Editorial: Politics giveth and taketh away

It would be a bit ironic if Lake Tahoe's promised $300 million got sidetracked by partisan politics.

For residents of Northern Nevada and California, the beauty of Lake Tahoe is priceless. Far be it from us to argue otherwise.

The $300 million would be earmarked over 10 years to greatly assist the ongoing effort to restore Lake Tahoe's water quality and bring back the health of its magnificent forests.

The Keep Tahoe Blue campaign is much more than an environmental movement. The region's tourism economy depends significantly on the image of the lake as one of the jewel's of nature's beauty.

However, lest anyone's memory be so short, we must remind residents that the promise of $300 million for Lake Tahoe was itself highly political.

President Clinton's visit here in the summer of 1997, when the federal largess was promised, was no coincidence.

It was orchestrated by U.S. Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., as a summit meeting for the lake's environment, and it drew much attention to the problems there. It also drew quite a bit of attention to Reid, who was soon to be embroiled in a hotly contested race to retain his Senate seat.

No matter how many times John Ensign talked about his fond memories of Lake Tahoe, it was Reid who could say he was bringing home the dough. And it is pork-barrel dough - vitally important to us, but no more important on a national scale than the military bases, harbors and national-defense factories are to the constituents in other parts of the country.

So when Democrats worry that Republicans might sabotage the Lake Tahoe funds in order to defeat Sen. Dianne Feinstein's bid for re-election in California, recognize those concerns for what they are.

Politics giveth, politics taketh away.


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