who has been a vocal critic of the partnership. “They were banking on daddy Dicks to bring money home, and then his son squandered it.

”PUGET SOUND PARTNERSHIP” May 2010
In May 2010, auditors found the partnership “circumvented state contracting laws, exceeded its purchasing authority and made unallowable purchases with public funds,” incurring “costs without clear public benefit.”

Jul 30, 2010 – William Ruckelshaus resigned from the Puget Sound Partnership.

November 2010, David Dicks resigned from the Puget Sound Partnership.

Mar 12, 2012 House Dem Norm Dicks Steps Aside After FOIA Revelations – Scandals surrounding Norm Dicks are long, and deep. … of records and files pertaining to the FBI investigation of Congressman Norm Dicks.
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TESTIMONY BY Bill Ruckelshaus, August 22, 2013
“It’s not like putting out a fire,” said Bill Ruckelshaus,

WHO IS Bill Ruckelshaus?

A former administrator of the EPA and FIRST chair of the PUGET SOUND PARTNERSHIP Leadership Council
FROM May 7, 2008 UNTIL HIS RESIGNATION Jul 30, 2010.

HOW DID WILLIAM RUCKELSHAUS THE FIRST CHAIR OF THE ”PUGET SOUND PARTNERSHIP” AVOID BEING NAMED IN THE REP. NORM DICKS AND DAVID DICKS SCANDAL AND IRS INVESTIGATION?

WHAT INVOLVEMENT DID Bill Ruckelshaus HAVE IN THE ”PUGET SOUND PARTNERSHIP” REP. NORM DICKS AND DAVID DICKS SCANDAL AND INVESTIGATION?

In May 2010, auditors found the PUGET SOUND PARTNERSHIP “circumvented state contracting laws, exceeded its purchasing authority and made unallowable purchases with public funds,” incurring “costs without clear public benefit.”

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WHO IS Bill Ruckelshaus?

PUGET SOUND PARTNERSHIP: Jul 30, 2010
Ruckelshaus passes the torch – Strange …
blog.seattlepi.com/…/puget-sound-partnership-ruckelshaus-passes-the-tor…‎
Jul 30, 2010 – William Ruckelshaus is stepping down as chairman of the PUGET SOUND PARTNERSHIP leadership council.

WHO IS Bill Ruckelshaus?
The Puget Sound Partnership was created by the Legislature in 2007: It has turned into a major cooperative effort involving federal, state, tribal and local governments, PLUS A MULTITUDE OF NON-PROFITS.

WHO IS Bill Ruckelshaus?
In 1983, with the EPA in crisis due to mass resignations over the mishandling of the Superfund project,[2] President Ronald Reagan appointed Ruckelshaus to serve as EPA Administrator again.

WHO IS Bill Ruckelshaus?
On November 28, 1984, Ruckelshaus announced that he would be retiring as EPA head, effective January 5, 1985, around the start of President Reagan’s second term. In actuality he stayed on until February 7, 1985.

UNITED NATIONS
In 1985, Ruckelshaus joined Perkins Coie, a Seattle-based law firm. From 1983-86, he served on the World Commission on Environment and Development set up by the United Nations

BANNED DDT
Ruckelshaus (who had not attended the hearings himself) overruled Sweeney’s decision and issued the ban nevertheless, claiming that DDT was a “potential human carcinogen” [1]
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PUGET SOUND PARTNERSHIP In August 2007,
David Dicks got the job, which required him to develop a plan for coordinating state and federal efforts to clean up THE NATIONS SECOND LARGEST ESTUARY, PUGET SOUND.
which is only overshadowed by the Chesapeake Bay.
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REP. NORM DICKS DAVID DICKS AND WILLIAM RUCKELSHAUS
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Posted Feb. 9, 2012
Earmark investigation: Rep. Norm Dicks and Puget Sound
The Washington Post
by Kimberly Kind

with comments from Randy Dutton Citizen Review Online

Posted Feb. 9, 2012

Olympia, Wash. — In January 2007, Rep. Norm Dicks (D-Wash.) became chairman of a congressional subcommittee that gave him the power to secure millions in federal funds to environmental projects in his district.

