Feb 012016
 

Last Tuesday morning, I was visited by Dr. Singe Saleté, Federal Policy Consultant to the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality. “I’ve been waiting nearly a week for an opening in your schedule,” she complained as she seated herself in the chair immediately in front of my desk. “It appears you are a very difficult person reach. Is it always this hard to see you?” “The last ten days have been especially tough,” I explained. “Because of the snow storm, everyone with an appointment on Friday the twenty-second wanted to move it to one of the days earlier in the week, and everyone with a Monday appointment this week wanted to move it to today or tomorrow. The inherent chaos created […]

Nov 192015
 

This morning, my ten-thirty AM consultation was with an economist from the USDA. We spent about an hour and ten minutes discussing the ramifications of the Renewable Fuel Standard and its impacts on the corn market. Manufacturing fuel ethanol from corn was a stupid idea when it got started during the Carter administration, of course, and it’s a still a stupid idea today, but stupidity never kept the US government from doing anything the farm lobby and agribusiness happen to want. There was still plenty of analysis remaining, but my guest cut things off twenty minutes early. “Thanks, Tom,” she said with a smile as a gentleman whom I had never met opened the door to the reception area and […]

Nov 092015
 

At the request of my dear sister Rose’s parish priest, I accepted a telephone consultation appointment with Sister Moecha Meretrix, the principal of the Catholic school to whom Rose sends her vast brood of Catholic children, Mother Superior of a local Dominican convent, and, as it happens, a member of the Ecumenical Congress of the United States of America Board of Directors. I was very busy during the week, so I arranged for her to call me at my home in Great Falls, Virginia on Saturday afternoon. Tom: Hello, Mother Superior Meretrix. MS: Uh… hello, is this Tom Collins? Tom: It is indeed, Mother Superior. MS: Um… how did you… Tom: I have Caller ID, Mother Superior. MS: Oh. I […]

Nov 012015
 

“Ahmed” has been annoying Gretchen with requests for an appointment since Monday, but she’s been putting him off, of course. “There’s no way,” she emphatically told me, “that running the air purification system overnight will get rid of the stench. He’s got to be the last consultation on a Friday or working Saturday, as usual, or find yourself somebody else to come in and take care of receptions the next morning. You remember what happened the last time we let him come in on a weekday that wasn’t followed by a long holiday weekend or at least a Sunday, don’t you?” Indeed I do. A typical American would think a ripe durian fruit smells like, well, the most charitable description […]

Aug 162015
 

Friday morning at nine, I was visited by Dr. Lura Tradkrammer, Division Director, Office of Water, US Environmental Protection Agency. My clients don’t come more agitated and anxious than she was. I could feel the tension and apprehension exuding from her as she forthrightly positioned herself in the chair directly in front of my desk. “Mr. Collins,” she timorously declared, “I’ve heard a lot about you, and frankly I was – and remain – highly skeptical of your alleged talents.” “So why are you here?” I asked. “Because the Administrator ordered that the Deputy Administrator recommend that the Assistant Administrator for Water Quality instruct the Deputy Assistant Administrator of my Division to require that I see you.” “Okay,” I observed, […]