Monday, April 28, 2003

A few months ago, I was wondering why Dubya's EPA secretary, Christie Whitman, bothered to stay in office, despite her independant wealth, and snubs and humliations from Dubya's inner circle. The benefits are becoming more apparent:

Environmental Protection Agency criminal agents are being diverted from their normal investigative work to provide security and drivers for agency chief Christie Whitman -- and getting long lists of do's and don'ts to keep her happy.

EPA AGENTS assigned to investigate environmental crimes have at times been ordered to perform more personal tasks, such as returning a rental car for Whitman's husband after a trip or sitting at a table until the administrator arrived for a restaurant reservation, according to interviews with several EPA senior managers.

The lists of do's and don'ts instruct agents who chauffeur the EPA administrator to ensure they rent only a Lincoln Town Car, tune the radio to smooth jazz or classical music and set the volume low, and keep an eye out for a Starbucks coffee shop or Barnes & Noble book store.

One guy detailed to hold a restaurant table was an agent whose ordinary job involves investigating environmental crimes, at $100,000 a year.

Of course, having personnel do little favors like this for Whitman allows her to get to know them, which can be a good thing. But evidently, within limits:

[A memo] told agents to limit their chitchat. "Expect Governor Whitman to ask you how you are doing. This is not an opening to tell Governor Whitman your life story, your hobbies, your most interesting cases ... or what is wrong with the Bush administration."


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