Six months later, the congressman requested millions of dollars to clean up Puget Sound — a vital but polluted system of waterways in his home state of Washington, according to White House records.

His interests on behalf of the sound aligned with those of his son, David Dicks, who at the time was interviewing to be executive director for a newly created state agency,

”THE PUGET SOUND PARTNERSHIP”
(REP. NORM DICKS DAVID DICKS AND WILLIAM RUCKELSHAUS)

In August 2007, he got the job, which required him to develop a plan for coordinating state and federal efforts to clean up the nation’s second-largest estuary,
which is only overshadowed by the Chesapeake Bay.

Over the next four years, father and son worked in tandem to restore Puget Sound, with the congressman directing millions more to the work, including a $1.82 million earmark and more than $14 million in grants and other funds that went to his son’s agency. There were no competitors for the funds.

The earmark and grants are unreported elements in the story of the father and son and Puget Sound, which has long been controversial in the Pacific Northwest, spawning charges of nepotism, waste and no-bid contracts, according to state audits and political opponents.

Norm Dicks lost his chairmanship in the Republican takeover of the House in 2010, and his son stepped down from his $129,000-a-year job around the same time.

The case illustrates the complications that can arise when a lawmaker’s congressional actions benefit not only his district but also a family member. Both father and son insist they were only trying to save the environment and serve the people of Washington.

“This is a very important issue for the people in my state. This isn’t about me or my son,” the 71-year-old congressman said during an interview in his Capitol office. “David got the job through a competitive process . . . he had the passion for the job.”

David Dicks, 40, said the group’s success in pursuing federal funds was because his father had become chairman of the House appropriations subcommittee on the interior, environment and related agencies.

“He didn’t have the power to do this before,” David Dicks said. “He didn’t do it for me; he did it because he cares about Puget Sound and he finally had the ability to do something about it.”

But their critics say good intentions were undercut by favoritism.

PUGET SOUND PARTNERSHIP
(REP. NORM DICKS DAVID DICKS AND WILLIAM RUCKELSHAUS)

“Everyone was scratching everyone’s back with this ”PUGET SOUND PARTNERSHIP” said Republican state Sen. Mark Schoesler, who has been a vocal critic of the partnership. “They were banking on daddy Dicks to bring money home, and then his son squandered it.”

Beginning in 2006, Congressman Dicks and David Dicks were both active in efforts to create a state agency to clean up the sound. The congressman served on the governor’s blue ribbon panel that recommended forming the ”PUGET SOUND PARTNERSHIP, which would serve as coordinator for local, state and federal efforts. David Dicks, an environmental lawyer, wrote passages in the panel’s final report on funding and political strategies for such a partnership.

“Your kids are going to do things that you have been involved with,” Norm Dicks said. “I don’t think there was a conflict. We are all trying our best to restore Puget Sound.”

DAVID DICKS was appointed by Washington Gov. Chris Gregoire. The governor’s spokesman said Dicks’s environmental credentials “made him highly competitive.”

As executive director of the new agency, David Dicks’s job included raising funds for and coordinating with local, state and federal agencies that would be the “boots on the ground.” In public hearings, he spoke of his ability to secure federal funds and was repeatedly praised for doing so.

“When we started this, we were getting $1 million for the sound program through EPA,” David Dicks said during a Nov. 6, 2010, hearing in Olympia. “We were then able to leverage that up to $20 million for two years and then up to $50 million. That obviously is a big, serious increase in the federal support.”

In addition to the earmark and grants, federal records show Congressman Dicks was able to raise the annual budget for all Puget Sound-related work during his tenure as chairman, reaching a height of $50 million in 2010. During the hearing, David Dicks said all the money went to support

the partnership’s cleanup and restoration agenda.

With his House subcommittee chairmanship, Dicks was considered an appropriations “cardinal,” holding the purse strings of the federal budget. As such, the congressman said he knew that both he and his son would be criticized if he delivered money

directly to the Puget Sound Partnership.

On June 26, 2007, Congressman Dicks introduced his first appropriations bill with money for Puget Sound. He later asked that the funds he secured be sent directly to the Environmental Protection Agency.

“We knew there would be sensitivity,” the congressman said. “We sent it to the regional EPA office, not to the partnership, and had them create a competitive process.”

