Monday, February 06, 2006

Over the Weekend: Money for Wrestling but Not for the Cleanup of the Sound? Also, John Behler, 1943-2006

Amann's screwy priority ... When cutbacks in Connecticut’s portion of the Long Island Sound cleanup became news late last year, House Speaker James Amann essentially threw up his hands and said he couldn’t do much about it because funding sewage treatment plant improvements wasn’t a sexy issue.

So what is a sexy issue for Amann, a Democrat from Milford?

Professional wrestling, apparently. At a time when water quality in Long Island Sound has declined to the point where it’s as bad as it was 15 years ago, Amann’s priority in the 2006 Connecticut budget is tax incentives to help World Wrestling Entertainment.

I realize it sounds like I’m making this up, but I’m not. Click here for the details.

Amann will be among the Connecticut state legislators heading back to Hartford for what promises to be a session dominated by the primary need of all state legislators everywhere – the need to be re-elected.

It is these Connecticut legislators, you’ll remember, who voted to cut back on the Sound cleanup. Those cutbacks, according to Connecticut Fund of the Environment, will delay the cleanup for almost 25 years beyond the original 2014 deadline.

Other interest groups are no doubt preparing to lobby for money for their causes. Nothing is truer than that elected officials respond to noise and pressure. Putting money back in the Clean Water Fund for the cleanup of Long Island Sound should be the top priority for Connecticut environmentalists.

Death of a Naturalist ... If you’ve ever used The Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Reptiles & Amphibians to look up the identity of a turtle or a snake, you’re familiar with John Behler’s work. He was its co-author, and was also the curator of herpetology at the Wildlife Conservation Society/Bronx Zoo. I first met Behler back in 1983, when I interviewed him for a newspaper story, and I worked with a couple of years ago on a land preservation project. He has a good scientist and a good guy. He died last week, of congestive heart failure, at age 62. His work as a conservation biologist earned him an international reputation, but I was lucky enough to have been in the field with him once in northern Westchester, when he came upon a concentration of reptiles that amazed him. I wrote about it today on Gristmill. Click here to read it.


Blogger Hungry Hyaena said...

Great obit/memoriam at Grist, Tom. The enthusiasm shared by the best wildlife biologists is contagious, as is their care and admiration for other species. If only there were many, many more like John Behler.

12:27 PM  

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