The funds had to be used on an “action agenda,” Norm Dicks said — work that the partnership was charged to perform.

EPA officials said in phone calls and e-mails that recipients of the funds had to go through a “competitive” process.

However, EPA records show that $6.1 million of the funds were given in 2008 and 2009 through a noncompetitive agreement, largely to fund the action agenda.

Confronted with the records, and after several weeks of exchanges with The Post, the EPA backed away from characterizing the process for the funds as competitive.

“While responding to The Washington Post’s detailed requests for information related to EPA’s work with the Puget Sound Partnership, we found that two pieces of information we provided were incorrect,” said Tom Eaton, Washington state operations office director for the EPA. “In both cases, as soon as we realized our error, we provided the correct information.”

An additional $5.99 million was given in 2010 for the action agenda through a grant process for which there was only one applicant — the ”PUGET SOUND PARTNERSHIP The agency was also the only applicant in 2009 for a $2 million grant for community outreach and education for Puget Sound restoration efforts.

The congressman’s spokesman, George Behan, said that Norm Dicks believed that none of the funds can be considered earmarks because the money went through a national program at the EPA, not directly to the ”PUGET SOUND PARTNERSHIP

“You can call it whatever you want, but at the end of the day, it’s an earmark,” said Steve Ellis, vice president for Taxpayers for Common Sense. “There was a lot of verbiage and hyperbole about how it was going to be competitively bid, but the facts clearly show that this is a case of a lawmaker directing funds to a specific entity that also happened to employ his son.”

In early 2009, the Washington State Auditor’s Office started looking at state funds given to the partnership, a state agency that has 40 employees and receives $3 million in state funds and $7.57 million in federal funds for its annual budget.

In May 2010, auditors found the partnership “circumvented state contracting laws, exceeded its purchasing authority and made unallowable purchases with public funds,” incurring “costs without clear public benefit.”

Auditors pointed out that the Seattle office of the K&L Gates law firm had been given a no-bid contract, receiving up to $478 an hour and a total of $51,498. The firm has been a campaign donor to the congressman.

“Under state contracting laws, you have to go out to bid on anything that is $20,000 or more. This contract was originally $19,999. Now come on — that shows intent,” State Auditor Brian Sonntag said in an interview in his Olympia office. “That tells me they were looking for a way to direct that contract without opening it to competition.”

“I think of all the things that happened, the way we executed that contract was the weakest thing we did,” David Dicks said. “We shouldn’t have done it that way.”

The state’s Joint Legislative Audit and Review Committee issued its own audit in December, finding that the action agenda failed to include “required benchmarks” to determine if “progress is being made.”

The audit triggered a review by the EPA, which called on the partnership to return more than $120,000 in funds after finding several contracts and agreements that lacked certifications to show the agency received the goods and services it had paid for.

A week after Republicans took control of the House in November 2010, David Dicks resigned from the Puget Sound Partnership.

“It was a difficult time,” he said. “I left a lucrative law practice to help save Puget Sound. No one was expecting the response that me and my father got.”

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Comments from Randy Dutton:

K&L Gates was Dicks’ 4th largest political contributor.

  • K&L Gates had a position on the Board of Directors that hired David Dicks.
  • David Dicks then, according to the audit report, issued a contract that falsified the urgency, thus trying to avoid having the work done by the AG’s office as required; skirted the dollar threshold then immediately increased it after the contract award (violation of federal law subject to incarceration). This appears to be payback. (Audit Report)
  • David Dicks sent $10,000 to the Cascade Conservancy where his brother Ryan was working, which the Audit Report said provided no value to the taxpayers. (Audit Report)
  • David fired a whistleblower then secretly used public money to pay her off. (KOUW report)
  • David misused government property (his car).
  • David failed to report lobbying effort as required by the state. (EFF report)
  • $3 Million of ‘Green Jobs’ funding went to Pierce County, whereupon Ryan Dicks (2nd son of Norm) was hired at about $87,000/year for 2 years to spend it to: insulate some homes, install some heat pumps, replace a scoreboard, change some lights. More payback? (Tribune)

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COMPLETE TEXT August 22, 2013 THE BAD NEWS ON DEREK KILMER

U.S. Reps Kilmer and Heck promise to continue drive to clean up Puget Sound
Published: August 22, 2013

U.S. Reps Kilmer and Heck promise to continue the work of Norm Dicks on behalf of wetlands, shorelines
By ROB CARSON — Staff writer

Freshmen U.S. Reps. Derek Kilmer and Denny Heck promised Tuesday that they’ll do their best to sustain former Congressman Norm Dicks’ drive to clean up Puget Sound.

“Together our feet aren’t big enough to fill the shoes of Norm Dicks and what he has done to improve the health of Puget Sound,” said Heck, D-Olympia, “but we’re here to see how we can advance our movements forward.”

At a field hearing held at Tacoma’s Center for Urban Waters, Kilmer, D-Gig Harbor, called the restoration of Puget Sound “both a moral and an economic necessity.” Kilmer replaced Dicks, who retired in 2012 after representing the 6th Congressional District for nearly four decades.

In 2009, when Dicks was chairman of the House appropriations subcommittee on the interior, environment and related agencies, he raised the budget for Puget Sound-related work to a high of $50 million — 100 times what it had been the previous decade.

During more than two hours of testimony Tuesday, the heads of federal and state environmental agencies and Indian tribes summarized achievements, which they said included the restoration of miles of wetlands and other shoreline habitat; improvements in the handling of stormwater runoff; and the removal of invasive species, creosoted docks and pilings, and derelict vessels.
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A NECESSARY COMMENT

But they told the congressmen that continued vigilance, and a continued flow of federal money, is critical for success.

“It’s not like putting out a fire,” said Bill Ruckelshaus, former administrator of the EPA and former chair of the Puget Sound Partnership’s Leadership Council. “We’ve got to stay everlastingly at it.”

Several who testified said more money needs to be allocated for scientific monitoring. Getting money for restoration projects has been relatively easy lately, they said, but finding money for monitoring results has been nearly impossible.
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INDEED, EASY AS THE MANDATED UNFUNDED EPA $14.8 BILLION DOLLAR RAIN TAX IN MARYLAND TO CLEAN-UP CHESAPEAKE BAY

————————————————————–

Another consistent problem with the restoration effort, several who testified said, is that a sizeable portion of the public is still either unaware or unconvinced that a problem exists.

At the Center for Urban Waters, which overlooks the Thea Foss Waterway, a parade of pleasure boats headed back and forth from Commencement Bay.

“How can you say, looking out here, that everything is not hunky-dory?” said Randy Kinley, representing Lummi Nation. “The problem is below the sunny surface.”

Heck said he believes that is indeed a central issue.

“You have to convince the people,” Heck said, “and what you need to convince the people is a convincing message. Distilling the message is something we can make a lot of progress on.”

Rob Carson: 253-597-8693 rob.carson@ thenewstribune.com

Read more here: http://www.theolympian.com/2013/08/22/2683877/lawmakers-back-cleaner-sound.html#storylink=cpy

This entry was posted in EPA Clean Water ActMedia CoveragePolitically MotivatedPublic Servants,Rubber StampedShoreline Management PlanWetlands.

 

Behind My Back | Comments-Objections to PSNERP

www.behindmyback.org/2015/01/09/comments-objections-to-psnerp/

Jan 9, 2015 – Comments-Objections to (PSNERP) I strongly oppose the Puget Sound … www.behindmyback.org/2014/06/09/the-restoration–shell–game/.

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2015 – 073 Spot the Vested Interest: The $1.5 Trillion …

www.theeuroprobe.org/2015-073-spot-the-vested-interest-the-1-5-trillio

Jul 31, 2015 – Spot the Vested Interest: The $1.5 Trillion Climate Change Industry « JoNova … means four billion dollars a day is spent on our quest to change the climate. … The special thing about this industry is that it wouldn’t exist if it weren’t … about the vested-monster-in-the-kitchen, the 1.5 Trillion Climate Industry.

 

 

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Sutherland and Burgman point out that highly regarded experts are routinely shown to be no better than novices at making judgments.

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Homeland Security Wire News – Published 16 October 2015

Top of Form

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Risk analysis

Experts are often fallible, so expert advice should be examined carefully

Published 16 October 2015

Evidence shows that experts are frequently fallible, say leading risk researchers, and policy makers should not act on expert advice without using rigorous methods that balance subjective distortions inherent in expert estimates. Many governments aspire to evidence-based policy, but the researchers say the evidence on experts themselves actually shows that they are highly susceptible to “subjective influences” — from individual values and mood, to whether they stand to gain or lose from a decision — and, while highly credible, experts often vastly overestimate their objectivity and the reliability of peers.

Evidence shows that experts are frequently fallible, say leading risk researchers, and policy makers should not act on expert advice without using rigorous methods that balance subjective distortions inherent in expert estimates.

The accuracy and reliability of expert advice is often compromised by “cognitive frailties,” and needs to be interrogated with the same tenacity as research data to avoid weak and ill-informed policy, warn two leading risk analysis and conservation researchers in the journal Nature.

While many governments aspire to evidence-based policy, the researchers say the evidence on experts themselves actually shows that they are highly susceptible to “subjective influences” — from individual values and mood, to whether they stand to gain or lose from a decision — and, while highly credible, experts often vastly overestimate their objectivity and the reliability of peers.

U Cambridge reports that the researchers caution that conventional approaches of informing policy by seeking advice from either well-regarded individuals or assembling expert panels needs to be balanced with methods that alleviate the effects of psychological and motivational bias.

They offer a straightforward framework for improving expert advice, and say that experts should provide and assess evidence on which decisions are made — but not advise decision makers directly, which can skew impartiality.

“We are not advocating replacing evidence with expert judgements, rather we suggest integrating and improving them,” write professors William Sutherland and Mark Burgman from the universities of Cambridge and Melbourne respectively.

“Policy makers use expert evidence as though it were data. So they should treat expert estimates with the same critical rigor that must be applied to data,” they write.

“Experts must be tested, their biases minimized, their accuracy improved, and their estimates validated with independent evidence. Put simply, experts should be held accountable for their opinions.”

Sutherland and Burgman point out that highly regarded experts are routinely shown to be no better than novices at making judgements.

However, several processes have been shown to improve performances across the spectrum, they say, such as “horizon scanning” — identifying all possible changes and threats — and “solution scanning” — listing all possible options, using both experts and evidence, to reduce the risk of overlooking valuable alternatives.

To get better answers from experts, they need better, more structured questions, say the authors.

“A seemingly straightforward question, ‘How many diseased animals are there in the area?’ for example, could be interpreted very differently by different people. Does it include those that are infectious and those that have recovered? What about those yet to be identified?” said Sutherland, from Cambridge’s Department of Zoology.

“Structured question formats that extract upper and lower boundaries, degrees of confidence and force consideration of alternative theories are important for shoring against slides into group-think, or individuals getting ascribed greater credibility based on appearance or background,” he said.

When seeking expert advice, all parties must be clear about what they expect of each other, says Burgman, director of the Center of Excellence for Biosecurity Risk Analysis. “Are policy makers expecting estimates of facts, predictions of the outcome of events, or advice on the best course of action?”

“Properly managed, experts can help with estimates and predictions, but providing advice assumes the expert shares the same values and objectives as the decision makers. Experts need to stick to helping provide and assess evidence on which such decisions are made,” he said.

U Cambridge notes that Sutherland and Burgman have created a framework of eight key ways to improve the advice of experts. These include using groups — not individuals — with diverse, carefully selected members well within their expertise areas.

They also caution against being bullied or “starstruck” by the over-assertive or heavyweight.

“People who are less self-assured will seek information from a more diverse range of sources, and age, number of qualifications and years of experience do not explain an expert’s ability to predict future events — a finding that applies in studies from geopolitics to ecology,” said Sutherland.

Added Burgman: “Some experts are much better than others at estimation and prediction. However, the only way to tell a good expert from a poor one is to test them. Qualifications and experience don’t help to tell them apart.”

“The cost of ignoring these techniques — of using experts inexpertly — is less accurate information and so more frequent, and more serious, policy failures,” write the researchers.

— Redmore in William J. Sutherland and Mark Burgman, “Policy advice: Use experts wisely,” Nature (14 October 2015)

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